Back from Ullapool to find Danny Alexander MP in a strop at this week’s Transport Conference in Aviemore over Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP’s supposed SNP focus on Central Belt projects and neglect of the A9 that takes wur Danny home after a long, hard day at the Treasury.
Now, far be it from me to see ulterior political motives in this, but wasn’t it the Lib-Dems who pushed the Edinburgh Trams project ever onwards in the teeth of fierce SNP opposition from the start? And was it not Lib-Dem squeals that echoed their former Labour Executive colleagues over SNP scrapping of GARL and EARL, both Central Belt projects of scant interest in the Highlands?
Having just yesterday traversed the A9 from Dingwall to Perth myself, the benefits of some £20m in recent investments, including new dualling south of Newtonmore, are obvious. Compared to the stuttering investment ten years ago when even the lethal A827 crossover at Ballinluig was yet to be addressed by the then-(to be fair, Labour) Transport Minister, the A9’s in much better nick and getting its share of investment.
In fact, the general state of roads in the Highlands is looking up. Having traversed Skye, the little-travelled A863 to Dunvegan was in good nick and the A860 onwards to Portree now a broad two-lane. Even single-track sections on either side of the Glenelg Ferry have—despite being in competition with the now-toll-free Skye bridge—a good surface and adequate passing places. Best of all, the A835 Dingwall-Ullapool artery, upon which the Western Isles depends for its main ferry link, is as fast and good a road as you could expect to weave through the stunning scenery that is Wester Ross; it gets you to Inverness with no white knuckles in barely an hour.
Perhaps the busy life he now leads doesn’t allow wur Danny the time to travel about and see the improvements being made across his country; it’s a far cry to Lochawe, let alone Loch Broom when affairs of state keep him in Lunnainn. And, if he does feel that I have made no strong case and persist in moaning unjustifiably, then he only need instruct his officials to prepare a law that allows the Scottish Parliament to issue bonds and borrow capital—just like all the other real Parliaments, including the one Danny works for, are able to.
Or is he feart to go down that road?