Argyll and Bute Council has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to identify a permanent solution that will bring an end to disruption on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful, in addition to the current mitigation measures.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, made the commitment at the A83 Taskforce meeting in Inveraray today (Thursday, November 15).
Speaking after the meeting, which was also attended by private sector and community representatives, Argyll and Bute Council Leader, Councillor Aileen Morton, said the frequent closures of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful need to be substantially addressed as a matter of urgency.
Landslides cause the road to be closed for repairs, meaning the adjacent Old Military Road has to be used as an alternative. However, as was the case when the A83 was most recently closed last month, the Old Military Road is not always available – essentially cutting large parts of Argyll and Bute off from the central belt.
Councillor Morton said: “Argyll and Bute is a stunningly beautiful place that attracts tourists from all over the world and the council is working hard to bring in new investment, businesses and residents to the area. Argyll needs safe, reliable roads to ensure routes to market for our businesses and to provide local people with access to essential services, such as hospitals in the central belt.
“This is a vital trunk road that provides access to most of Argyll and that’s why it’s so important that Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government identify and fund the right solution. While the mitigation measures at the Rest and Be Thankful are having an effect, and we are grateful to the BEAR Scotland team who are working in all weathers in very difficult conditions, the events in early October made it clear that a permanent solution also requires to be progressed.”
Depute Leader of the Council, Councillor Gary Mulvaney, added: “This route is hugely significant for Argyll. Considering Argyll’s contribution to the national economy through products such as timber, seafood and whisky, this route is also hugely significant for Scotland. The public reaction to these repeated closures is clearly saying that enough is enough. This has been an issue for far too long and now is the time to take definitive action that works for Argyll and for Scotland.”
At its meeting in October, Argyll and Bute Council agreed unanimously to call upon the Scottish Government to identify and fund a permanent solution at the Rest and Be Thankful. Following this, and after today’s A83 Taskforce meeting, a council delegation comprising the Leader, Councillor Aileen Morton, Depute Leader, Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Leader of the SNP Group, Councillor Sandy Taylor, and Leader of the Argyll First Group, Councillor Dougie Philand, met with Mr Matheson to discuss the future of the A83.