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Transport / Walls road gets airing in parliament

The A971 into Walls. © Google 2019

THE SINGLE track road into Walls was raised at the Scottish Parliament this week as Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart encouraged the Scottish Government to provide more support for rural roads.

At a recent meeting of the Walls and Sandness Community Council frustration was expressed over the A-road into Walls being single track.

It was mentioned at the meeting that a lack of funding was the main reason why planned improvements to several Shetland roads have not been carried out.

The community council decided to write a letter to MSP Wishart to ask her to call on fellow Highlands and Islands MSPs – as well as those in remote and rural areas – to press the government on additional funding for roads.

Wishart took the opportunity to raise the matter at a portfolio question time session with transport secretary Michael Matheson at Holyrood on Wednesday.

She asked what support there could be for rural roads in the Scottish Government’s proposed islands plan.

“The minister will be aware of how essential the road network in Shetland is for islanders’ transport needs,” Wishart said.

“He will also be aware that the draft national islands plan recognises the importance of transport links for mobility and access to services. My constituents in Sandness and Walls have highlighted that improvements are needed to rural roads in Shetland.

“What support will come from the national islands plan to help Shetland Islands Council with those necessary upgrades?”

Matheson responded: “The member will be aware that we have just completed the draft process of the national transport strategy, which sets out a range of measures that we will take forward to improve transport connectivity across the country, including in our island communities.

“She will also be aware that any actions or improvements on roads that are necessary to improve connectivity within a local authority’s area are its responsibility.

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“We will continue to do what we can to minimise the impact that UK Government cuts are having on the Scottish Government’s budget and to help to protect local authorities, including Shetland Islands Council.

“However, it is important that local authorities play their part in maintaining their local road network to an appropriate level.”

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