Council urges Scottish Government to “break down the barriers” to transport investment

Dumfries and Galloway Council urged the Scottish Government to break down the barriers to transport investment in Dumfries and Galloway at today’s transport summit held in the region.

The summit heard from Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf who Chaired the event and then Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of the Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee.

Speaking at the event Councillor Smyth stressed the importance to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway of increased investment in local transport including roads, rail and active travel but warned that the current criteria used by the Scottish Government to assess investment for transport projects is stacked against Dumfries and Galloway due to our rurality and low population.

Councillor Colin Smyth said, “Dumfries and Galloway faces a number of major economic challenges around the lack of high skilled jobs opportunities in the region partly due to the poor transport infrastructure we have in the region. The problem is the current Scottish Government criteria for funding big infrastructure projects is stacked against us. Vital projects such as a proper link road from Dumfries to the M74 or the re-opening of railway stations are always deemed by the Government to be economically unviable due to our rurality and low population. The Scottish Government must reconsider its criteria to enable Dumfries and Galloway to access investment infrastructure. That will open up economic opportunities for the region whether that is supporting the ferries in the west or new railway stations in the east. Put simply better infrastructure is required to deliver a better economy, which is our Council’s number one priority. You have to be naive to think the Transport Minister was ever going to come to the summit with a list of transport improvements the Government would suddenly fund. So the key message we had to get across was a clear demand that we want equity for our area with the rest of Scotland when the next round of transport investment is announced. Current national policies disadvantage Dumfries and Galloway and our region repeatedly misses out. The Scottish Government needs to break down the barriers to transport investment. This summit is only the start of the conversation and we need to keep up the pressure until we unlock the investment our region needs”

During the summit Dumfries and Galloway Council made the case for:
• A review of the criteria used by the Scottish Government to allocate funding for major transport projects, to ensure peripheral regions such as Dumfries and Galloway gain a fairer share when it comes to road, rail and active travel projects
• Better and faster road connectivity between Dumfries and the M74
• Improvements to the A75, A76, A77, A7 to ensure better connectivity north into the rest of Scotland, south into England, and east-west across Dumfries and Galloway
• Improved rail links, including considerations of the re-opening of stations in the region to improving connectivity to Edinburgh, Glasgow, the north of England, London
• Integrated transport services that involve road, rail, ferries
• An end to cuts to the council’s funding from the Scottish Government, which is putting subsidies for local bus services at risk
• Improved digital connectivity

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