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Highland Council convener delivers blunt message to Transport Secretary Màiri McAllan

By Scott Maclennan

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Councillor Bill Lobban makes his point to the Transport Secretary at the summit. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Councillor Bill Lobban makes his point to the Transport Secretary at the summit. Picture: Callum Mackay.

A leading Highland councillor has said that the people of the region are 'fed up with body bags being dragged off the A9'.

Several prominent people in Highland public life attended the A9 Crisis Summit including the convener of the local authority – Badenoch and Strathspey councillor Bill Lobban who was enraged by what he heard.

He said after the end of the debate: “My community is sick and fed up of seeing body bags being taken off the A9 – the actual cost of this road is not in pounds, shillings, or pence – the actual cost in this road is the number of people who lose their lives, for no reason.

“You should not lose your life on the A9 because you make a mistake and the way to prevent that is by dualling it from Perth to Inverness and beyond.”

Asked what he made of the some of what the officials had to say, Councillor Lobban said: “Not particularly good to be honest. I don’t think I have come away from this with anything concrete that I didn’t know about before.

“So I am not particularly impressed and I am now not convinced that the A9 will be dualled in my lifetime. I didn’t hear anything of substance, at least not from those who were responding to the questions.

“I think I heard a lot of platitudes, ifs, maybes, et cetera. What I heard was this nonsense about Brexit and Covid, we knew by the time that it came to Brexit and Covid the A9 was not going to be dualled by 2025.

“I want to see an exact timescale with a commitment but we have had those before so why should we believe the next line of commitments or do we have to wait until the next election when they need to gather votes in or do we have to wait for the next referendum so there is more votes to be had by dualling the A9?

“I think we deserve an accurate timetable now with no nonsense.”

The summit was organised by Highland News & Media due to the lack of progress since Humza Yousaf became First Minister at the end of March despite his 'cast-iron' assurances that dualling the road was a top priority at leadership hustings held by HNM.

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