Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant, has strived for many years to persuade the local Authority and the Government to expedite improvements to either the existing Stromeferry Bypass or to build another road. Her driver was always to make the route safer for all road users, particularly the children who travel the route twice a day from and to Lochcarron and the surrounding area. However, after meeting face to face with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson she was left feeling very disappointed.
Rhoda said ” I asked for this meeting at the end of last year, as the whole issue of the Stromeferry bypass keeps getting kicked into the long grass and it is an issue that has gone on now for nearly forty years. I doubt very much whether there would be this dragging of feet if the route passed a more urban area down in the central belt.
” The fact of the matter is a simple one to understand. Highland Council have responsibility for this route currently, as it is part of the massive 7000km of road that they have to look after. The Council like all others in Scotland have had to face making drastic cuts thanks to the cuts in funding received from the Government after their budget pact with their bedfellows the Greens. Highland Council cannot afford the funding for the options proposed to address the Stromeferry bypass problem, which amount to somewhere between £70 million and £120million. So they and indeed I, have for some time been asking for Government assistance. I have suggested on more than one occasion that the Government should take over responsibility for this road given it is the gateway to Southwest Ross and the Uists. Highland Council for their part have asked for extra funding because of the geographic nature of the vast area of roads and infrastructure that they have to cover.
” The Government have consistently knocked back all proposals and suggestions.
” Yesterday, I met with Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and to be frank, I was less than impressed. Put simply, the Cabinet Secretary has absolutely no intention of the Government or Transport Scotland adopting this route as a trunk road and I got the distinct impression that he was washing his hands of any responsibility stating repeatedly to me that this was an issue for Highland Council and they had to deal with it, despite me emphasising that lives were at risk.
Rhoda Grant concluded “This whole matter is frustrating. Those in authority keep passing the buck and all the time the people who use this route have to do so knowing it is not safe. What will happen before action to be taken and how long will this issue be allowed to drag on.