South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has highlighted the ‘failure’ of the Scottish Government to extend the National Cycle Route to Cairnryan.
At present the route runs from Stranraer but suddenly stops more than a mile from Cairnryan, forcing cyclists to use the busy A77 trunk road. The ‘missing link’ in cycling infrastructure was supposed to be completed as part of a planned A77 Trunk Road Improvement Scheme between Drummuckloch and Innermessan. However, a Transport Scotland review in 2012 led to the scheme being ditched and excluded from the Scottish Government’s Motorway And Trunk Road Programme published in July 2013 and a decade later the Scottish Government have still failed to bring forward any proposals.
Speaking in a debate in the Scottish Parliament on active travel last week, the local MSP said it is yet another example of national government’s failure to invest in the south west.
Colin Smyth said in parliament: “Today of all days, with the devastating news about ferry job losses at Cairnryan as a result of the shameful decision by P&O Ferries, we are again drawn to the lack of investment in infrastructure in the south-west.
“That includes active travel. For someone who arrives at Cairnryan by ferry with their cycle, their route to the nearest town, Stranraer, is along the A77 trunk road, together with 40-tonne lorries coming off the ferry.
“The utter failure of the Government to extend the national cycle route to Scotland’s largest ferry terminal presents a danger for people who want to cycle when they arrive in Scotland. Welcome to active travel Scotland.
“If Patrick Harvie wants to discuss a lack of leadership, he need look no further than that example and his own Government’s transport agency, Transport Scotland, which has shown no leadership in tackling that problem.
“If the Government believes, as its motion says, that public transport should be a priority, as well as active travel, Mr Harvie will hopefully agree, in his closing comments, with my colleague Neil Bibby and will say that he now opposes the cuts to train services, the cuts to ticket offices, the massive hike in rail fares and the dismantling of our bus routes that we are seeing right across Scotland.
“Let us all get behind the need to grow our investment in active travel to at least 10 per cent of the transport budget, but let us also unite behind ending the cuts to local councils, ending the cuts to rail and bus services and ensuring that we have an equitable share of infrastructure investment in active travel for every community, including the most deprived and rural communities.”
Speaking after the debate, Colin Smyth added: “Once again we see an example of a lack of investment in the south west, we really are the forgotten region of Scotland where national governments are concerned. It is simply not good enough and I will continue to fight for decent investment in infrastructure in our region.”