Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has described the continued unreliability of the A83 road at the Rest and Be Thankful as amounting to an emergency and as a threat to the economic recovery of much of Argyll and Bute.
The road, which has become notorious for repeated landslips causing delays and long diversions for motorists, was the subject of a debate called by the Scottish Conservative MSP in the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday 6th October).
In his opening speech Mr Cameron said that the forecast from Transport Scotland that it could take up to ten years to deliver a permanent solution was unacceptable, and demanded that the Scottish Government commit to delivering a new route by the end of the current parliament.
Speaking later he said: “The state of the A83, and the fact that the Scottish Government has for so many years failed to grasp the nettle and deliver a lasting solution, is a standing affront to everyone for whom the road is a lifeline route. For many island communities, the situation is compounded by the chronic unreliability of the ferry service, again woefully neglected by ministers at Holyrood."
“Businesses have taken a hammer blow from the Covid pandemic but how are they to grow back, or indeed survive, without the necessary infrastructure in place? We are, I fear, counting the cost of this neglect in lost jobs and further rural depopulation as young people move away from the area."
“Local people and businesses have come together in the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign Group to make clear how unacceptable they find the situation, and it is now up to their elected representatives, from all parties, to unite and say that ‘enough is enough’ and force ministers to act, whether they like it or not.”
The debate can be accessed here from 17:27:00: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/meeting-of-the-parliament-october-6-2021
The text of Donald Cameron’s motion is provided below:
Asked by: Donald Cameron
That the Parliament recognises what it sees as the ongoing frustration felt by communities and businesses across Argyll and Bute as a result of the reported continued problems on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful pass; acknowledges the establishment of the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign group, representing 1,500 businesses across Argyll and Bute; notes the group's calls for a more robust, long-term solution to the existing road, and for faster action to be taken to deliver it; understands that, following public consultation, Transport Scotland has identified a new route to replace the existing A83 Rest and Be Thankful pass; considers that the timescale set out to achieve this does not meet the urgent needs of communities and businesses across Argyll and Bute; notes the view that Transport Scotland should explore the potential use of the nearby forestry road as a temporary mitigation route, and further notes the calls on the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to work with MSPs from all parties, the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign and other local stakeholders to achieve a suitable outcome.