FRUSTRATED councillors have compared the timetable for the proposed Helensburgh to Dumbarton cycle path to the time it took to build the Great Wall of China – and how long it might be before the planned HS2 railway line becomes a reality.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney questioned the need for a ‘place making’ tool to be used in applications for funding by national walking and cycling charity Sustrans.

And Councillor David Kinniburgh also sought assurance that the route of the path will not have to be re-designed again.

The project, which has been ongoing since the early 21st century, was recently predicted to be further delayed until 2027.

The debate on the path took place at Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee meeting on March 19.

READ MORE: Helensburgh-Dumbarton cycle path may not be complete until 2027, report reveals

Colin Young, strategic transportation delivery officer with the council, attended the meeting to give members the latest update.

Councillor Mulvaney said: “When I heard the phrase ‘place making’, I wonder if we are not actually doing a cycle path.

“What it needs is Tarmac, a bit of simple civil engineering, and a little sign saying you are on a cycle way. Where do we get ‘place making’ involved in what is a pavement or cycle path?

“I would be giving Sustrans a good shake, because I don’t understand how that comes into it. No wonder members get frustrated.

“It is another seven or eight years away. The Great Wall of China would be built quicker than this. It is public money and officer time, and I am sure you can appreciate the frustration of members.

“I wonder whether the Scottish Government could take back the whole thing and get rid of Sustrans. The design for one cycle path isn’t the design for many others.”

READ MORE: Councillor pleads for long-running cycle path plan to be scrapped

Councillor Kinniburgh then added: “I would have said we will deliver HS2 quicker.

“It concerns me about the design of this and the timeline we have for it. Are we not in this position because we had to change the design of the path?”

Mr Young then responded: “In terms of the design specifications, we had to redesign the path because the specifications of Sustrans funding changed.

“That said, on the design we are looking to develop and progress, I have had involvement with the standards that are being designed, and would not expect another re-design.

“In terms of Sustrans and place-making, this is a new thing for them this year and officers are trying to get their heads round it as much as we are.

“The officer who looks after Argyll and Bute came into post late in 2019 and is learning the area and active travel.”

READ MORE: Furious response from readers after councillor suggests cycle path plans should be axed

A spokesperson for Sustrans said: “Whilst we encourage partners to use the Place Standard tool to help structure their applications, it is not part of the criteria used by Sustrans in assessing whether or not a project receives funding from our Places for Everyone programme.

“Instead, to make sure all projects receiving funding make the largest possible impact, Sustrans assesses projects against how well they try and meet the following six design principles.

“Ideas have to be developed collaboratively and in partnership with communities.

“Projects have to facilitate independent walking, cycling and wheeling for everyone, including an unaccompanied 12-year-old.

“Places have to be designed to provide enjoyment, comfort and protection. Projects need to ensure access for all and equality of opportunity in public space.

“Proposals have to be developed in a way that is context-specific and evidence-led.

READ MORE: New stumbling block to cycle path plan as public 'now wants a different route'

“Projects have to reallocate road space, and restrict motor traffic permeability to prioritise people walking, cycling and wheeling over private motor vehicles.

“In addition we ask for infrastructure to be designed so that it stays high quality for at least 15 years, and that it can meet all current and future needs.

“Projects must also be subject to equality impact assessments and ecological appraisal.

“This is to ensure that projects which receive funding from our Places for Everyone programme help to create safer, more attractive and healthier places by increasing the number of trips made by walking, cycling and wheeling for everyday journeys.”

Construction of the Great Wall of China began around 2,700 years ago, and the most recent work was completed in 1878.

The UK government estimates that the second phase of HS2, linking London and Birmingham with Leeds and Manchester, will be completed between 2035 and 2040.

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news headlines here