Hoping that politicians’ road trip may be step in right direction

So the Scottish Parliament, or at least a part of it, has been to Hawick for a meeting that the public were allowed to get into.

That’s great and a step forward for democracy. I heard the presiding officer, interviewed on BBC radio, saying that not only the MSPs, but civil servants and even the security people were transported lock, stock and barrel to Hawick, and that, too, is wonderful.

I wonder how many of them came down the A7 to get to these meetings and speak to the people of the Borders. I wonder how many drove themselves or had a chauffeur-driven car laid on for them to motor into them thar hills and see for themselves what a road we have to put up with.

Of course it’s good that at long last a short part of the former Waverley railway line is to reopen from Edinburgh to Tweedbank – I have been a supporter of the restoration of the railway line ever since the day it closed in 1969.

There are those who say that it would be better to spend the money on the A7, but they are wrong. The money allocated for the single-track railway must be spent on a railway and if not here in the Borders then it would have to go elsewhere to be spent on another railway.

That’s fine and I have no argument with that. But surely that very argument dictates that no money has been taken out of the roads budget to spend on the railway so, inevitably, then the Borders is entitled to its share of the roads budget to spend on the A7 and A68. That includes major upgrading and the promised bypass for Selkirk.

If a bypass for Aberdeen is classed as “strategic” when most of the traffic up to the north-east actually stops at Aberdeen, then surely the same rules apply to the one and only road which connects directly with our southern neighbours from Scotland’s capital city.

There has been far too much shillying and shallying about a roads network in the Borders and south-east Scotland which is a vastly more important link in Scotland than the cul-de-sac which is the north-east after Aberdeen. The Borders has been starved of investment and industry for far too long, and even a cursory glance driving south from Edinburgh can show that housing, infrastructure and investment peters out after Newtonloan Toll.

So let us all hope that all the politicians of whatever political party had to drive themselves down to Hawick earlier this week and have seen for themselves what we have to suffer.

The A7 must be re-entered on the “strategic” roads network and we must get back to the maps originally drawn in the 1930s showing the M6 leaving Carlisle and coming up through the Borders to Edinburgh. Anything less is unacceptable.

Kenneth Gunn