Time for Aberdeenshire Council to 'show teeth' over HGV drivers flouting rules on historic Deeside bridge

(C) Supplied

Outraged councillors are to urge local authority staff to push for prosecutions of “disturbing” drivers who flout weight limits on a historic Deeside bridge. Dashcam footage emerged this week of a lorry turning onto the B976 Crathie to Gairnshiel road in Aberdeenshire – which leads to the 18th-century Gairnshiel Bridge. That is despite a CCTV deterrent over the river crossing and numerous warning signs informing motorists of the 18-tonne restriction.

It is in place to protect the community and its economy from the massive disruption a closure would cause. Earlier this month, a Danish tour company apologised after the cameras captured one of its vehicles on the bridge. Although the vehicle was under the weight limit, its driver was forced to use planks of wood to enable his vehicle to cross the steep and narrow bridge.

Upper Deeside councillor Geva Blackett slammed the “selfish” HGV drivers still ignoring the rules. She added: “I think a strong conviction would soon change people’s behaviour. “It is inexcusable and disappointing that people are ignoring the clear signs displaying the limit.

“It is in place to protect the bridge and protect the economy of the local area. “Businesses are really concerned about the bridge, because if it closes it means a 40-mile diversion. “Are people still going to come?”

Gairnshiel Bridge links Aberdeenshire to Moray on the A939 Ballater to Tomintoul road and is a major route for tourists out to enjoy Deeside. Hundreds are expected to use it today alone, travelling from Speyside and further afield for the Lonach Gathering. Ms Blackett has successfully had plans passed for a new bridge crossing the River Gairn but it will not be built before 2022.

The recurring problem of inappropriate use of the existing bridge has prompted anger from Ms Blackett’s ward colleague Peter Argyle too. The council’s deputy leader supported calls for a tougher stance and said: “Again, this is really disappointing. “We have had a number of cases reported to us in the past few weeks and the council should be pursuing the companies and drivers ignoring the rules.”

The council’s infrastructure chairman added: “It is absolutely time for the council to start showing its teeth.

“We hoped the signs would work but now we need to take it to the next level.

“We have to protect our bridges.”

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