South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the Scottish Government needs to change the criteria it uses to assess potential road improvements if upgrades to the A75 are to be secured.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament last week, the local MSP revealed that in 2009 an assessment had been made by local transport agency SWESTRANS of options to improve links between Dumfries and Lockerbie including a new direct road and the dualing of the A75 from Dumfries to Gretna.
However, both options had been ruled not be cost effective under the Scottish Government’s STAG assessment process as not being “cost effective.
Colin Smyth raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament and challenged Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to review the criteria. He said, “The minister will be aware that when in 2009 the local transport agency, the south west of Scotland transport partnership, undertook an appraisal, under the Scottish transport appraisal guidance, of possible road improvements in Dumfries and Galloway, the option of dualling the A75 between Gretna and Dumfries was assessed but was deemed, at that time, not to be cost effective under the assessment criteria. Does the minister recognise the need to review those criteria to ensure that the significant economic benefits to Dumfries and Galloway of dualling the A75 are properly recognised?”
In reply Humza Yousaf said, “I do not think that it is necessary to review the criteria, although I am more than happy to listen to Colin Smyth’s suggestions in that respect. As he will understand, there are competing priorities across the country. Wherever I travel, there are people who—understandably—want improvements in their local area and constituencies, and we are always looking to be as accommodating as possible. However, all that must be seen within the financial constraints that we are under. If the member has specific suggestions that he would like me to look at again with regard to the STPR refresh, I am open minded.
Speaking after question time Colin Smyth added, “I am pleased the Minister is aty least prepared to listen to suggestion to improve the criteria used to decide which road projects receive funding. Until we do that we will lose out in Dumfries and Galloway because the volume of traffic is less than some roads in the central belt. The assessment process needs to better take into the fact that the economy in Dumfries and Galloway is well behind the rest of Scotland and improvements to infrastructure are needed to change that”
The full exchange between Colin Smyth and the Transport Minister can be read here: