Demand for public inquiry into Rest and Be Thankful delays

Campaigners are calling for a full public inquiry to determine why the landslide-stricken Rest and Be Thankful road is still not fixed.

Work on mitigation measures earlier this year on the A83 Rest And Be Thankful.

After a decade of discontent another winter of disruptions is looming on the A83 lifelineroute to Argyll, with the latest road closure happening when heavy rain was forecast last week.

Now Argyll councillors Donald Kelly and Douglas Philand are leading the call for an inquiry, claiming the only winners of repeated mitigation measures have been costly consultants and contractors.

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The men petitioned the Scottish Parliament on the urgent need for a permanent solution in 2012, but repeated road closures continue to hit the fragile Argyll economy.

Councillor Kelly said: "The current cost of the mitigation measures is in the region of £90million and rising, hence our call for a public inquiry into the management and cost of this fiasco.

"Around £90million to £100million has been wasted so far, how much will it be in seven to ten years' time, while we hopefully wait for a permanent solution - or not - to be delivered?"

He added: "We have therefore decided to submit another petition to the Scottish Parliament asking for a full public inquiry into the Rest and Be Thankful scenario."

The A83 task force was formed after the councillors submitted their 2012 petition to the parliament. It was signed by 10,000 people and was supported by over 400 businesses from Argyll and Bute and beyond.

Councillor Kelly said: "At a meeting of the task force in 2013, six options for a permanent solution were put on the table by the consultants, Jacobs, including the 2020 preferred option, but all were dismissed out of hand by the Scottish Government.

"The government decided to go ahead with what they called mitigation measures. The original proposal was to spend in the region of £2-£3million in the hope that this would solve the problems at the Rest but we all know this was just the start of the sticking plaster exercise."

He said that since then the public purse has paid for a constant string of borrow pits, fencing anddrainage, with the costs escalating year after year.

Councillor Kelly added: "In 2012 the now proposed preferred option, which was in the original proposals, was costed in the region of £68million.

"We have now been told at the last task force meeting it will be at least seven years before any permanent solution will be put in place .

"My opinion is that if the money is required for the central belt that is where it will go. I think they are continuing to dig these borrow pits in the hope that eventually the disruption will ease and our permanent solution will be kicked into the long grass.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said:"The resilience of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful is one of our top priorities.

"Local residents and road users can be assured that the situation is being treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves, with measures to maintain connectivity on a short, medium and long term basis all being pursued.

"Identifying the preferred route corridor for a resilient long term solution earlier this year, was a major step forward for this vital work and we are looking at alternative options within that online corridor.

"We appreciate the timescale to develop an alternative route as a long-term solution is frustrating for the local community, but we will look to bring forward the programme where we can."

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