Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has used a debate in the Scottish Parliament to once again raise issues around the neglect of transport infrastructure in the south west of Scotland.

Speaking in a debate in the chamber last week, the local MSP said the lack of action from the Scottish Government is having a serious impact on the local economy.

Colin Smyth said: “It is impossible to understate the growing anger that there is about, frankly, the Government’s utter contempt towards improving transport infrastructure in the south-west, and the resultant neglect for the local economy.

“That neglect is now enshrined as the Government’s policy for the next two decades as a result of a wholly inadequate strategic transport review.

“Even after years of delay in delivering that review, the vague, minor commitments to realign the A75 around Springholm and Crocketford and to improve the A77 from Turnberry to Girvan and Ballantrae to Smyrton come with no detail of exactly what those plans are, or even when they will happen.

“In fact, it is not even clear whether those are firm commitments, given that the report says that those are simply examples of possible improvements.

“However, we know that those commitments will not lead to the meaningful improvement in journey times that we all want to see, especially if the Government is as short-sighted as it was when it developed the Maybole bypass and failed to dual parts of it in order to provide adequate passing places.

“Bypassing Crocketford and Springholm will be a positive step for the communities that badly need that investment.

“However, by the time the roundabouts are built and the road is rerouted around those villages, it will make no difference to the time that it takes to travel the 100 miles from Gretna to Cairnryan, and it will make no difference to the safety on the vast majority of the road.”

He continued: “The SNP-Green Government has argued that building new roads increases traffic and that it takes people away from using other more environmentally friendly forms of transport.

“However, there is no railway to use between Gretna and Stranraer, and the Government has ruled that out as part of the strategic transport projects review.

“Even the Green Party, which claims to want new railways, failed to support the reopening of that line in the long list of “rail for all” policy commitments that it has made.

“It is no wonder that the south-west continues to have the lowest wages, the lowest level of business-led inclusive jobs growth and the lowest gross value added figure in Scotland. When Stena invested more than £80 million in its new terminal in 2011, this Government promised it investment in the three Rs: rail, regeneration and roads.

“We have seen cuts in what rail services there were between Glasgow and Stranraer. There has been no investment in the regeneration of Stranraer and no meaningful investment in improving the A75 and A77. That is not a case of the three Rs, but of the three Fs: fail, fail, fail.”

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