Transport minister under A77 pressure

Conservative MSP Brian Whittle is pushing for  the Scottish Government to take seriously the need for the A77 to be upgraded.
Conservative MSP Brian Whittle is pushing for the Scottish Government to take seriously the need for the A77 to be upgraded.

Scotland’s Transport Secretary has been called out after he declined an invitation to attend a conference organised by the A77 Action Group.

South Scotland Conservative MSP Brian Whittle has written to the First Minister after hearing that recently appointed Transport Secretary Michael Matheson’s diary is full that day.

“The Scottish Government’s record of investment in the south west’s roads is abysmal, but instead of taking action and engaging with local residents, it looks like the Transport Minister is running scared,” said Mr Whittle.

“The A77 and A75 campaigns have put a lot of work into this event and they deserve to have someone from Scottish Government there. That’s why I’ve written to Nicola Sturgeon asking her to make sure Michael Matheson or another suitable minister is in attendance.”

Scottish Labour are also putting pressure on the Scottish and UK Governments to prioritise improvements to the A77 and the A75. Leader Richard Leonard met campaigners last week along with Labour Transport spokesperson, South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

The Scottish Labour leader said: “Meeting with the A77 Action Group and the Dual the A75 campaign has made it clear that the two trunk roads are being left behind.”

There has been no further response from the Transport Minister but a Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Since 2016 there has been extensive engagement around transport issues in south west Scotland, including the A77. In August 2016 the Deputy First Minister and the Transport Minister hosted the Dumfries & Galloway Transport Summit. The Transport Minister also met with members of the A77 Action Group in November 2017 providing them with the opportunity to present their proposals. In addition, action group representatives meet regularly with Transport Scotland officials and officials also took part in the recent Ayrshire Transport Summit where the A77 was discussed.

“Work is ongoing on the South West Transport Study, which is being undertaken in collaboration with local authorities. Further details of the engagement plan, which is anticipated to start later this month, will be published on the Transport Scotland website shortly.”

Transport Scotland point out that £35 million has been spent on four road improvement projects along the A77 and a £30 million bypass at Maybole is planned.