Sun 21 Feb, 2016

Investments that improve health, cut emissions and provide much needed homes would be a far better use of this £62 million and still boost jobs. Holyrood needs to be bolder, with fresh ideas to bring about a better Scotland for all. Kirsten Robb

The proposed dualling of the entire length of East Kilbride's Stewartfield Way via City Deal funding is an expensive, ineffective and damaging distraction from investing in more positive projects, says Kirsten Robb, Scottish Green Party lead candidate for Central Scotland.

With a planning application expected to be lodged from June this year, construction on the £62 million scheme is proposed to start in January 2019 (1). City Deal, whose aim is economic development alone, is funded from the governments at Westminster and Holyrood with South Lanarkshire Council borrowing money to fund their part. It is proposed to dual all of Stewartfield Way from the junction with the A726, Glasgow Southern Orbital, to a new junction with the A725 trunk road, east of Whirlies Roundabout.

Kirsten commented, "I am disappointed by the narrow vision of this project. With cuts to school bus services, poor public transport and recent concerns about walking or cycling routes, the last thing Stewartfield needs is a dual carriageway running through it. City Deal projects could be a great opportunity to create public transport we can all use, to improve health through fantastic walking and cycling routes and address our town's housing crisis, providing jobs and boosting the economy.

"Stewartfield has a lovely environment just now but local people I have spoken to are concerned that the dual carriageway will cut them off from and destroy their local greenspaces like parts of James Hamilton Heritage Park and the National Museum of Rural Life. Just a few months ago, South Lanarkshire Council passed the planning application for another City Deal project, the Cathkin By Pass, despite massive local opposition. The contractors have now moved in, bulldozing through the only green space and valuable walking route these people have, just a few years after the area was designated a community park."

Kirsten also questioned how this project will cut emissions from traffic, contribute to active travel and address climate change emissions from vehicles, as set out in the Local Transport Strategy (1). The latest statistics (2) show that more people are driving to work, less people are car sharing, fewer people walk to work and bus travel is static.

"At national and local levels, governments still appear to operate in silos resulting in poorly thought out projects like dualling the Stewartfield Way. Investments that improve health, cut emissions and provide much needed homes would be a far better use of this £62 million and still boost jobs. Holyrood needs to be bolder, with fresh ideas to bring about a better Scotland for all. With more Green MSPs we can do just that."

(1) https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/viewDoc.asp?c=P62AFQ... - Appendix 4.

(2) http://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/downloads/file/7420/local_transport_s... - See Section 3, giving latest travel statistics.

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