Holding back the waves

A CONTROVERSIAL project which will illuminate the roads to and from Cumbernauld has temporarily fallen by the wayside.

The News has learned that the so-called 'neon waves' project has run into difficulties after its trademark spotlight was branded a hazard to road safety - when a test run prompted a host of complaints from terrified motorists.

They feared that the intensity of its glare could turn the area into an accident blackspot - and council staff have been forced to concede that their original plans must be jettisoned for safety's sake.

Their design was intended to give motorists the impression that they were driving through a wave, by placing the spotlights behind metal 'fins' at the roadside.

This was intended to reflect the origin of Cumbernauld's original name 'Comar-nan-Allt' - or 'the meeting of the waters.'

The project - costing a whopping 963,000 - was already a political hot potato, prompting howls of protest and claims that the money could have been better spent on improving the town's amenities.

It adds up to a public relations disaster for NLC who are already facing no shortage of flak from locals, following complaints that the town has not been properly gritted over the cold snap.

A spokesperson for NLC denied that the blunder would incur further costs for council tax payers. And he added that the spotlights would not go to waste.

He said: "Weather conditions over the last few weeks have made it difficult for the contractor to access the sites to carry out remaining works.

"In the meantime, the council's consultants have been working on measures to address minor issues identified during initial site tests of the lights," he added.

"Existing spotlights will not be replaced or removed but a 'honeycomb' anti-glare filter will be fitted to some of the lights."

Scottish Nationalist councillor Tom Johnston said that the episode was a poor reflection on NLC.

"You would have thought that anyone attempting this would have decided how the lighting would have sat down and tried to work out how road safety would be affected by the lights," he said.

"I am not against initiatives which make the town look more attractive but this was a poor use of money in hard times," he added.