Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the UK Government of “empty rhetoric” over improvements to the region’s road and rail links.

An independent report has been published looking at connections between different parts of the UK- but no commitments have been made to invest in any road or rail improvements other than “feasibility studies”.

Sir Peter Hendy’s interim report considers transport connectivity within the UK and the case for future investment.

Despite speculation over a bridge or tunnel between Portpatrick and Larne, the report makes no firm proposals other than to say that in response to “being asked about a fixed link”. Sir Peter has asked two members of the Advisory Panel to carry out a feasibility study into a possible link, as well as feasibility studies into improvements to the A75. However, it makes no recommendations on either – and snubs other important links such as the A77 and A76.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has long been campaigning for the dualling of both the A75 and A77, improvements to the A76 and the region’s rail links.

He said: “Never before has a piece of work from a Government received so much hype, but said so little.

“There are no firm proposals, just more studies and shockingly it totally snubs important links such A77 or A76, never mind the re-opening of rail links.

“This is a damp squib of a report that simply exposes the empty rhetoric of the UK Government when it comes to actually improving road and rail links.

“We don’t need a feasibility study into the A75, we need improvements. There is already a clear list of priority schemes to upgrade the road, and frankly it’s time the UK and Scottish Governments stopped talking, started acting and got on with implementing those schemes.

“It’s also clear from the report that Sir Peter is lukewarm about a tunnel or bridge between Portpatrick and Larne but has no choice but to ask for a feasibility study to satisfy Boris Johnston’s ego.

“No one seriously believes there is the remotest chance of Boris’ burrow ever happening and spending taxpayers money on a study instead of on improving existing roads is nothing short of scandal.

“At a time when our local economy is on its knees, local people want the Scottish and UK Government to stop the bickering and start working together to get on with investing in improving the region’s road and rail links now.”


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