Thursday, 7 January 2010



For Immediate Release
Thursday 7th of January 2010

Commenting after this morning’s statement on the extreme winter conditions that have affected Scotland and the rest of the UK, Highlands & Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson - a member of the Scottish Parliament's Transport Committee - attacked Labour’s attempts to politicise the issue and highlighted their hypocrisy since they had attempted to cut £10 million from the winter roads budget last year.

This morning Labour attempted to make inaccurate claims that there was shortage of funds to tackle the challenging conditions on Scotland’s roads and failed to praise the work of gritting squads who have worked throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Mr Gibson warned that Labour’s plans to cut £10 million a year from winter maintenance would have seriously damaged Scotland’s capacity to deal with the current cold weather.

As a Transport Committee Report from January 2008 shows Labour attempted to cut £10 million from last year’s budget, a further £10 million this year and another £10 million in the year ahead.

Commenting Mr Gibson said:

"Labour’s attempts at politicising this serious issue are as dodgy as all their claims and also highly hypocritical. It just shows how Labour has simply become the anti-SNP party and will go through the weirdest contortions to attack the SNP.

"At a time when local authorities and the Scottish Government are working together to keep roads clear it would have been Labour’s plans for a £10 million funding cut that would have had a disastrous impact.

“The last few weeks highlight the folly of Labour’s proposal to cut £10 million a year from the winter road maintenance fund.

"Shockingly this move was also backed by MSPs for some of the worst affected areas.

"Labour must make clear that they will not seek to make such inappropriate proposals again when this year’s budget comes to Parliament.

“It is gritting teams that have put a massive amount of effort into keeping the trunk roads clear and we should praise their hard work over the last few weeks.

"The Scottish Government’s increased investment in winter road maintenance has helped keep the network moving.”



Minutes from the Transport Committee Report Jan 08

The Committee notes the Cabinet Secretary’s comments in relation to the winding down of the route development fund and the on-going activity he has highlighted in relation to the promotion of Scotland. However, a majority of the Committee is of the view that steps should be taken to provide alternative and specific support to encourage the development of new air routes.

304 It therefore recommends that the Support for Air Services spend should be increased by £10m per annum and that this should be funded by a transfer from the Routine and Winter Maintenance Level 3 line. (304 Charlie Gordon, Alex Johnstone, Cathy Peattie and David Stewart agreed; Rob Gibson, Patrick Harvie and Shirley-Anne Somerville dissented; Alison McInnes abstained)

Finance Committee Report Jan 08

Elaine Murray proposed the addition of the following text:

The Committee recommends that a Support for Air Services Fund should be created, at a cost of £10m per annum. This will be funded by a transfer from the Routine and Winter Maintenance Level 3 line.

The proposal was disagreed to by division: For: 3 (James Kelly, Tom McCabe, Elaine Murray), Against: 4 (Derek Brownlee, Joe FitzPatrick, Alex Neil, Andrew Welsh), Abstentions: 1 (Liam McArthur).

John Swinney - Budget stage 1 debate

The Labour Party came forward with a range of propositions, none of which was successful in the Parliament's Finance Committee. Those included the bizarre proposition to reduce the winter maintenance budget just as Scotland was in the grip of some of the heaviest snow we had seen in many years—a short-sighted proposition if ever I saw one.

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