Tory MSP claimes the SNP are ‘out of touch’ with communities over A96 dualling
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The SNP have been accused of “insulting” and being “out of touch” with communities over the A96 dualling after an MSP claimed Covid and contractors not wanting the job were to blame for more than a decade of project delays.
On BBC’s Debate Night in Elgin, SNP MSP Clare Adamson remarks drew astonishment from host Stephen Jardine and the rest of the panel.
The Motherwell and Wishaw MSP said Covid has “changed the landscape” of who is prepared to do the work.
But contractors behind part of the A96 project, Mott MacDonald Sweco, blamed the impact of the SNP-Green coalition agreement after it closed its Forres Office, saying the deal casted “fresh doubt” over the scheme.
The SNP committed to fully dualling the trunk road between Aberdeen and Inverness more than a decade ago, but plans have been put on hold after the formation of the coalition in 2021.
As part of the power-sharing deal, a review of the project costing an additional £1.8 million was undertaken after the Greens raised “urgent” environmental impact concerns about dualling the A96.
This has now also been delayed after Transport Scotland confirmed 16 options for the Aberdeen-Inverness route are being looked at in the first half of this year, with the results being put out to further public consultation before a final decision can be reached.
Scottish Conservative Highland MSP Edward Mountain, who was on the Debate Night panel, said: “Clare Adamson’s comments were insulating and completely out of touch with north and north-east communities who will rightly be furious by her negligent attitude towards the upgrade.
“It is no surprise she was laughed at for her obscene excuses behind her party’s failure to fulfil their promise which was first made in 2011.
“The SNP could have had a local MSP with informed opinions and beliefs about the importance of this upgrade but instead they chose to send someone who doesn’t have a clue about one of the most important issues to Elgin and the wider area.
“It’s clear for all to see that progress on the A96 is happening at a snail’s pace and the SNP-Green coalition are kicking the can down the road at every possible turn.
“Each week which passes is causing upset to families whose loved ones have tragically died or suffered injuries on the road.
“Rather than playing political games with the safety of motorists, this should be about fully upgrading the A96 as soon as possible and delivering on a pledge which the SNP have failed to deliver.”
When asked about the A96 on the show, Ms Adamson said: “I know this has been challenging for the Scottish Government.
"For the latest round of the procurement process in terms of the A9, it was very difficult to get people to come forward to compete to do some of this work. Part of that is to do with Covid and a change of the landscape of who is actually prepared to bid for these works.
“It will come as no surprise to most people that Covid changed many, many things in our economics and procurement ability in the building industry.
“I’m not from this area so I don’t know the specifics of what is happening with this road but I do know the government is progressing and is trying to go to re-tender for some of the works.”
A tweet of Ms Adamson’s response can be found here