Campaigners fear it will take “a fatality” to convince the council to improve safety on a “really dangerous” north-east road.
Keithhall residents submitted a petition earlier this year to raise their concerns about the “neglected” state of the B993 between Inverurie and the hamlet.
A full report, which was prepared in response to the 10 issues laid out in the document, was presented to members of the Garioch Area Committee recently – where their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Several safety measures and adjustments to the signage in and around Keithhall were proposed by concerned locals to stop drivers from speeding and prevent accidents.
Some of the suggestions included extending the 40mph speed limit zone currently in place along a stretch of the route.
The petition also outlined a number of “very important” improvements – including better maintenance of the overgrown vegetation along the road, repainting several worn-off white lines and providing a footpath for pedestrians on Urie Bridge.
Another issue raised in the document put particular focus on the road conditions at the railway bridge, which is regularly flooded due to poor drainage.
However, despite residents’ efforts, the majority of the issues have been dismissed in the council report either as irrelevant with no need for further action or as too expensive to fix.
Although a few of the suggestions have been taken forward for consideration, road officers have given no clear confirmation if and when such repairs could take place.
Local residents appalled by road officers’ report
The decision was regarded as “appalling” by local residents, who said that all of the problems have been ongoing for years.
Denys Wheatley compiled all the suggestions for the petition in February in effort to change the situation, having witnessed a number of accidents in the last 16 years he’s lived in Keithhall.
The 81-year-old was taken aback by the council’s response, saying most of the matters can be “easily sorted”.
Mr Wheatley said: “I think this is a poor report and what we actually need to do is go over these matters together, so they could see the problems with their own eyes.
“The main issue is that the B993 has become a very busy road with speeding cars, horse containers, grain lorries and tractors going up and down here all the time.
“It’s a really dangerous section and the council should realise that.
For a small amount of effort and cost, they can make a lot of difference here – why don’t they?”
– Denys Wheatley
“I had recorded six car accidents down the road around the S-bend, where a car had gone off the road or had turned on its side, before they finally decided to take some action a few years ago.
“There are so many small, simple maintenance things that they could just get on with – even if it’s just putting down cables to actually monitor how many people go above the speed limit on this road.”
He added: “The way things get done seriously is when we have a fatality.
“And we can either wait for the fatality and then take action to fix the issues that have arisen or we can do something about the problems now and avoid a fatality.
“For a small amount of effort and cost, they can make a lot of difference here – why don’t they?”
David Innes, who has also lived in Keithhall for nearly two decades, raised the same concerns.
Backing the petition, the 66-year-old said: “They are all outstanding matters and I know that there are budgetary constraints, but a lot of them have been ongoing problems.
“The prime things are the speed limit through the village and drainage at the railway bridge.
“The bridge is a low point and it often floods – at least once a year – and they never managed to ensure that all the water drains away.
“If someone is having a medical emergency, you’d need a helicopter to get them extracted quickly and fixing the drainage is not difficult to do – but it does require effort and imagination.”
Mr Innes added that most people in Keithhall are scared for their safety when getting on the road as drivers constantly disobey the speed limit.
He said: “My daughter used to ride horses and every time I had to escort her I would be aggressively standing on the road with an obstacle in my hand to force them to stop, so she could go to the estate.
“It wouldn’t cost much to just move the speed limit sign, so drivers can slow down before they get to our houses.
“The visibility from our junction is also particularly bad and you can’t imagine the number of times you hear the breaks squealing on the road, when somebody is trying to get the car out of their house.”
Councillors’ vote: “No reason to take any further action “
The report on the Keithhall petition was presented at the latest Garioch Area Committee meeting, where councillors were asked to review the proposed improvements and repairs.
Regarding the flooding at the railway bridge, the officers wrote: “This is a historical issue. The location is the lowest point and water does gather here in times of excessive rainfall.
“This does result in the road having to be temporarily closed for short periods. The
water does disperse, but due to the river being at a high level this does not
happen immediately and takes a period of time.
“There is no obvious low costs solution to this longstanding issue. As the matter is relatively infrequent and managed safely through temporary closure there are currently there are no plans to carry out additional works.”
The officers said there was “no justification” for extending the 40mph speed limit as the signs are no properties to the west of the hamlet and the restriction covers sufficient grounds.
Regarding the community’s claims that the area has been “generally neglected” transport chiefs argued that it received fair treatment and was subject to monthly checks.
They added: “The area and/or road section receives attention as appropriate to the road category and thereby any defects are reported and put forward for repair through our priority-based risk matrix.
“The road section is inspected on a monthly basis and any identified issues will be raised through the inspection process.”
Despite a difference of opinion on the approach, members agreed for no further action to be taken on any of the suggestions.
Inverurie councillor Lesley Berry expressed her support to Keithhall residents, saying they deserve more clarity and reassurance.
Ms Berry said: “When you read this back, it seems terse for want of a better word.
“Everything reported goes onto a priority list, but we are not giving people any real answers or hope that they are being listened to.
“We could be kinder and more realistic, rather than fobbing them off without answers.”
However, fellow Inverurie councillor Marion Ewanson disagreed.
She said: “I thought this was a reasonable response.
“There is a backlog and we have to explain that we are behind this year and they will start to see progress.
“We are getting there but it is going to take time and officers have gone through every issue presented and given an answer to the petitioners.”
Committee chairman Dominic Lonchay sided with this opinion.
He said: “There is no reason to take any further action as a satisfactory response has been made by the service.”