Roads firm U-turn after painting over love pledge

Campaigners angered by the removal of a decades-old love pledge from a Highland road have been told it can be restored.

The Del heart Kelly sign is said to have been painted on a rockface on the A835 south of Ullapool in the 1970s.BEAR Scotland, which maintains the trunk road for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, has twice covered it up after someone complained.That followed attempts by an unknown painter to restore the lettering days after it was erased with black paint.A petition was launched on Wednesday on the website for the graffiti to remain on the roadside near the Braemore junction close to Corrieshalloch Gorge.It said the graffiti had provided a “heart/rock-warming welcome to those driving north since the 70s”.A BEAR Scotland spokeswoman said: “We work hard to maintain the routes we manage across the north west to the highest possible standards and after a public complaint, we removed the graffiti in line with our contractual obligations.“However, the note is clearly significant to the local community and it will not be removed should it reappear.”Welcome Ullapool, which promotes the area, said: “If there are resources to send out people to paint over such an innocuous and quite harmless piece of local art that many people know and like, then we might ask why the nearby public toilets at the old Corrieshalloch car park remain closed despite many local requests to reopen them.”BEAR Scotland said it had removed the sign after someone complained about it.The IAM RoadSmart motoring group said a blind eye should be turned to such long-standing graffiti so long as it did not encourage more.Neil Greig, its Scotland-based policy and research director, said: “There are rules in place for the removal of home-made signs, but Highland roadsides are still littered with a plethora of placards, old vehicles and other more creative ways of drawing attention to local tourist destinations.“Unless they can be proven to have caused a safety hazard or a distraction, most are just harmless eyesores.“IAM RoadSmart don’t want to encourage public displays of affection on every rock face, and thankfully most people know not to do that in such a beautiful environment.“In deciding which to remove, BEAR needs to balance all the potential risks to their staff as well as to the travelling public.”

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