SNP snubs road upgrade fund from Westminster
Holyrood is accused of playing politics over road funding
SNP ministers have failed to take up millions of pounds from the UK government to upgrade Scotland’s roads.
Scotland Office minister David Duguid accused Nicola Sturgeon’s government of a “lack of engagement” with a key review of routes commissioned by the UK government.
Whitehall officials claim Holyrood is refusing the finance for political reasons and are now considering bypassing the Scottish government and offering money directly to local councils.
Mr Duguid, the Scotland Office minister, said counterparts in Edinburgh had access to a £20 million pot to identify potential projects that could then be funded by “levelling up” funds provided by the Treasury.
David Duguid: ‘ready to work together’
This will initially focus on best ways to upgrade key routes that were identified by Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, earlier in the year in his Union Connectivity Review.
Mr Duguid said: “The lack of engagement from the Scottish Government on the Union Connectivity Review thus far is disappointing.
“The people of Scotland are set to miss out on the benefits of this £20m interim funding, which could improve their day-to-day lives, something for which we all should be striving for.
“Failing to engage when there is funding on the table risks leaving Scotland at a standstill.”
The Tory MP was addressing the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum, and said the UK Government was aware how transport links were “vital to economic growth, job creation and social cohesion.”
Mr Duguid said ministers in Whitehall would “stand ready to work together with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to consider the recommendations of the UCR once they are published”.
With Sir Peter to publish his final recommendations later in the year, the minister added: “It is important that we work together so the benefits of this review can truly be felt across the entire United Kingdom.
“I look forward to the final report being published later this year and working across governments to make these recommendations a reality.”
A spokesperson for Scottish Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “Transport is devolved to Holyrood and the Tories should respect that, instead of engaging in a power grab which has seen them promise much, but deliver little in reality.
“The so-called Union Connectivity Review was established without any discussion and consultation with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Scotland needs an infrastructure-led economic recovery to deliver new jobs and speed up the transition to net-zero – something the Tories are undermining with their cuts to our capital budget in the UK Spending Review for 2021/22.”