Council leader hits back at critics after Kirkintilloch junction reopens

The junction at Catherine Street, Kirkintilloch.
The junction at Catherine Street, Kirkintilloch.

East Dunbartonshire Council leader Rhondda Geekie has hit back at critics after, live on radio, she defended the reopening of all four arms of a busy junction in Kirkintilloch without traffic lights.

Dozens of people complained on the Herald’s Facebook page after Councillor Geekie told the Clyde 1 radio news presenter she “hadn’t had any reports” about people being unhappy since the Catherine Street junction reopened at Cowgate on Sunday November 27.

She added: “Certainly the people I have been speaking to are saying that it is actually working ...”

Residents who complained included Lynn Somerville, who posted: “Anyone who thinks this is ‘working’ has never tried to walk across the junction at lunch time. It’s a nightmare, it’s dangerous. It’s utterly bonkers.”

The radio programme was broadcast on Friday, December 2 - five days after the reopening of the junction which forms part of the controversial shared space in the town.

This week, the council leader told the Herald: “I was only responding to the journalist’s question about the reopening of the four arms of the junction, on which I personally, at that time, had not received complaints.

“I was certainly not saying I had never had complaints or concerns about the junction at any time which, of course, would not be true.”

The overwhelming number of people, (100+) posting on the Herald Facebook page were critical. Only a handful of people posted in support.

Supporters included Peter MacDonald who posted: “It will look lovely when it’s finished. I’m all in favour of the shared space scheme. It works perfectly well in other cities and Kirkie main street gets the makeover it needs to attract new business from the independent retail sector.”

You can listen to the full seven-and-a-half minute interview by clicking on the following link:

Since the original trial back in 2014, the Kirkintilloch Herald has been inundated with complaints and protests from residents about the controversial shared space in the town centre, particularly the reopening of the busy Catherine Street junction and has flagged this up on countless occasions with East Dunbartonshire Council. Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay has also voiced her concerns.

Our photographer Emma Mitchell also filmed a video of the junction on Monday, November 28, the day after all four arms reopened. Watch it here:

There have also been numerous articles in the Herald voicing people’s safety concerns, particularly for disabled pedestrians.