Lanark needs its long-long-awaited new road system – but it doesn’t want one “written on the back of a fag packet.”
So said SNP Councillor Julia Marrs during a political spat with her Conservative counterpart Councillor Richard Eliot Lockhart during Monday night’s Lanark Community Council meeting.
She was reacting to the latest call from the Tory councillor for the now SNP-controlled South Lanarkshire Council to “crack on” with finally creating the Lanark Gyratory System which, in various forms, has been at the planning stage since the 1970’s.
He told the meeting that he had received a reply to a query he had sent to the council’s roads department, asking why the project shouldn’t finally become a reality. He dismissed much of that reply as “excuses for not doing anything”.
He noted that the latest road scheme had been drawn up by the council in 2003 and “i5 years is a long time for something to be left on the back-burner.”
Lanark churches member on the council, the Rev Bryan Kerr retorted that South Lanarkshire Council had more urgent priorities than the new Lanark road system. He said: “Nothing is going to be done about this until the Clyde Bridge between Carstairs Junction and Pettinain re-opens. It would be crass for us to spend £3m to £5m on a new Lanark road system when people in these villages can’t get to their work without making a half-hour detour.”
The Conservative councillor retorted that “warnings about the Clyde Bridge being in danger of falling down were given as far back as 1955” and it hadn’t happened yet; in addition, he understood that the £3m repair budget was overblown with an alternative repair scheme costing a tenth of that.
Returning to Lanark’s case, he said that lack of action was a sign “of the, what do you call it, SNP government concentrating on the urban areas at the cost of the rural ones. We are the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council and we should be screaming about this.”
This brought a sharp retort from the SNP’s Councillor Marrs who said: “We don’t want another Tory plan written on the back of a fag packet. You can see where that’s got us in another context.”
She went on to tell the meeting that South Lanarkshire Council didn’t even have the funds to create a proper model plan for the new Lanark system, nevef mind actually build one. She stated that the 2003 plan was now hopelessly out of date.