Publication - FOI/EIR release

A75 traffic controls within Springholm: EIR review

Published: 22 Dec 2021

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
22 Dec 2021
A75 traffic controls within Springholm: EIR review
FOI reference: FOI/202100251313 review of 202100242248
Date received: 28 Oct 2021
Date responded: 29 Nov 2021
Information requested

1. Details of the time delays now operating at the Springholm A75 eastbound and westbound entering and exiting channel signals between initial detection of a speeding approaching vehicle and the commencement of presentation of the amber signal preceding red. If this delay varies according to signal approach location, time of day, traffic volumes etc., please give the respective periods and reasons for the variation.

2. Please confirm that the inductive loops installed in the carriageway surface at Faulds Cottage serve as the sole triggering provision for presenting red halt signals to speeding drivers in the eastbound channel at the frontage of our property Springholm House and its associated paddock and also still transmit speed data from both channels there to ATC SH4.

3. What investigatory action or public safety action by way of hard calming etc , if any, does Transport Scotland now propose to initiate to end the systemic failing of the present traffic measures in respect of compensating speeding which we have seen up to 55 mph in the case of 6 axle HGVs and the mid to high 60's mph in respect of lighter vehicles, with speeds around twice the WHO/UN recommended safe residential street speed being very frequent at the village periphery involving around 200M of carriageway at each end.

4. When the inductive loops were being installed to replace VAS radar we obtained details of the distances between the respective new points of detection and the respective signal halt line in order that we could determine effective reaction/braking distance when the other parameters of signal change to lead amber and red were known. We note from recent correspondence with Michael Pagan that there are now plans to undertake structural maintenance works to the A75 carriageway within the east of the village. Will the proposal necessitate the removal and replacement of inductive loops associated with the speed activated traffic halt signals? Will this resurfacing work include any change to the distances between the respective points of inductive loop speed detection and their respective signal halt line? We ask becase when carriageway at the west was resurfaced we were dismayed to find that the inductive loops which trigger the western exiting speed control halt signals were moved from Balharrie inwards to Lavender Cottage thereby ending the ability of the system to detect drivers who, having passed Lavender Cottage at a non-triggering speed, then increase their speed to 33mph and higher at the former location free now from any possibility of detection. This loop move inwards has been wholly detrimental to the safety of vulnerable road stakeholders downstream of the revised detection point because there is both a greater maginitude and frequency of compensating speed as result of reduced reduced red halt signal activation. We are now hypervigilant that absolutely no further systemic changes should be carried out by stealth to the detriment of the traffic calming system's reactivity toward speeding drivers. Since the inception of the speed activated halt signals there has been a series of systemic changes all of which, without exception, have been found thereafter to have compromised the reactivity of the speed activated traffic calming when speeding drivers are present on the village street all to the detriment of residents' sense of security and wellbeing beside fast street traffic, none of which is compliant with WHO/UN residential steet safety advice and at many times is twice or more the advised safe speed.

5. It was our understanding and observation that the four traffic calming VAS units in Springholm, when initally deployed, operated as the VAS units subsequently installed in Crocketford do, viz. they presented an illuminated slow down warning to every driver in range of their radar detection beam whose vehicle exceeded 30mph. It is our observation and understanding that when the reverse discrimination speed control signals proposal was presented to public meetings of invited Springholm residents the proposal was to activate the signals via embedded loops, as we understand is now the case. It is our understanding that when the reverse discrimination speed control signals were installed rather than operate via inductive loops these were all triggered by adjacent VAS units which, in turn, were recalibrated to presented an illuminated slow down warning to every driver in range of their radar detection beam whose vehicle exceeded the intended trigger speed threshold for the new signals viz according to the presentation to the village public meeting by Mr Tait and Derek Williamson a speed at least 2 mph above the legal limit. It is our understanding that later when the unreliablity of radar trigger was determined to be unacceptable, the VAS units were disconnected from the signal controllers in favour of inductive loops then installed in the road specifically dedicated to this purpose. Our radar observations lead us to understand that we now have a legacy situation where, either by oversight or design, the traffic calming protective VAS units in Springholm differ significantly in their propensity to illuminate in response to speeding drivers both compared to their initial 2015 settings and to those installed at Crocketford. This is wholly unacceptable to us. The VAS units should always illuminate in response to all speeding whereas we observe vast numbers of drivers over 30mph but under 33mph passing unresponsive VAS signs. This is systemic capitualtion to low level speeders in Springholm and it simply does not happen with the VAS units in Crocketford, there all speeds above 30mph cause the VAS signals to illuminate. When were these VAS calibrations last checked for conformity of reaction to speeding at each village? Why are these VAS units set to different values at Crocketford with the Springholm units set to ignore all speeding below 33mph? We believe we have been given false information in previous FOISA enquiries on this matter. We wish to know the present trigger speed values of all Crocketford and Springholm A75 VAS units. It is intolerable to us that the Springholm VAS units are obviously set to ignore up to 10% over the street speed limit when every additional, illegal and systemically unchallenged mph an impatient driver is permitted to proceed at by unreactive VAS units and trigger loops substantially inceases the probability of a fatal collison outcome for vulnerable road stakeholders present on or beside this international road which, for unfathomable reasons, continues to be our community main street despite its egregious traffic threats. There can be no possible public safety policy basis for maintaining that speeding tolerance in what is purely a non-punitive driver educational device now entirely unconnected to the Springholm speed control halt signals. A tolerance of speeding constitutes an own goal for road safety provision by hamstringing the optimal performance of these VAS driver warning devices, installed for community protection here at significant public expense.

6. At the last public meeting of Springholm residents held on 26 March 2019, Stuart Wilson stated that by the end of summer 2019 it was Transport Scotland's intention to seek approval of the reverse discrimination speed control traffic lights being trialled here for inclusion within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions legislation with a view to identical enforcement status for red light disobedience as other traffic signals therein designated already have. We wish to know what progess, if any, has been made in this regard in the intervening 2 years and the anticipated timescales for such approval or indeed the present liklihood of obtaining such approval as these unenforceable red halt signals mean nothing to vast numbers of defiant speeding drivers. 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? We ask this because, troublingly we have seen a steep decline in red signal triggers that has not been accompanied by any reduction in observed illegal speeds, indeed quite the reverse, particularly since the easing of Covid restrictions and a vast rise in traffic volumes.

7. Which residential trunk road steets in Scotland are currently designated as 20mph limits either on a trial or permanent basis?

8. Are the any known technical or legal impediments peventing the A75 euroroute within Springholm from being designated a 20MPH limit when this protection is later rolled out to other Scottish towns and villages across the nation?

9. Is there any known legal or engineering impediment which has resulted in the omission of a bypass for Springholm and Crocketford?

10. When will we know definitively whether or not Springholm is to be bypassed under the STPR2 review and if so the anticipated timescale for completion?

11. The community was last pomised this bypass in 1989 by Ian Lang, as then Secretary for State for Scotland, who confirmed that plans were being laid after completion of the Glenuce village bypass. As the legacy agency responsible for such matters, what records have you inherited of these stalled Springholm/Crocketford bypass plans?

12. On what road safety policy basis is the A75 within Springholm of the same appearance as the A75 outside in respect of having both white carriageway edge markings and cat's eyes all along the street whereas within Crocketford the A75 has neither and, as such, resembles a normal street not a high speed road. Have you considered the percussive noise nuisance for residents gererated by freight vehicles passing over steet cat's eyes? What is the safety justification for these two provisions here and yet not in Crocketford? Is it because higher 85th percentile speed ranges are being maintained in Springholm paticularly by the largest freight vehicles at night, hence the cat's eys and white markings, even with high insensity street lighting?

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. This was subsequently made into a formal report titled "A75 Speed Management Measures Residents' Survey" dated November 20219 with recommendations. This was suppressed and withheld from villagers until our last FOISA appeal. The recommedations for action set out in Section 6 of the Report included "Work with the Police to encourage higher profile speed enforcement" No such higher enforecemt has ever happened: indeed there is not an iota of speed enforcement in Springholm. If it had we would not be still filming large numbers HVG at 40-55mph+. Was this report ever shared with Police Scotland? If so, when and at what level within Police Scotland was the report shared? What, if any, was the Police Scotland formal response to Transport Scotland in respect of the villagers' reported demand for speed enforcement? What ongoing liaison/sharing, if any, is there between Transport Scotland and Police Scotland in respect of the former's embedded ATC street speeding data, particularly that gathered at ATC1 and ATC4? We consider Police Scotland to have no interest whatsoever in speed enforcement on the Springhom village A75 nor against HGV drivers persistently violating their class speed limit all along the A75; an almost universal state of affairs these days with speeds typically 50-55mph. A perfect storm for ongoing speeding abuse when such impatient drivers reach Springholm, particualrly at night when slower pace setters are not present in the traffic flow.

14. Traffic speed data from each of the four traffic count/classifiers (ATCs) along the village A75 between 1 June 2021 and the latest available date for which data is available, giving at each channel location data in a format which will permit the dates, times, locations and directions it was gathered at to be determined and specifying the commencing and ending time of eac data set. We attach examples of the two data formats we are again requesting for the avoidance of doubt viz. speed bins by hour by week with 85th percentile and average speed by class by day by week both in MPH.

15. Data from fixed equipment along the village A75 between 1 June 2021 and the latest available date from which Transport Scotland and/or its contractors determine both the number of red stop signal triggers and the respective numbers of drivers in compliance/noncompliance with stop signals presented to the traffic flow by the reverse speed discrimination traffic signals. Please present the data in a format which will permit the dates, times, locations and directions it was gathered at to be determined and specify the commencing and ending time of each data set.

16. Several years ago we were designated restricted correspondents by Transport Scotland officials ostensibley under its Unacceptable Actions Policy (UAP) without time limit or opportunity to appeal. Are we still so categorised? If not when was this invidious UAP status ended? We have heard nothing since our attempts to have this lifted were thwarted. If still current, is it still indefinite with no pending review in prospect? That would seem Staninist when our sole motivation is to secure better protection against fast traffic for vulnerable road stakholders in the face of obtuse public agencies that continue to deny our community the robust application of the present speed limit let alone the 20mph one advocated by the UN and WHO for residential streets like ours. At this time how many correspondents remain restricted under the application of UAP? Of these how many are road safety related?

Response

I have concluded that the original decision be confirmed, with modifications. In relation to point number 5 below, I have concluded that a different decision should be substituted.

I have renumbered all the points from your original request in sequence below. The scope of my review extends to points 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12 below, but for completeness I have included the original responses to all other parts of your request.

I am content that the majority of the information requested is environmental information for the purposes of the EIRs and that your request was dealt with under the appropriate legislative regime. However, I should explain that we have dealt with your request for “the present trigger speed values of all Crocketford and Springholm A75 VAS”, contained within point 5 below, under FOISA.

1. The information you have requested is available from FOI 19/00176, Questions in respect of the traffic controls A75 Springholm: FOI release - gov.scot (www.gov.scot). Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.

The leaving amber is set at UK standard 3 seconds and this have not changed since the last time you asked, this time does not vary during the time of day or pending traffic volumes.

2. The loops are the sole detector and trigger system for the signals.

3. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because this is a Statutory Instrument published by the Department for Transport [DfT] via the “The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2016”.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about “The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2016”, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

4. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because this is a Statutory Instrument published by the Department for Transport [DfT] via the “The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2016”.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about “The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2016”, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

However, outwith the EIRs I can tell you that the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2016 prescribe the design, layout and conditions of use for traffic signs, including road markings, traffic signals and pedestrian, cycle and equestrian crossings used on the public road network. This is a Statutory Instrument published by the Department for Transport [DfT]. As the inclusion of these signals would be a fundamental change to the TSRDG, in addition to consultation with stakeholders such
the police, emergency services, local authorities and DfT, full public consultations will be required.

5. I have highlighted the parts of the point above that are requests for recorded information, and can confirm that these were answered in our response to your original request. Answers were:

  • Inspections were carried out in Crocketford and Springholm on 14 December 2020. Follow up repair work was carried out on the Crocketford signs on 8 April where all sign functionalities were again inspected.
  • The VAS units at Crocketford and Springholm settings are the same.

In relation to your request for the present trigger speed values of all Crocketford and Springholm A75 VAS units, I am substituting a different decision here. As you are aware from previous correspondence, trigger speeds have not changed since 2017. In addition, I would refer you to paragraph 23 of the Scottish Information Commissioners decision 102/2019 in respect of case FOI/18/02472.

The Scottish Government does not hold the information that you have information regarding the present trigger speed values of all Crocketford and Springholm A75 VAS units as they have not changed since 2017. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

6. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because, evaluation of performance of a road safety scheme or highway improvement scheme such as this is usually carried out after a minimum of 3 years of a scheme being installed. As the final change to the technology was undertaken in the summer of
2018 we are now in the process of commencing the full evaluation. The findings from this evaluation will also inform the development of the policy on the use of these signals.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about the technology , clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

7. A. Please see below list of Trunk Roads which have 20mph speed limits, either temporary or permanent. Those not listed as permanent are temporary.
A68 Lauder
A68 Earlston
A68 St Boswells
A68 Jedburgh
A7 Selkirk
A7 Hawick
A77 Maybole (permanent)
A702 Biggar (permanent)
A702 West Linton
A702 Carlops
A84 Callander
A85 Comrie
A85 Crieff
A9 Thurso

8. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because we do not hold any information for Springholm from being designated a 20MPH limit.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about Springholm from being designated a 20MPH limit , clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

9. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because we do not hold any plans for a bypass at Springholm/Crocketford.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about a bypass for Springholm and Crocketford, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

10. I can now provide an answer to this part of your request. In relation to STPR2 timescales, it is intended to conclude STPR2 this winter, with publication of recommendations for investment and this will be followed by the appropriate statutory consultation period.

11. A. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. This is because Transport Scotland do not hold any plans for a bypass at Springholm/Crocketford.

I note that the public interest test should have been applied to this exception. This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about traffic management measures, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

12. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because the carriageway edge markings and cat's eyes were designed to the relevant Standards by designer within our previous Operating Company, Scotland TranServ.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information the carriageway edge markings and cat's eyes, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

However, outwith the EIRs, I can provide you with the following information. The road studs and edge lines have been designed to the relevant Standards and it is the decision of the designer to incorporate or not on a case by case basis. Transport Scotland does not have access to the decision making process or if noise was considered as these were designed by the previous Operating Company, Scotland TranServ. We can confirm the road lining and studs meet the relevant Standards and we have not received any other complaints regarding noise from the community.

13. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. This is because the report was not shared with Police Scotland. In terms of sharing of traffic speed data with Police Scotland from our speed monitoring on the A75 through Springholm, we shared the classified speed data following the public meeting held in 2019.
In terms of ongoing liaison with Police Scotland, this is carried out as and when required on a case by case basis on matters of road safety and driver behaviour. In addition, as part of the new Network Management Contract (NMC) our Operating Companies are required to manage an annual Road Safety Group meeting for every route within their Unit. The first meeting for the A75 took place early in October with key stakeholders including Police Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council.

I note that the public interest test should have been applied to the application of this exception. This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception.

While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about traffic management measures, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

14. Please see Annex A – H of the original response. Annex A - D show the mean speed data and E – H show the 85th percentile speed data. There is some speed data missing from the information provided for certain dates. This is as a consequence of technical faults which have since been resolved. It should also be noted that the raw data may contain columns with zero values or some unrealistic figures which can affect the total average columns. This raw data is analysed and verified before use to ensure
accuracy.

15. Please see Annex I of the original response to this request. Please note whilst this data provides the number of activations, it cannot be used to detect drivers in compliance with the red lights.

16. You are still on the restricted contact list under our Unacceptable Actions Policy. This will be reviewed this year. There are 3 correspondents on the restricted contact list under our Unacceptable Actions Policy with 1 related to road safety.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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