A83 Task Force must meet

Cabinet secretary for transport Michael Matheson visiting the Rest and Be Thankful on Friday.

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The councillors who raised a petition which founded the A83 Task Force have called for it to be recalled.

Argyll First councillors, Dougie Philand (Ind) and Donald Kelly (Con) called for an urgent Task Force meeting in the wake of the road’s closure this week, after landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful.

Their petition, lodged with the Scottish parliament in 2014,  garnered more than 10,000 signatures, support from 400 businesses and the Scottish government minister for Brexit, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell.

In April 2015 Mr Russell persuaded the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee to keep the petition live.

On Friday Mr Russell said: ‘Along with councillors on both sides of the RABT and the MP Brendan O’Hara I am pressing for an urgent meeting of the A83 Task Force.

‘To ensure that, the new transport minister, Michael Matheson, is absolutely aware of the A83 as unfinished business which needs further action and investment.’

Reacting to the closure of the Rest and Be Thankful earlier this week, and the failure to open the Old Military Road diversion after further landslips on Friday.

Mr Russell said: ‘I was at the Rest this morning with Mr Matheson, though we were at different sides of the new slips that suddenly occurred as a result of torrential rain and high wind.

‘I know that the team from Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland are doing their utmost to get the roads open again but in these conditions they are working against severe odds.

‘They deserve the community’s gratitude and support as they continue with their very difficult tasks.

I am more than aware of the inconvenience, last night coming back from Edinburgh, very late, I had to drive an extra 40 miles, which took an hour more than the normal trip.

‘There is disruption to road haulage, normal journeys and special outings.

‘Local business is losing money. It is frustrating and annoying and everyone wants – and needs – normal service to be resumed.