A bi-weekly newspaper has secured a £20m upgrade of an accident blackspot after a campaign calling on the Scottish Government to take action.
The Dumfries and Galloway Standard ran a 12-week series of stories and gathered 4,352 signatures on a petition in response to the tragic death of an 18-day-old baby in a three-car smash on the A75 in March.
The newspaper discovered that plans for improvements at the crash location near Dumfries had twice been shelved due to lack of funding.
It launched a campaign entitled Time to Act calling on ministers in Holyrood to put an end to the delays.
Petition sheets were distributed in local shops and the campaign was promoted on social media but it took a notable upturn after the parents of Oliver Hewson – the baby boy who died on the route – agreed to speak to the paper.
Eddie and Suzanne Hewson’s heartbreaking story saw the number of signatures double.
Last week transport minister Keith Brown announced that money had been found for a £20m new carriageway with work to start at the turn of the year.
He said the move had been agreed in response to the Standard’s campaign.
Editor Kenny Barr said: “It was a campaign that we had to take on. We knew we had a major fight on our hands and didn’t expect to achieve victory so quickly.
“I’m thankful to the Government for listening and acting so quickly and for the support of our readers, and Oliver Hewson’s parents, who helped make it happen.”
Chief reporter Craig Robertson, who presented the petition to the minister in the Scottish Parliament, added: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government listened to the view of our readers and the paper that this upgrade was long overdue.
“We gave a voice to their anger at the inaction of successive governments and it proves that a strong local newspaper campaign can have influence at the highest levels of politics. But more importantly this upgrade will make a notorious route much safer.”
The paper, part of Trinity Mirror’s Media Scotland group, marked the success with three pages of coverage in its Friday edition.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament to congratulate the newspaper.