North MSP continues to fight for Elgin By Pass
21 April 2009
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Peter Peacock, has today renewed calls for the Scottish Government to provide a much needed by pass for Elgin.
Following the hugely disappointing refusal by the SNP Government to back an Elgin by pass Mr Peacock submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Government to establish what was happening behind the scenes before the decision was taken not to make any funding available.
Mr Peacock said: "The need for a by pass has had my support and I shared in the disappointment at the refusal of the Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, to sanction it in the plans for Scotlandís transport improvements right up to 2020.
"In a copy of an email I received it clearly reveals that the A96 in general and the Elgin by pass in particular was always treated unfairly when compared to the A9.
"It seems clear that from that point on the case for an Elgin by pass was undermined and was never going to happen.
"This is a disgrace, particularly since in reality the government are not proposing any significant improvements to the A9 either.
"Indeed, all reference to a by pass for Elgin (and Keith) was removed in October 2008 even though the case for it was similar to some improvements suggested for the A9.
"At the last minute a passing reference to Elgin was added back for what appears like only presentational purposes, given the go ahead was not sanctioned.
"Clearly if Elgin was ever to be a contender it needed to be on the list and being actively considered right up to the last minute when final decisions were made.
"The criteria used seem to discriminate against Elgin as they do not fully account for the wider economic benefits that opening up development land could bring.
"The Scottish Government would need to seriously look at changing the criteria if Elgin is ever to qualify.
"Sometimes though you just have to make the political commitment to get something done when you know it is the right thing to do.
"Everyone thought the SNP had given that commitment before they got elected, but it transpires that was not the case and people feel they have been let down.
"Many people, myself included, cannot fathom why a by pass of Elgin is not of as much importance as a by pass of Nairn.
"I want to see Elgin treated fairly and the Scottish Government need to set out clearly whether they believe a by pass is needed and whether they are prepared to put their hand pocket to fund it.
"At the moment it seems it is the central belt that is getting all the cash."
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