Baxter left frustrated after being ‘fobbed off’ over flashing 20mph school signs

Fort William resident, Chris Jones (left) with Councillor Andrew Baxter at the non-working warning lights beside Lundavra Primary School last week. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO F45 Lundavra Lights 01
Fort William resident, Chris Jones (left) with Councillor Andrew Baxter at the non-working warning lights beside Lundavra Primary School earlier this week. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

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Lochaber councillor Andrew Baxter was knocked back in his attempt to get the issue of non-functioning 20mph speed warning signs on the approaches to schools added as an urgent item to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the full Highland Council.

It was expected that only a handful of the flashing 20mph signs on the approaches to schools across Lochaber and the rest of Highland region would be operational for last week’s return of pupils after their October break.

Highland Council headquarters In Inverness. NO F19 council HQ
Highland Council headquarters In Inverness.
NO F19 council HQ

The problem appears to lie with the current SIM card technology within the units as they are apparently no longer supported by the current or alternative suppliers due to out-dated 2G capabilities.

The council told the Lochaber Times last week that the SIM cards had been deactivated by Vodafone, without the local authority’s knowledge, as the system used to contact the signs has been phased out.

The replacement SIMs do not work with the equipment the council has and so it is now in contact with another company to find a work-around in order to get the signs operational again at least short term.

Although the issue was not on the agenda for the full council meeting, Councillor Baxter felt the matter was sufficiently urgent to ask for it to be considered.

However, shortly before the start of the meeting, his request was turned down on procedural reasons.

He did manage to slip the subject into later discussions on other matters, making a direct plea to council depute leader, Alasdair Christie, to intervene and make this particular issue a key item for the council’s recovery board, which the latter chairs.

‘With the change in daylight hours recently, it’s quite disappointing we have not reactivated these,’ said Councillor Baxter.

I would be concerned if this issue was to continue through the winter and wasn’t resolved by the spring.’

Councillor Christie responded, saying he would look at the matter himself and ‘see what can be done to improve it’.

But Councillor Baxter told the Lochaber Times this week: ‘I was disappointed that my attempt to debate this as an urgent item was blocked.

‘However, I did ask about it during discussions on other matters. Yet, again I was fobbed off by a suggestion that the council is replacing the SIM cards. This is wrong.

‘From the information I’ve been given every sign requires a hardware upgrade. To make matters worst the council hasn’t even drawn up the tender documents to have these replaced. The council continues to fiddle around, whilst school safety is at risk.’