Publication - FOI/EIR release

Several questions regarding traffic signals on A75 in Springholm: FOI release

Published: 17 Dec 2019

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
17 Dec 2019
Several questions regarding traffic signals on A75 in Springholm: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02489
Date received: 7 Nov 2019
Date responded: 17 Dec 2019
Information requested


13 questions in relation to traffic lights in Springholm and clarified your request on 18 November:

  • "Details of the time delays now operating at the eastbound and westbound exiting channel signals between initial detection of a speeding vehicle and the commencement of presentation of the amber signal preceding red. If this delay varies according to location, time of day etc please give the respective periods and reasons for the variation.
  • By what means/technology the trigger signal from each of the four sets of inductive loops is now being transmitted to the respective signal control units.  If the signalling method varies please confirm the technology with respect to each of the four controlled channels. Please also confirm that the loops at Faulds Cottage still transmit speed data to ATC SH4.
  • Confirmation of any systemic trigger signal upper speed level override/cancellation which such drivers may be exploiting
  • Confirmation of any known technology e.g. bluetooth signal blocking which such professional rogue drivers may be deploying to defeat the public safety the signals are intended to afford
  • What investigatory action or public safety action by way of hard gateway calming etc , if any, does Transport Scotland now propose to initiate to end this obvious systemic failure of these signals under the conditions we have filmed
  • We request reconfirmation of the distances between the respective replaced points of detection and their respective signal halt line
  • We find that the transverse white on red slow down road marking, as shown in the attached images taken near Rose Cottage and at Mill Dam are now absent.  Why has this traffic calming measure been removed altogether.
  • We wish to know the indentity of your source of information that the system speed thresholds remain unchanged so we may submit a FOISA request to them
  • What part, if any, of the forgoing understanding you may dispute as incorrect and, if so what is your position on the facts relating to these VAS units
  • We wish confirmation of the present trigger speed values of the all Crocketford and Springholm A75 VAS units
  • Where any of these VAS units are set, in effect, to  tolerate a degree of speeding we wish to know the specific public safety policy basis for maintaining that tolerance
  • What measures, if any, does Transport Scotland plan to take to combat this most unwelcome development
  • We wish to know what progess, if any has been made in this regard and the anticipated timescales for such approval or indeed the liklihood of such approval. We also request disclosure of any written communication which refers, suggest or requests a reduction in red trigger activation frequency here as a prerequisite to obtaining any such approval. Have you received any such communication
  • When, if at all, will this safety sign damage be rectified
  • The western off side chevron sign previously displaying hazard/caution warning of the approaching left hand bend before entering Springholm has evidently also been destroyed in an RTC. We are disappointed its replacement has not so far been prioritised, if indeed its destruction has even been noted by ScotlandTranserv. Has an order been issued for its replacement, and when will this chevron sign be replaced?
  • When will these road surface defects be properly rectified by resurfacing?
  • On 2nd May 2019 ScotlandTranserv distributed to villagers a Springholm Road Safety Measures Attitude Survey seeking their thoughts, opinions and attitudes to the various courses of action they have undertaken in Springholm, per a multiple question survey and additional comments section. May we have an identity redacted analysis of the number and range of responses to each set question and transcript of any comments?"
     
Response

Your requests for information have been extracted from your letter and our responses are numbered for ease of reference.

1.    ‘Details of the time delays now operating at the eastbound and westbound exiting channel signals between initial detection of a speeding vehicle and the commencement of presentation of the amber signal preceding red. If this delay varies according to location, time of day etc please give the respective periods and reasons for the variation.’
The time delays now operating are as follows -
Springholm (Castle Douglas side) - No delays.
Springholm (Dumfries side) - 2 second delay into town, 1 second delay out of town.
Delay times are set bespoke for each location, based upon our engineering judgement from on-site information, which is linked to the distance of the detection point from the signals. The delay is included to allow time for a non-offending vehicle that has passed the detection to pass the lights before they face a red signal.

2.    ‘by what means/technology the trigger signal from each of the four sets of inductive loops is now being transmitted to the respective signal control units.  If the signalling method varies please confirm the technology with respect to each of the four controlled channels. Please also confirm that the loops at Faulds Cottage still transmit speed data to ATC SH4.’

The data transfers from the loops to the signal cabinet via a cable in the carriageway at all 4 locations.  The cable at Faulds Cottage was replaced in December 2017 and is operating effectively.

3.    a) “confirmation of any systemic trigger signal upper speed level override/cancellation which such drivers may be exploiting’

An exemption under section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above request.
       b) “confirmation of any known technology e.g. bluetooth signal blocking which such professional rogue drivers may be deploying to defeat the public safety the signals are intended to afford”
An exemption under section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above request.
      
c) “what investigatory action or public safety action by way of hard gateway calming etc , if any, does Transport Scotland now propose to initiate to end this obvious systemic failure of these signals under the conditions we have filmed’
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.  As you are aware from previous discussions and correspondence (e.g. our letter references 2017/0032506, 2018/0017761 and 2018/0044378) we are not proposing to take any further action in terms of revised hard engineered carriageway design in Springholm.  If, however, you do not have copies of these letters then please contact me again and I will send you copies.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we do not have the information you have requested.  This is because we do not hold information in respect of investigatory actions or public safety action by way of hard gateway calming etc, as a result of the conditions filmed.

4.    ‘we request reconfirmation of the distances between the respective replaced points of detection and their respective signal halt line’

The westbound loop is now located 130m from the signals.

5.    ‘We find that the transverse white on red slow down road marking, as shown in the attached images taken near Rose Cottage and at Mill Dam are now absent.  Why has this traffic calming measure been removed altogether.’

They were removed when the signals were installed on 11 December 2017. The removal of the “Slow” markings was necessary as this type of measure in thermoplastic paint on the approach to the signals would be a hazard in the event of a vehicle braking for the signals, as paint on the carriageway provides far less grip to vehicle tyres and can increase the risk of a vehicle skidding or losing control particularly if they are braking at the signal stop line or in a queue of slowing traffic.

6.    ‘We wish to know the indentity of your source of information that the system speed thresholds remain unchanged so we may submit a FOISA request to them’

The information was provided by our Operating Company, Scotland TranServ, and as the relevant public authority Transport Scotland are the organisation responsible for FOISA requests.

7.    a) ‘what part, if any, of the forgoing understanding you may dispute as incorrect and, if so what is your position on the facts relating to these VAS units”.

The vehicle activated signs (VAS) were originally used to trigger the traffic signals before the loops were installed. The trigger threshold is the same for the signs and for the signals. The signs are intended to remind drivers of the speed limit if they are driving too fast and to give them an opportunity to slow down to a level which does not activate the signals, therefore enabling them to proceed through the village without delay.
      
b) “we wish confirmation of the present trigger speed values of the all Crocketford and Springholm A75 VAS units”.
The trigger speed is 33mph.
      
c) “where any of these VAS units are set, in effect, to  tolerate a degree of speeding we wish to know the specific public safety policy basis for maintaining that tolerance’
An exemption under section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no recorded information is held in respect of the above question.     

8.    ‘what measures, if any, does Transport Scotland plan to take to combat this most unwelcome development’

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested.  Section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above question.

9.    ‘We wish to know what progess, if any has been made in this regard and the anticipated timescales for such approval or indeed the liklihood of such approval. We also request disclosure of any written communication which refers, suggest or requests a reduction in red trigger activation frequency here as a prerequisite to obtaining any such approval. Have you received any such communication’

An exemption under section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the “likihood”  aspect of thispart of the above request.
Changes to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) can be made in Scotland as the legislation is now devolved. Consideration of these signals within any amendment would be dependent on an evidence base that identifies suitability for further roll out.
An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’.  Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.  We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.  We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate.  However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

10.    ‘When, if at all, will this safety sign damage be rectified?

An exemption under section 17(1) of FOISA applies as no information is held in respect of the above question.
This damage is scheduled for replacement with a date yet to be decided.

11.    ‘The western off side chevron sign previously displaying hazard/caution warning of the approaching left hand bend before entering Springholm has evidently also been destroyed in an RTC. We are disappointed its replacement has not so far been prioritised, if indeed its destruction has even been noted by ScotlandTranserv. Has an order been issued for its replacement, and when will this chevron sign be replaced?’

This was identified on 18 November as a Category One defect, and will be repaired within 28 days, in accordance with our Operating Company Contract.

12.    ‘When will these road surface defects be properly rectified by resurfacing?’

This scheme began on 16 December 2019 and will resolve the surface defects. 

13.    ‘On 2nd May 2019 ScotlandTranserv distributed to villagers a Springholm Road Safety Measures Attitude Survey seeking their thoughts, opinions and attitudes to the various courses of action they have undertaken in Springholm, per a multiple question survey and additional comments section. May we have an identity redacted analysis of the number and range of responses to each set question and transcript of any comments?’

We have  applied exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to all information identified.  This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before we reach a settled public view.  Disclosing the content of these discussions on the above aspects will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing.

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