Trans­port min­is­ter vis­its Ar­gyll

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

TRANS­PORT min­is­ter Humza Yousaf is open to ‘rea­son­able ar­gu­ments’ to im­prove Oban’s roads, he said dur­ing a fact-find­ing trip to the In­ner He­brides this week, writes Sandy Neil.

Mr Yousaf, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s min­is­ter for trans­port and the is­lands, was on his first visit to Is­lay, Ker­rera, Lu­ing and Seil – af­ter be­ing moved into the role fol­low­ing a Cab­i­net reshuf­fle in May – to hear about the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties of is­land life.

Ker­rera ferry’s new £1.7mil­lion break­wa­ter and slip­way ex­ten­sion, which were sched­uled to be com­pleted by the end of June, will ‘ bring real ben­e­fits to the Ker­rera com­mu­nity,’ Mr Yousaf said, ‘im­prov­ing ferry re­silience by less­en­ing the im­pact of tidal and poor weather con­di­tions.’

In Oc­to­ber last year a new ferry pric­ing sys­tem, the Road Equiv­a­lent Tar­iff (RET), slashed the cost of travel to Mull, with a re­sul­tant surge in traf­fic.

‘The whole point of RET was to in­crease traf­fic,’ said Mr Yousaf. ‘ We want peo­ple to visit the is­lands, but with ev­ery pos­i­tive there’s a chal­lenge.’

He said ferry ca­pac­ity for is­land pas­sen­gers can be lim­ited as a re­sult, but this would be ad­dressed in CalMac’s con­tract dis­cus­sions, adding: ‘These are prob­lems I’d rather be hav­ing.’

Asked whether there was any cash avail­able to im­prove road in­fras­truc­ture to and from Oban given the in­crease in traf­fic, the trans­port min­is­ter said: ‘ We are al­ready spend­ing a heck of a lot.’

Since 2007, more than £ 35 mil­lion has been spent main­tain­ing the A85 main route into Oban, a Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman later clar­i­fied.

Mr Yousaf said any ma­jor im­prove­ments would be dis­cussed within the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Strate­gic Trans­port Projects Re­view, which sets out its trans­port in­vest­ment pri­or­i­ties from 2008 un­til 2032.

‘Ev­ery sin­gle lo­cal au­thor­ity area asks for in­vest­ment. The bud­get is lim­ited, but I’m open to rea­son­able ar­gu­ments,’ he said.

Af­ter vis­it­ing Is­lay Mu­seum and Lu­ing’s At­lantic Is­lands Cen­tre, Mr Yousaf trav­elled to Oban’s North­ern Light­house Board, the A83 and the Rest and Be Thank­ful.

Next month he trav­els to the Western Isles to con­tinue his en­gage­ment with is­land com­mu­ni­ties, to ‘help de­velop and in­form fu­ture leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als’.

Humza Yousaf said he is ‘open to rea­son­able ar­gu­ments’ on ex­tra roads fund­ing for Ar­gyll.

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