The MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has persuaded the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee to keep the present petition from Argyll First councillors live, pending Transport Scotland bringing forward new proposals to ensure “continuity of access” on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, which will be tabled at the next meeting of the A83 Task Force in June. And he has welcomed the Committee’s decision to hold a hearing about the petition, and to consider doing so in Argyll itself, so that MSPs can see the road and talk to local residents.
Mr Russell attended the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee yesterday (Tuesday 28th April) and spoke in support of the petition, which was scheduled for re-consideration by the committee. He commented on the three responses to the petition which the Committee had received – from Argyll & Bute Council, from the Mid-Argyll Chamber of Commerce and from Transport Scotland – and was pleased when the Committee agreed with his proposal to keep the petition live and to continue to press for a permanent solution to the long term problems on the road.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr Russell said:
“I was surprised by the very downbeat position taken by Dick Walsh in the letter from Argyll & Bute Council, which directly contradicted the view of all local organisations that we should, at all times, stress that Argyll remains fully open for business. However, apart from that, the overwhelming view of everyone involved in this issue is that, whilst the mitigation measures which have been taken over recent years –including the re-opening of the Old Military Road – have been helpful, there must be a solution put in place that guarantees constant continuity of access. I pushed at the last A83 Task Force meeting in January for proposals to be tabled by Transport Scotland to achieve that, and the Transport Minister, Derek McKay, was very helpful in insisting that it should happen.
“Transport Scotland have now confirmed to the committee that their consultants, Jacobs, will bring forward such proposals at the next task force meeting in June and the Petitions Committee therefore unanimously agreed that it would want to remain involved in the matter. In addition, members of the Committee suggested that they should visit the area and hold a meeting to hear from local people, as well as question the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland. I think this is an excellent idea and I will do everything I can to make it happen.
“I commend the work of the Argyll First Councillors in bringing this petition, and am happy to keep supporting it.”