MSPs debate state of Rest And Be Thankful

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The state of the A83 over Rest And Be Thankful is scheduled for debate in the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday October 6).

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron called for a parliamentary debate on the next steps for the A83 Rest and Be Thankful and the plans to deliver a permanent, long-term solution to the ongoing debacle. It needed to secure the signatures of MSPs from at least three political parties represented in the Scottish Parliament – which it achieved in spades.

The Conservative MSP said: ‘I welcome the progress that has been made in terms of identifying a new route into Argyll and Bute to replace the existing A83 Rest and Be Thankful pass, but it is clear that the timescales to deliver the new route do not meet the urgency that is expected by local residents and businesses, who are at their wits’ end.

‘There is clear consensus for Transport Scotland to act with greater urgency, and I feel it is right that MSPs from all parties have the opportunity to discuss this issue given its immense importance to the people of Argyll and Bute.’

The stretch of road, a key access route between Glasgow and Argyll, has been subject to regular closures caused by landslides, costing over £80 million in mitigation measures over the last decade. Yet deluges continue to trigger debris flows that shut the pass, most recently in July this year.

The push for a Holyrood debate followed calls from the A83 Rest and Be Thankful Campaign group, who represent 1,500 businesses across Argyll and Bute, for Transport Scotland to speed up its plans to deliver the new road which is earmarked to replace the existing pass.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: ‘We are asking for the Scottish Government to recognise the Rest And Be Thankful as an emergency, cut through the business-as-usual approach and deliver a change that will not only improve lives and livelihoods, but also reduce the carbon footprint of what is also considered a climate emergency. We need the Scottish Government and parliament to deliver on their pre-election promises of a rapid solution for the Rest And Be Thankful.’

Speaking after September’s A83 Task Force meeting, Argyll and Bute councillor Alan Reid said it ‘was very disappointing. Progress towards a permanent solution to the problems at the Rest & Thankful is moving at a snail’s pace. We were told it could be 2023 before the SNP even announce their preferred route. The SNP still don’t realise the urgency of finding a solution. It’s high time they did.’

Motion – A83 Rest and Be Thankful

That the Parliament recognises what it sees as the ongoing frustration felt by communities and businesses across Argyll and Bute as a result of the reported continued problems on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful pass; acknowledges the establishment of the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign group, representing 1,500 businesses across Argyll and Bute; notes the group’s calls for a more robust, long-term solution to the existing road, and for faster action to be taken to deliver it; understands that, following public consultation, Transport Scotland has identified a new route to replace the existing A83 Rest and Be Thankful pass; considers that the timescale set out to achieve this does not meet the urgent needs of communities and businesses across Argyll and Bute; notes the view that Transport Scotland should explore the potential use of the nearby forestry road as a temporary mitigation route, and further notes the calls on the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to work with MSPs from all parties, the Rest and Be Thankful Campaign and other local stakeholders to achieve a suitable outcome.

The debate is supported by: Jackie Baillie, Miles Briggs, Ariane Burgess, Alexander Burnett, Jackson Carlaw, Finlay Carson, Sharon Dowey, Russell Findlay, Murdo Fraser, Meghan Gallacher, Pam Gosal, Rhoda Grant, Jamie Greene, Jamie Halcro Johnston, Rachael Hamilton, Craig Hoy, Dean Lockhart, Douglas Lumsden, Jenni Minto, Edward Mountain, Emma Roddick, Douglas Ross, Graham Simpson, Alexander Stewart, Paul Sweeney, Sue Webber, Annie Wells, Brian Whittle.