At Random with Martin Laing week 52

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A85 campaign is still going on

We have campaigned consistently all this year for safety improvements on the A85.

Our Stay Alive on the A85 campaign has been driven by the large number of accidents on the road, particularly between Oban and Connel.

We had at least one more last week, which caused considerable disruption though thankfully no-one was seriously injured.

What we have asked for in our campaign is in three parts and is simple. We want the speed limit reduced to 50mph, double white lines all along the stretch between Oban and Connel, and a proper layby created at Pennyfuir cemetery (where there is already space available).

The campaign included a petition that was signed by hundreds of concerned people and which I handed to Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf by me some weeks ago.

Last week I emailed Mr Yousaf to point out that a number of further accidents had occurred since we met. I also asked him if he had yet had the opportunity to examine the issue and if there is any action being planned to address it.

This road and the frequency of accidents on it remains a serious problem that requires action.

We have not featured the issue often in recent weeks because Mr Yousaf promised us he would look at it and get back to us.

Mr Yousaf should be in no doubt that we are not going away and will continue to press for the three-pronged safety measures already mentioned.

Farmer’s family had a lucky escape

Another road causing concern is the B845 between Taynuilt and Kilchrenan.

As we reported last week, farmer Niall MacLeod’s wife and two children were lucky to escape when the Land Rover in which they were travelling was smashed into by a contractor’s truck.

Niall said his wife was ‘driving at crawling pace but could do nothing on the narrow B845 single-track road to avoid the crash’.

He added: ‘The point where the accident happened is highly dangerous, a steep drop on one side and a rocky outcrop on the other protruding into the road. There are frequent accidents at this point and the road desperately needs widened, which would take a few hours with a rock picker.’

Widening the route there would be an eminently sensible course of action and should be considered with urgency.

However, it is difficult to know what action to take on this single-track road in general other than to urge all drivers who use it to exercise greater care and to adopt a safety-first attitude.

Bank must rethink its branch closures

The Royal Bank of Scotland has deserved every one of the brickbats hurled in its direction over the swingeing number of planned branch closures.

That a state-owned financial institution should so callously abandon the remote and rural communities that rely on it is nothing short of shocking.

The bank’s board appears to be in complete ignorance of the geographical location of the many communities it seems so desperate to divest itself of with such brutal impugnity.

There have been stories of customers who have complained being told to use internet banking or that their next nearest branch is only whatever number of miles away.

Have they any inkling of the broadband problems faced in the Highlands and Islands and how it makes internet banking impossible?

And to tell someone on Barra that they can use their next nearest branch in Fort William (or wherever) is useless.

They must rethink these ludicrous and damaging closures.

What do you think?

Write to me at mlaing@obantimes.co.uk or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.