BALLINTOY councillor Cara McShane, who says she regularly sees overseas tourists driving on the wrong side of roads near north Antrim’s top tourist attractions, has been told by highway bosses that if Moyle Council or the National Trust want specialist ‘Keep Left’ warning signage they should put it up themselves.
Speaking at a meeting between Moyle councillors and Roads Service officials, the Sinn Fein councillor said, “all the time”, she sees foreign holiday-makers driving incorrectly on the right hand side of roads, particularly after they leave junctions at spots like Carrick-A-Rede and nearby Ballintoy Harbour.
Cllr McShane acknowledged that Cushendun Independent councillor Randall McDonnell had campaigned on this issue in the past but she told roads chiefs: “Roads Service need to start to look at this far more seriously, particularly us being a tourist area”.
The response from Terry Fulton, Roads Service Northern Division’s Network Development Manager, was that the matter had indeed been raised with them before but he said either the Council or the National Trust could put up ‘Keep Left’ signs on their own property if they so wished.
Back in 2006, Randal McDonnell asked for painted arrows on roads to remind overseas holiday-makers to keep to the left when they emerged from junctions and laybys along the north coast.
At that time, he also said he noticed foreign tourists driving on the wrong side of the road.
But in 2006, Michael Armour from Roads Service Traffic Section, said: “These foreign tourists, to which you refer, having arrived in the country, use either their own vehicle or a hired one to drive around.
“In doing so they negotiate motorways, dual carriageways, roundabouts, normal road junctions, etc. to arrive at the attractions in Moyle.
“Nowhere in their travels will they have encountered road markings at a junction such as those which your council is now requesting at the exits from the tourist attractions in the Moyle area.
“As the requested road marking arrangement is not standard practice and we are not aware of any exceptional reason to introduce this arrangement, I’m afraid Roads Service cannot accede to your Council’s request on this occasion,” said Mr Armour.
Road markings or signs were also rejected by Roads Service in 2008.
And by that time Moyle Council had secured the support of the Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership in their call for the signs.
But in 2008, John Young, a traffic engineer with the Northern Division of the Roads Service, in a letter to Moyle Council, said: ‘Foreign drivers who arrive at tourist destinations in Moyle Council area have already travelled some distance without seeing road markings indicating which side of the road to drive on.
‘Roads Service are not aware of any problems, therefore, we have no plans to introduce any new markings at present,’ he added.
Earlier in 2008, Roads Service official Terry Fulton told Moyle Council people would be unhappy if a large number of ‘Drive on the Left’ signs were erected in tourist areas like the north Antrim coast.
Mr Fulton said at the time: “If we put up these signs there would be signs all over the place and in a tourist area I’m not sure if it would be altogether welcome.”