South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has accused the Scottish Government of showing “contempt” for the south west, following the publication of STPR2.
Phase 2 recommendations of the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 were published on Thursday (January 20), with a Ministerial Statement in the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking in parliament, Colin Smyth said: “It has been a long time coming, but appropriately, when it comes to transport projects, we now have the very late publication of STPR2. Given the Government’s track record on transport, few communities will believe that the vague commitments that have been made in the review will be delivered.
“Given that the Government has cancelled not one but two Glasgow airport rail links in the past 14 years, why should communities believe the cabinet secretary when he says, “Some time in the next 20 years we might build a Glasgow metro. In the meantime, the public can continue to use the train services that we’re cutting, at the ticket offices that we’re axing”?
“After years of being the forgotten region, why should communities in Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire in the south-west believe the cabinet secretary when all they are being offered is vague commitments to possible improvements to the A75 and A77, with no commitments to recognising the strategic importance of Cairnryan to Scotland’s economy?
“On smart ticketing, the review says that the Government will continue the on-going development of fully integrated smart ticketing. I wonder where this on-going development is taking place because I have certainly not seen it. When will communities actually see the detailed timescale for when the projects will be delivered and the budgets for them? When will they be delivered?”
Speaking after the statement, Colin Smyth said: “Prior to this, I’ve always said the south west is the forgotten region of Scotland when it comes to infrastructure improvements, but STRP2 shows the Scottish Government has nothing but contempt for the region.
“STPR2 is full of vague promises and no detail, it is just not good enough.
“The Green-SNP Government has already shelved the idea of dualling the A75 and A77 which was included in an initial list of projects in a January 2020 Government instigated Transport Study for the South West. This is despite having pledged to press ahead with investing £3bn in dualling the A9.
“They claimed it was for environmental reasons but in reality there is nothing environmentally friendly about 40 tonne plus wagons rattling past the front doors of the many villages along the A75 and A77.
“It is a disgrace that even basic improvements to active travel, such as proper cycle route between Cairnryan and Stranraer, have been ditched over the years because the current SNP Government won’t invest in the A77 and A75.
“All local people in our region are asking for is that a fair share of the roads budget, whatever level that budget is, goes on improving the A75 and A77- and that’s what I will continue fighting for.”
The local MSP, who Chairs the Eastriggs Station Action Group campaigning for the re-opening of the station, also hit out at the lack of proposals for improvements to local rail services. Colin Smyth added: “The failure to even mention the re-opening of rail stations such as Beattock, Eastriggs and Thornhill, never mind include a serious look at re-opening the Dumfries to Stranraer railway, shows the utter lack of interest from the Scottish Government in improving the region’s transport links and will simply mean our local economy continues to lag behind much of the rest of the Scotland.”