A WAR of words has broken out between councillors on a key road in Argyll and Bute after a taskforce meeting was cancelled.

The Conservatives’ Alastair Redman (Kintyre and the Islands) claimed that repairs on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful road, which runs from Tarbet to Campbeltown, would be complete by now if they linked two urban areas.

But SNP councillor Iain S Paterson (Lomond North) rubbished criticism of the SNP government, highlighting its investment in the road.

A planned A83 taskforce meeting on Wednesday, March 27 was shelved due to transport secretary Michael Matheson having urgent committee business.

READ MORE: Council pushes for action over Rest and Be Thankful repairs

Councillor Redman said of the cancellation, which was announced two days before the meeting was due to take place: “This raises some serious questions given the level of priority Mr Matheson said he was giving the A83 late last year.

“It seems that Mr Matheson and the Scottish Government he represents talks the talk without walking the walk.

“This is yet another example of how little this central belt urban-obsessed SNP cares about rural Argyll.

“Time and time again this Government has left our trunk road network underfunded and have not shown any real leadership over this matter.

“I’m in full support of the ongoing campaign to find a long-term solution to the problems with the A83.

“This means the Scottish Government taking responsibility and investing large scale funding to our trunk road network here in Argyll – not just piecemeal patchwork.

“The SNP have in the past tried to pass on the blame for their own failing on ferries, police, NHS, education and our economy to the UK government and no doubt they will try the same with the A83. But the people of Argyll are fed up with their excuses.

“The fact remains that if this was a trunk road linking two of Scotland’s urban centres it would already be fixed. This continued sidelining and indifference to the needs of rural Argyll must stop.”

The A83 has been plagued by closures due to landslips near the Rest and Be Thankful for many years, most recently in October when it was closed for nine days.

READ MORE: A83 reopens at Rest and Be Thankful after landslip works

But Councillor Paterson said: “It is important that we have good access links within Argyll and Bute and the A83 is a major arterial road that needs improving.

“I am sure our transport minister will convey that message at the next transport meeting in June.

“I, unlike Councillor Redman, try to look at the issue objectively. I take it when he alludes to the problems on the A83 he is referring to the ongoing work on the A83 Rest and be Thankful.

“That has kept the road open since 2014, apart from October 9-18 last year, due to adverse weather conditions, and all the mitigation measures not being complete. That, I would contend, is a good batting average.

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving the transport links and I am glad Councillor Redman recognises that fact when he states that ‘If this had been a trunk road between two major urban centres in Scotland the SNP would have been already fixed it.’

“The Scottish government have committed £1.4billion to improving the roads network in Scotland.

“It is unfair for Councillor Redman to say that the Scottish Government have not invested in the A83, with over £12millon having been spent so far on the Rest and Be Thankful.”