JAMIE HALCRO JOHNSTON: 'No more excuses. No more delays. Get the A9 dualled'
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I was relieved that, driving up the A9 this week, there was only a slight delay at the gas works at Dunkeld – certainly not the three hours stuck in traffic that many of us have had to endure over the last few weeks.
But while that was a small mercy, there were no signs of any new progress on dualling, and the road I’ve been using all my life to get home to Orkney - and which I started a campaign to be dualled in 2006 – remains a largely forgotten SNP project.
While there has been some positive news of the Tomatin to Moy section, the promised “autumn update” on a new timescale has been missed – as if we’re not already used enough to missed SNP A9 deadlines – and the Scottish Government seem to have gone largely silent on the scheme.
And this is after a week when a Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservatives revealed that, of the £3 billion estimated cost for dualling between Inverness and Perth, only £431 million was actually spent between 2012 and 2022.
And of that £431 million, £300 million has been spent on sections where dualling work has yet to begin.
So only around 15% of the expected costs (even at 2008 prices) has actually been spent, and the vast majority of that has been spent on sections which remain undualled.
For all their desperate excuses, this just shows the clear lack of progress on the road, and lays bare the shocking lack of accountability and mismanagement by the SNP and Transport Scotland.
And this was a project which the SNP knew in December of last year wasn’t going to be completed on time but kept pretending it would be, before eventually having to come clean.
These figures – and the lack of work on the ground – show just how behind the project is. So as we await the delayed update on a this delayed scheme, I hope SNP ministers will learn the lessons of their failure so far.
We don’t want just more un-meetable targets. Or false promises. We need to see a clear and costed plan on when the A9 will – finally - be fully dualled between Inverness and Perth, as was promised all those years ago.
No more excuses. No more delays. Get the A9 dualled.
The SNP’s Dodgy Data Dilemma
The Michael Matheson affair seems to have split public opinion – some think he should have resigned, others that Humza Yousaf should have sacked him. Only Matheson, Yousaf and a handful of nationalist diehards think the beleaguered Health Secretary should keep his job.
And while the whole affair might seem less important with everything else that’s going on it the world, what we now know is that Matheson lied over the nature of an £11k data bill he was happy – until the public backlash - for the taxpayer to pick up.
If Matheson doesn’t resign – and Humza Yousaf remains too weak to sack him - the Scottish Conservatives will bring forward a Vote of No Confidence, and MSPs from all parties – including SNP and Green MSPs in the Highlands - will have to decide whether a minister who lies should keep their job.