"I attach a letter recently received from the senior official in the Scottish Government Transport Trunk Roads division which confirms that there will now be a fresh consultation with local people on the thorny Nairn traffic lights issue - and the traffic problems. I am well aware that these, and unannounced utility works over the summer, have created much irritation and inconvenience over a period of years. This issue has been pursued by me over this period with the Transport officials, and I am very pleased that they have now recognised that change must be seriously considered. The letter confirms that the transport officials will at long last consider alternative options - such as fewer lights, and different locations - and modelling will be undertaken of those options, and the results of that modelling shared, before putting conclusions to my colleague and friend Derek MacKay the Transport Minister. Many different opinions have been expressed to me about the lights. Some say there are just too many. Others argue that they are wrongly situated. The Mobility access panel have pointed out failures to take account of needs of persons with particular needs. And some people have argued all these points!
Whilst I am concerned that it has taken too long to secure this agreement, I am pleased that, nonetheless, after many many letters that I have written on behalf of concerned constituents, this undertaking has now been received. It will plainly take time to investigate this consulting with locals, but that is right and proper. "
And here is the text of the letter that Fergus refers to from Roy Brennan, the senior officer of the Scottish Government's Transport Directorate:
"Transport Scotland, the national transport agency
Còmhdhail Alba, buidheann nàiseanta na còmhdhail
Dear Mr Ewing
Further to our telephone conversation on 3 September, I can advise that I have discussed our proposal with Mr Mackay who is content for this modelling exercise to be scoped and developed, thereafter involving the local community.
Transport Scotland will establish a local focus group involving the community, local councillors, council officials and other parties at which a number of options/scenarios for the traffic signals that the community wish to have examined can be considered, agreed and then progressed to a modelling exercise. Results from this can then be presented back to the group (noting issues like the impacts on trunk and local traffic flows, where delays might occur or be transferred to, impact on ability for school children/pedestrians/cyclists/disabled people to cross the A96 etc). The findings of this work can then be considered by Mr Mackay for implementation.
I have asked my team to begin work on this matter by developing a brief and then engaging with the local community. This will initially be through The Highland Council local Ward Manager and the Nairn councillors, with whom we have developed an excellent working relationship. Further updates on progress and timings of this work will be provided to you as the project develops."