A local school bus operator, who has expressed the view that the safety of children is his paramount concern, has given his reaction to the news that the notorious Mill of Dun bends are to be re-aligned.
The Review exclusively revealed on October 2 that the Z-bend is going to be straightened out.
James Kennedy-Pratt, who runs Jamies Transport Services in Broomfield Industrial Estate in Montrose, had his contract terminated by Angus Council when he told them he was not prepared to stop for an additional pupil at the Z-bend, believing it to be too risky to both his passengers and other road-users.
He said he has been sceptical of the level of risk assessment carried out by the council and insists that his own independent assessment, carried out by a retired traffic police officer, followed the guidelines laid down by the Scottish Government.
Mr Kennedy-Pratt, who reckons his principled stance has cost him around £37,000 in lost revenue, told us: “I’m not willing to work for a council with such low regard for child safety.”
While broadly welcoming the news of the improvements and believing it is a good idea to straighten the bends at the accident blackspot, Mr Kennedy-Pratt felt it was unfortunate that the Mill of Dun bend had not been done first, before the other two, as the improved A935 had speeded up traffic heading into that bend, one which catches so many unawares.
He also pondered the spending of “so much public money” on the compulsory purchase and removal of a cottage and yet leave a stand of leylandii which he says add to the restricted visibility on the road.
We spoke to Montrose Councillor Bill Duff who told us that the cottage on the corner had been demolished around two years ago and the order of procedure in re-aligning the bends was forced upon the council due to the protracted negotiations with the National Trust for Scotland.
He added that the delay in signing the land over to Angus Council was because the land was inalienable, meaning ownership was not transferable to others. This issue has now been resolved and work is due to start on October 14 and will finish by the end of the financial year.
Mr Duff said: “It’s good that the work is finally starting as it’s a bad bend.”
In response to Mr Kennedy-Pratt’s mention of speeding, Mr Duff said: “There is a 60 mph limit on that road. You have to think of the economic effects as there is a lot of commercial traffic using that road and we want people to invest in Montrose, Brechin and the surrounding area.
“If there are lousy roads they may not want to base themselves in the area. Making the road easier for lorries to access will make the area more commercially viable.”
Mr Duff added that the expected cost of the work on the Mill of Dun bend would be £493,000. This represents a prospective saving of a quarter of a million pounds on the council’s 2011 prediction.