Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

'Fast track' hope for sign review

A82
Highland Council said more bilingual signs could be added to the A82

Councillors have considered the Scottish Government's response to their call for greater use of Gaelic on trunk routes in the Highlands.

Highland Council's Gaelic committee wrote to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson urging him to put bilingual signs on the A9, A96 and A82.

Mr Stevenson had said the impact of existing bilingual signage would have to be reviewed first.

The Scottish Government said it was seeking to "fast track" this review.

The report from the review of existing trunk road signage was not expected until 2011.

The Gaelic committee wrote to Mr Stevenson asking that the review should not be seen as a barrier to the expansion of bilingual signage.

The Scottish Government wants to see a continued increase in the visibility of Gaelic in Scotland, building on a notable increase in recent years
Scottish Government spokesman

Road signs in both Gaelic and English have been requested by the local authority on key routes to and from the region.

It asked the Scottish Government to give "urgent consideration" to signage on the A9 from Perth northwards.

Also on the A96 just east of Inverness and on the A82 through the centre of Inverness to the Kessock roundabout.

Committee chairman Hamish Fraser said it would bring the language to the attention of more people.

In his reply to the council, Mr Stevenson applauded its commitment to the language and its work in putting bilingual signs on local authority-controlled roads.

However, he said the review required a minimum of three years of data gathered on what impact existing signage on trunk roads was having.

Mr Stevenson said previous research had shown that drivers spent longer reading bilingual signs than those in one language.

Thursday's Gaelic committee agreed to write to the minister again urging him to fast track the review.

'Fast track'

The Scottish Government said Gaelic was an integral part of Scotland's heritage, national identity and cultural life.

A spokesman said: "The Scottish Government wants to see a continued increase in the visibility of Gaelic in Scotland, building on a notable increase in recent years.

"We want to ensure road signs reflect the importance of Gaelic and that is why since becoming Minister, Mr Stevenson has already extended the use of Gaelic road signs on the A82 through Inverness, building on the existing programme being implemented on other trunk roads across the Highlands."

He added: "Transport Scotland has a responsibility to evaluate its policies, including bilingual policy, but the minister is clear that he wants any review to be fast tracked and completed as soon as possible.

"He has asked senior officials for advice on accelerating this evaluation."

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