SCOTTISH Water has been urged to step up its efforts to resolve traffic hold-ups on the A78 after delays were reported just a few days into an 11-month project.

The utility company is installing new pipework under the trunk road between Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie.

Local councillor Ian Murdoch said he had received messages from a large number of constituents complaining about the congestion and delays - while his North Coast colleague, Cllr Tom Marshall, called the organisation of the work and the traffic management "a shambles", and said work should have been delayed until after the summer.

The installation of the new pipework will involve closing one carriageway of the A78 for stretches of between 200 and 250 metres at a time in Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie.

Traffic management was put in place on May 7, with a convoy system running from 8am to 5pm and temporary lights using automatic vehicle detection overnight.

Scottish Water says initial problems with the phasing of the lights were made worse by people jumping red lights, which automatically triggered multiple red lights and forced a reboot of the system.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Fears over tourism, business and domestic journeys being affected: Cllr Ian MurdochFears over tourism, business and domestic journeys being affected: Cllr Ian Murdoch (Image: North Ayrshire Council)

The News understands that Scottish Water are now urgently looking at long-term options to address the issues but from tonight (May 13) the hours of manual control will be extended until 7pm on weekdays and from 7am to 7pm at weekends.

Cllr Murdoch said: “Wemyss Bay and Inverkip are in Inverclyde. However, the congestion and delays are having a huge impact on many of my constituents and on general traffic moving to and from North Ayrshire.

“Tourism, business and domestic journeys are being adversely affected by this project and it has only just started.

“There is quite clearly a problem with southbound traffic taking much longer to get through than northbound.”

Councillor Murdoch said he had asked Scottish Water to explain why there had been "no apparent effort to ensure consistent traffic flow at peak times", and to set out plans to reduce congestion.

He added: “I expect we all agree that this new water main is welcome and absolutely necessary.

"However, I also think that we would all agree, it should be done with the least amount of disruption to constituents.

“I look forward to hearing Scottish Water's proposals for resolving the traffic management issues at this location.”

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Cllr Tom Marshall branded roadworks a 'shambles' after his prior warning about delaying the works was not heededCllr Tom Marshall branded roadworks a 'shambles' after his prior warning about delaying the works was not heeded (Image: North Ayrshire Council)

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall said: "I said previously to Scottish Water when they told us that work was starting that this should not have been taking place during the busy  summer season.

"But the organisation failed to consult with elected members, so we now have a complete shambles,"

A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware that our existing road traffic management has caused delays on the A78 and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience over the first few days of the project.

“Inevitably, the early stages of any traffic management can throw up issues that were not initially anticipated and clearly there have been problems.

“Urgent measures to improve the road traffic management are now being put in place.

“We like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while we work to improve the resilience of the local water network for our customers.”

A customer liaison officer is also present on site during working hours and can be identified by his yellow hat.

Customers can speak to him in person or contact Scottish Water by emailing or calling 0800 0778 778.