Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has reiterated his call for the UK and Scottish Governments to work together to deliver badly needed improvements to cross border transport links, following the publication of the ‘Union Connectivity Review’.

Sir Peter Hendy’s report published today (26 November) calls for improvements to the west coast main rail line to increase capacity and cut journey times between Scotland and England urges the UK Government to “offer funding” to upgrade the A75, calls on the Scottish Government to improve the A77 and for the UK and Scottish governments to assess road and rail links from north-east England to south-east Scotland, including improving the east coast main rail line and the A1 trunk road.

Commenting on the report Colin Smyth said “The report is a bit of a damp squib and states the bleeding obvious when it comes to the need for improvements to key transport links which many of us have been highlighting for years”.

“It’s noticeable that Boris’ binned bridge plan has been airbrushed out of history and Sir Peter was too embarrassed to even mention it in his report, recognising that the key to better connectivity between Scotland and Northern Ireland lies in improvements to the A75 and A77. However there is no actual new money for the A75, details of where specifically these improvements should be made and the A77 is missed out altogether in any call for support from the UK Government. Overall it’s pretty amateur uninspiring stuff”.

“We didn’t really need a new report to tell us that there is currently no plan to deliver meaningful improvements to the east coast main rail line and the A1 and this needs to happen”.

“The Scottish Government’s failure to even engage in the review shows their contempt for border communities. Both the Welsh and Northern Irish administrations fed into the process while making it clear who had ultimate responsibility for devolved areas and that was a far more grown up approach than their Scottish Government counterparts. The Scottish Government just don’t seem interested in cross border issues”.

“The reason the review was able to so easily highlight many examples of infrastructure in the area that needs improvements was because so much has been neglected by the Scottish Government. There would have been no need for this review had they been doing their job properly and investing in better road and rail links in border communities”.

“The constituents I represent in South Scotland don’t care who proposes the improvements or pays for them, they just want them to happen. They are sick and tired of being forgotten about by both the UK and Scottish Governments. It’s time for both Governments to stop the bickering and start delivering by working together on these badly needed upgrades. There is already precedent in two Governments coming together to support projects through the growth deals such as the Borderlands and Ayrshire deals. They should use that process and get it on with job.”

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