Danny Alexander urges SNP A9 speed camera reversal

Scotland's A9 is a 'notorious' stretch of road. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Scotland's A9 is a 'notorious' stretch of road. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Highland MP Danny Alexander, the most senior Scot in the UK Government, has called on the SNP to reverse their plans for average-speed cameras along the notorious A9.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Westminster claims he has not been provided with clear evident the the controversial project would cut deaths on the road.

How average speed cameras may look. Picture: Complimentary

How average speed cameras may look. Picture: Complimentary

He said the £2.5million scheme to put 100 cameras along a 136-miles stretch of the road would be a waste of money and called for it to be spent on dualling instead.

He said: “The SNP should reverse these plans before it’s too late.

“The vast majority of motorists have made their feelings clear. Average Speed Cameras will do nothing to relieve frustration, so they will not help stop the most common cause of accidents on the road.

“The money would be better spent on dualling the A9.”

He dubbed the First Minister “Average speed Alex” and said the SNP government should change their mind before it’s too late.

Mr Alexander added: “It is good news that they have finally backed the campaign to raise speed limits for HGVs to 50mph, but now they should be turning their focus toward the long-delayed dualling of the A9.

“The Highlands have waited for seven long years of SNP government for any work to start - average speed cameras are a dangerous distraction from that core objective.”

SNP ministers insist the cameras will reduce the number of accidents and help cut the death toll.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The evidence shows that average speed cameras help cut the number of accidents, particularly those resulting in death and serious injury.”

“This Scottish Government is the first administration to commit to dual the entire length of the A9 from Perth to Inverness - some 80 miles of new dualled road.

“The project will be carried out as quickly as possible, with construction due to begin as early as 2015-16.”

He added: “We have been in touch with Mr Alexander’s office on several occasions to arrange a suitable time to discuss these issues.”

Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, dismissed Mr Alexander’s calls to scrap the proposed A9 average speed cameras as “usual breath-taking hypocrisy”.

He said: “When the Lib-Dems were in power with Labour in the Scottish Parliament from 1999-2007 what did they do about dualling the A9 from Perth to Inverness? Nothing. What they did do was introduce the hugely unpopular triple lane sections.

“And that was pre-recession when the Scottish Capital budget had much more capacity to do major infrastructure projects. Our Capital budget now has seen swingeing cuts over the past few years implemented by whom? Danny Alexander and his Tory cronies.

“Despite these cuts plans are well advanced to make good on the dualling promise that this Government has made and the first sections in this plan will start next year.

“Everyone knows major Capital Projects cannot be conjured up quickly if only because of planning requirements, public consultations, and public inquiries to avoid the potential for legal action.

“Transport Scotland and the A9 partnership of transport professionals and users presented compelling evidence to MSP’s in the Scottish Parliament on the safety merits of average speed cameras on the A9.

“Danny could have attended that meeting but he was presumably too busy cutting budgets in London.

“Last year when the police implemented a crack down on the A9 they caught hundreds of drivers speeding. Can anyone tell me if that is stopped that safety and lives will not be saved? Even one life saved makes the case.

“The Scottish Government listened to the users about the speed of HGV’s and have acted to address these concerns with a 50MPH pilot to coincide with the camera introduction.”

Campaigners fighting plans to install the cameras are due to take their case to the Scottish Parliament next week.

The A9 Average Speed Cameras Are Not the Answer campaign’s online petition, which attracted thousands of signatures, is due to be considered by Holyrood’s public petitions committee on January 28.

Campaigners are concerned the cameras will increase frustration and the number of accidents on the road, but Transport Minister Keith Brown has previously claimed they have “already proven their worth” on the A77 Glasgow-Stranraer route and elsewhere in the UK.

He believes the scheme will pay for itself through money saved in accident reductions within the first year of operation.

Last month, lorry drivers won a concession from the Scottish Government to operate a pilot project increasing the speed limits for HGVs to 50mph on the single-carriage way stretches of the road.

They feared that if the 40mph legal limit was enforced by speed cameras it would cause tailbacks and lead to more dangerous overtaking manoeuvres by frustrated motorists.

The Scottish Government has committed to dualling the A9 between Inverness and Perth by 2025, at an estimated cost of £3billion.

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