Sunday, July 10, 2011

New sign at Foynesfield crossroads

Helen, one of our regular readers was a bit perplexed by this sign, wondering why tourists might want to go to Grantown to get to Aberdeen. Seems like a new concept to this observer too, maybe to Aberdeen via the 'Grampian Highlands'? A quick google reveals more however, this is one of 12 national tourist routes. There is also more information here and on this Transport Scotland web page.


Anonymous said...

This opens up the very strange debate on where are the Highlands? Geographically, culturally and administratively different boundary’s are considered. If you look at the tourist website Moray is well and truly encompassed as a Highland region. Aberdeenshire may push it a bit - but then Perth markets its self as "Gateway to the Highlands" which I would suggest is a little disingenuous.

nairnbairn said...

A bypass by the back door?

Hasn't anyone noticed that this route and the new signs effectively direct tourists away from Nairn?

You might think that VisitScotland and Highland Council (who were responsible for this initiative) might in their infinite wisdom have thought to encourage visiting tourists to come to Nairn - that town of beaches, B&Bs, golf courses, and other delights.

But no.... the visitor travelling between Aberdeen, Grantown and Inverness is directed to take the back road (the B9090) via Geddes and Cawdor, and so is steered away from Nairn. Great for those that want to visit the castle, and Culloden. But not so great for those in Nairn who are seeking to attract visitors, customers and guests.

Ah well, at least the visiting tourists will be spared the tedium of queuing through the town's multiple traffic lights. Instead, they will just run the risk of 60mph encounters with timber-lorries and white vans on the Geddes-Cawdor-Croy back-road ratrun, um, bypass, er, "tourist route".

Nairn residents and businesses might be forgiven for thinking that this is yet another example of VisitScotland and the Highland Council being guilty of either conspiracy, or cock-up, or both.

Graisg said...

Hi Nairnbairn, the Transport Scotland web page states:
"There are currently 12 NTRs (see Figure 12.1) and the creation of further NTRs and tourist trails is a matter for VisitScotland who will liaise with the trunk road authority with regard to signing on trunk roads."
No mention of local authorities there but one would imagine some Highland Council input.
Do you have a URL trail leading back to them? HC get the blame for a lot of things but maybe this is very little to do with them?

nairnbairn said...

Graisg... The first thing to say is that of course Highland Council makes a grant of about £half a million per year to Visit Scotland to deliver assorted tourism-related services. Pinning down the HC role in this specific project needs a bit of delving around various websites, but since you asked, here goes:

1) Policy responsibility. The Highland Council is responsible for "the strategic and operational management of the local road network" (ie the non-trunk roads) - see This means they produce a Local Transport Strategy (follow the link). Appendix D1 of that strategy confirms that Highland Council is responsible for, among other things, "coordinated travel guides, traffic management, and traffic signing" - see So the Highland Council's policy responsibility is clear.

2) Collateral evidence. The signposting of the Highland Tourist Route was proposed in 2007 by a consultant, Elma Macmenemy (Google to see her presentation) to Aberdeen City Council and - presumably, Grampian and Highland Councils. The report to the Aberdeen CC meeting, at , reveals that the total cost was £150,000, and the recommendation was for Aberdeen CC to provide £20k "conditional on similar contributions being made by public and private sector partners in each of the affected local authority areas". The fact that the route has now been set up suggests that those other contributions were in fact made; the other authorities include course Grampian, Moray, Highland and perhaps bodies like the Cairngorms National Park.

3) Funding and audit trail. It is extraordinarily difficult to identify how, from which budget, and how much, the Highland Council has contributed to this project. One clue is in para 7.6.1 of the Highland Council's Review of Tourism Spend for 2008-09 - another consultants' report, which reveals that in that year HC spent £2k on various tourist projects including "....Visit Scotland's promotion of...three national tourist trails in the Highlands". This however cannot be the whole story. It seems very likely that the more substantial HC contribution to this tourist-route-signposting project will have been in 2009-10 and/or 2010-11, and that it will have come from the TEC services 'roads' budget, details of which have, so far, been untraceable online. But both the principle and the legal basis for HC to be a source of funding, as well as the circumstantial evidence, seem pretty conclusive.

It is of course an open question as to whether the Council, and our elected representatives, were ever given the opportunity to consider or discuss this project, or whether it was just dealt with by officials. To get the details of any discussion/consultation, and the exact figures, one can always resort to an FOI request since the Highland Council's published online information is - as usual - rather opaque.

Hope this clarifies the basis for my earlier assertion!

Graisg said...

Thanks Nairnbairn that is excellent. You are probably better informed on this than our Highland Councillors, whose role seems to be reduced to telling our Community Councils that they agree with what they say and will go away to do something about it. Of course the CCs know what is wrong but have no power to fix it, I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that our Highland Councillors have little or no power to fix anything or prevent anything too. What I'm getting at here is that I beleive there is no way any of our Community Councils would have consented to this sign, taking tourists away from Nairn, being sited anywhere in Nairnshire. It just shows how much the community is excluded from the process.
What is needed is a corresponding brown sign pointing down the brae extolling the virtues of Nairn.

Anonymous said...

You can reach Royal Deeside and Barmoral in an hour and a half going that way and over the Lecth, come through Nairn on an ordinary traffic day, it takes two and a half hours, with the new lights probably three hours.If you don't intend to stop why would you divert to Nairn.