COUNCILLOR George Freeman addresses the recent A83 road closure at the Rest and Be Thankful and criticises the Scottish Government for failing the residents of Argyll...


ALONG with many other road users, I have continued to face ongoing disruption over recent years due to the landslips on the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful.

Apart from the road closures caused by the landslips, drivers have had to face ongoing delays due to the “temporary” traffic lights at the Rest which have virtually become a permanent feature.

The Scottish Government commissioned the Jacobs Report more than five years ago that offered a number of options for addressing these problems. Unfortunately, the Scottish Government went for what appeared to be the cheapest option at that time. As a result, drivers have continued to face ongoing road closures.

There is certainly no criticism of those at the coal face who have had to work in at times atrocious conditions on the ongoing mitigation measures and doing their best to keep the road – a vital link between Argyll and the rest of Scotland – open.

Any criticism has to be of the Scottish Government who have continued to fail the residents of Argyll on this ongoing problem.

As a result of the recent landslip that again closed the A83, a meeting of the A83 Task Force was called on November 15 which was convened by Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.

At that meeting, it was made clear by most of those attending that a permanent solution to this ongoing problem had to be found. The Cabinet Secretary agreed that he would review the options in the Jacobs Report, and report back to the task force early next year.

There is no doubt in the minds of most of those who are politically neutral that the Scottish Government has failed to take this matter seriously and have let down the residents of Argyll. If this problem had arisen in the central belt, then there is no doubt that action would have been taken years ago.

Many of the people that I speak to are now of the view that as far as the Scottish Government is concerned, with our rural areas, it is a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.

We only have to look at the issue of ferries with Dunoon being let down, transfer of the Kilcreggan-Gourock ferry service contract from SPT to Transport Scotland delayed, and the timescales for new Caledonian MacBrayne ferries currently under construction now out of the window.

It certainly appears that our rural communities are an afterthought when it comes to the Scottish Government.