THIS week's councillor column comes from Cllr David Kinniburgh, Conservative representative for Helensburgh and Lomond South.

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RECENTLY for my mother in-law’s birthday my wife and I took her for a day trip on one of the most scenic drives in Argyll from Helensburgh to Campbeltown.

The scenery driving down the Kintyre peninsula is stunning, but closer to home the Rest and Be Thankful is an area that attracts tourists and is admired by locals for its outstanding beauty.

However, in recent years this vital route into Argyll has been forced to close far too often due to landslides causing major disruption to many communities and businesses which rely on tourism and the transportation of goods in and out of Argyll.

Each closure initially results in a detour of around 60 miles to allow time to prepare the Old Military Road (OMR) to be brought into use under a convoy system and in the latest incident, which was by far the worst to date, to clear it of debris from the landslide.

READ MORE: A83 landslides: Safety review due after latest landslip

It was while sitting in the convoy queue at the OMR that my mother-in-law, originally from Arrochar, commented that landslides on the Rest and Be Thankful were nothing new. She remembered one particular landslide in around 1950 where she had travelled by bus to the Cowal Highland Games and couldn’t get home until the following day, and how her uncle and father, who were travelling later, had been caught in the landslide, resulting in damage to their car.

Of course, in recent years landslips have been much more frequent and it is high time a permanent solution is found, rather than the ‘sticking plaster’ approach taken up to now by the Scottish Government of creating catch pits.

A recent meeting of the A83 Task Force heard the transport minister, Michael Matheson MSP, say that 11 options for a permanent solution would be considered by stakeholders, with a recommendation for the preferred solution being announced in the spring of 2021.

While I am unaware of the detail of all the options, I believe a bridge style structure or similar, roughly following the OMR through Glen Croe, would retain the natural beauty of the environment.

However, going into an election next May, one wonders just how serious Mr Matheson’s commitment to providing a permanent solution actually is - given that the idea has effectively been dismissed by him up to now, with even more funding committed to the ineffective current solution of creating catch pits and planting trees.

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