Transport (Ayrshire)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 21st June 2007.

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Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour 11:40 am, 21st June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what its transport priorities are for Ayrshire. (S3O-322)

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Transport priorities for Ayrshire are the responsibility of the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and the relevant local authorities. The Scottish Executive will continue to work closely with those bodies, in line with the national transport strategy, to meet the transport needs of Ayrshire.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

The Scottish Executive has responsibility for trunk roads. Does the minister agree that road safety for vehicle passengers and pedestrians is a key element of any transport strategy? Does he consider further improvements to the A77 in my constituency, including a bypass for Maybole, to be a priority? Will he examine the accident statistics for the A70 and consider making it a trunk road in light of its strategic importance in connecting south and east Ayrshire with the M74? Finally, will he consider what improvements can be made to the A76, including bypassing the villages that suffer from heavy traffic, such as Mauchline and New Cumnock, and take early action to ensure that the footpath that runs part of the way between Cumnock and New Cumnock is completed so that those who walk the route regularly can do so in safety?

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

It may interest the member to know that I will shortly consider the regional transport strategies. I expect to see reflected in those that affect Ayrshire the matters that she raised. On a date yet to be agreed, I will visit Ayrshire to see some of the roads in question. I will do so at the invitation of John Scott, the Conservative MSP, but I will be happy to meet other people during that visit if it assists in ensuring that I understand the issues in sufficient detail to respond appropriately.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

I draw the minister's attention to the fact that the lack of sufficient public transport connections between different points is a barrier to economic expansion in Ayrshire. Will he consider the possibility of setting up, on a pilot basis, a bus route development fund similar to the successful air route development fund, to try to remove those barriers to economic development in Ayrshire?

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

A bus route development grant is already in existence: it provides £22.5 million over three years to support 50 new and enhanced bus services across Scotland. I note what the member says about public transport in Ayr. When I read the regional transport strategy later this month, I will certainly respond to the issue he has raised.