Edinburgh City Bypass

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour 11:40 am, 8th March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has any plans to reduce congestion on the Edinburgh city bypass. (S2O-12282)

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

In the next few weeks I expect to receive the final report into possible short and long-term improvements on the A720 Edinburgh city bypass at Sheriffhall roundabout. Agreed short-term improvements such as signal adjustment and localised improvements at the junction will be taken forward straight away and the study's longer-term findings will feed into the current strategic transport project review.

In addition, the trunk roads incident support service, which for the past 18 months has been successfully trialled on the Glasgow motorway network, will be extended to cover the Edinburgh city bypass from 1 April. That move will aid the early and efficient clearance of incidents and hazards that can cause traffic delays.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

The minister was certainly right to use the phrase "long-term". However inconvenient the fact might be for Liberal Democrat candidates in Fife and elsewhere, will the minister confirm that, for four long years, transport in Scotland has been the inescapable responsibility of Liberal Democrat transport ministers? In view of the conspicuous failure to do anything about the daily gridlocks at Sheriffhall and along the rest of the city bypass, which are now aggravated by the mayhem on Milton Road, will the minister redeem himself at this very late stage by proposing something quicker than long-term solutions? He might, for example, give us a firm assurance that there will be grade separation at Sheriffhall. Otherwise, a Liberal apology—a rare thing, indeed—might be in order.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

Perhaps that is Mr Home Robertson's idea of being pleasant and encouraging me to give him a better answer. He obviously did not listen to my previous reply. Moreover, the last time I looked, there were Labour ministers in the Cabinet, and they and Liberal Democrat ministers collectively agree on the strategic projects that should be taken forward. If Mr Home Robertson has a problem with that, he should take the matter up with the Labour Party.

Photo of Derek Brownlee Derek Brownlee Conservative

I almost hesitate to intrude on this little argument, but I am glad that the minister mentioned Sheriffhall, which is the key pinch-point for travellers from the Borders. In addition to the impact of the measures the minister has mentioned, what impact does he think the Dalkeith bypass and the Waverley line will have on reducing congestion at that point? Surely, despite those initiatives, traffic flows through Sheriffhall are, if anything, likely to increase rather than decrease.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

Mr Brownlee makes a reasonable point about how traffic flows—

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

Calm yourself, Mr Swinney.

As I was saying, Mr Brownlee makes a reasonable point about how traffic might flow. Indeed, it is one of the aspects covered in our modelling. The investment in the Borders railway line is a crucial means of reducing dependency on cars and giving people in the area public transport choices. That is important not just for the Borders and Midlothian, but for the various links to the strategic rail network throughout the country. We hope that the project will help with the congestion issues that we must confront.