Since the responsibility for winter maintenance on our trunk roads was removed from local authority control, the performance of these organisations has been less than impressive. The last two winters have revealed the inadequacies of their ability to keep the trunk roads and motorways open. Do they never learn by their mistakes?
With the ever-increasing joint working between local authorities, maybe now is the time to return the responsibility for our motorways and trunk roads maintenance to these bodies. At least, then, people would know who was responsible and hold them to account if they failed to provide an acceptable service.
If the Scottish Government is really intent on reducing costs, then here is one area where they could start. Transport Scotland has an operating budget of 1,672 million while BEAR Scotland lives off the back of all the taxpayers, national and local.
It would appear that BEAR Scotland just doesn't have the equipment to deal with any amount of snow and ice while Transport Scotland passes the buck and allows the transport minister to take the fall for its own failures.
Early in his period of office as transport minister, Stewart Stevenson accepted my invitation to address a public meeting in Lochgilphead. This was on the regular closures on the A83 on the Rest and Be Thankful due to landslips. These were devastating local business. He only travelled by car when he was convinced it was impossible to travel to Lochgilphead and back to Edinburgh in one day by bus after holding a public meeting.
The question of the one-way system on the A82 at Inverarnan on Loch Lomond side was also raised at that meeting. The "temporary" traffic light arrangements there had been in place for 35 years. Stewart has long since remediated both of these matters.
He inherited a road structure in Argyll which is essentially that put in place by General Wade after the Jacobite risings of the 18th century and was starting to make a real difference. The fact that he has been hounded from office by a political lynch mob is a matter of profound regret.
Surely Stevenson's main failure was to allow Scotland's railways to be paralysed for two weeks.Despite the best efforts of ScotRail staff, they did not have track to run on as NetworkRail had closed off hundreds of junction points from Dunbar in the east to the West Highland and Far North lines.
There seems to have been no pressure put on Network Rail, by the transport minister, to keep the whole Scottish network open especially when the roads were in such a mess
COLIN C MACLEAN