Tag Archives: Dualling the A9

Dualling the A9

One of the worst moments in this job is when you get that call from the police to say that there has been a road accident in the constituency. Instantly, you know what it’s going to be – another accident and probable fatality on the A9. Immediately, thoughts go out to the family involved and hopes are that it is not as bad as initially conveyed.

All of us who live in Perthshire are familiar with this danger that exists on our doorstep. Nearly 70 people were killed on the road between 2006 and 2010 and the road’s notoriety as a killer road is well deserved. My first experience of the dangers of this road was back in 2001 when I was a candidate standing for the first time. Just months before my election, three generations of an Israeli family were killed in one of the most serious accidents on the road at the old Ballinluig junction. It was following that incident that I vowed that I would do everything that I could to ensure that this killer road became safe. Since then, we have secured the new grade-separated junction at Ballinluig and the new junction at Bankfoot, all good, but not enough to make this road completely safe. What, of course, is required is the full dualling between Perth and Inverness.

That is why I am so pleased that real progress is now being made. The SNP Scottish Government have now committed to a full dualling programme between Perth and Inverness for the first time. But it won’t be an easy task. Dualling the A9 is a complex and challenging programme, indeed it is possibly one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Scotland. Contractors have now been appointed to carry out preliminary engineering work and communities in Bankfoot and Dunkeld have already seen plans for the road round their communities. The scale of the project means that this won’t happen overnight. Communities need to be fully consulted and the challenging environment properly assessed.

When complete, a dualled A9 will bring many benefits to the communities of Perthshire and the Highlands. We will have a safe and free-flowing link to the Highlands bringing real economic benefits

What we need is for all of Perthshire’s politicians to work together to make this happen. The priority now must be the upgrading of the A9, not the unwanted Edinburgh trams. Yes, we want this done as soon as possible, but I think we should ensure that communities have their say and the work is properly assessed and planned.

A Long Road For Farepak Customers

You may recall in previous Quair articles, I raised the issue of constituents who had lost money following the collapse of Farepak, the Christmas savings firm.  I also held a public meeting in Aberfeldy.  We have now heard that customers and agents of Farepak will ultimately receive half of the money they lost when the company collapsed – after liquidators BDO said that final payments will be made to those who lost out at the end of August.

Farepak collapsed in October 2006 owing £37m to more than 119,000 savers and I was contacted by a lot of constituents who had been affected.  While savers are to recover just half of their money back the final bill for the administrators and their legal advisers has already exceeded £8 million. It is understood that the UK Government will also meet the costs of the company directors who have been cleared – costs estimated as much as £6million.

After a six year wait it is shameful that customers and agents will only receive half their money back while administrators pocket millions and taxpayers pick up the tab for the company directors’ legal costs.  There is something seriously wrong when liquidations can take years to finalise.  Sadly, over 200 of those waiting for compensation have actually passed away while waiting for the insolvency gravy train to come to a halt.

It should be stressed that Farepak’s liquidator has confirmed that dividends will be paid to the next of kin or, where applicable, the estate of the agent or customer.  Also, creditors who have changed their address since submitting their original claim but have not notified the Claims Management Team should register their change of address by sending details of their name, their agent’s number, the amount of their claim, their old address, their new address and their signature to Claims Management Team, Farepak Food & Gifts Limited – In Liquidation, PO Box 3404, Swindon, SN2 9EQ within two weeks.

Having waited for so long, I would hate to see anyone missing out on getting back at least some of what they are due.

I was delighted to be in Aberfeldy recently to perform the tape cutting ceremony to  officially open the new garden green space which has been created from the jungle of weeds that had developed over the years at the back of the Town Hall.  The area has been landscaped with the help of a grant from the Griffin fund.  During the day the Horizon Social Club held their all day garden tea party to raise funds.  Despite the rain, there was a good turnout, and the Horizon Club all day cafe was very popular. Congratulations to all those involved.

I was pleased to give a warm welcome to the announcement by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Infrastructure, that the £3bn programme of work to make the A9 dual carriageway all the way from Inverness to Perth will start two years ahead of the original schedule. This will mean that work on these important improvements will start two years ahead of the original schedule.

Since 2007, we have already seen £50million invested in improving safety and traffic flow on the A9 and once this programme is completed the road will, at long last, be dual carriageway along the whole of that stretch from Perth to Inverness.

The A9 is a massively important arterial route running along Scotland’s spine and giving goods, commuters and visitors access to the many communities along its length.  Any fatal accident is one too many but the number of accidents and the number of fatalities on the A9 have born tragic witness to the need for this work to be done.  I am proud that after years and years of campaigning by the A9 communities, it is our Scottish Government that has put in place the plans, the money and the timetable that will see these important safety improvements brought into being.

I can be contacted at my office in Blairgowrie at 35 Perth Street, Blairgowrie, PH10 6DL, you can call me on 01250 876 576 or email me at wishartp@parliament.uk

Newsround North Article – March 2012

I was pleased to see that plans for widening the 10 mile stretch of the A9 between Luncarty and the Tay Crossing at a cost of £200 million recently went on display to the public.  I recently visited the exhibition in Bankfoot

The Scottish Government has prioritised the dualling of the A9 in a way in which none of its predecessors came close to achieving.  We now have a firm commitment with timescales and price tags for the whole route between Perth and Inverness.

I was delighted that plans for the stretch between Luncarty and the Tay Crossing were on public display in Perth, Dunkeld and Bankfoot, and it was good to see so many local folk attend the exhibitions, examine the plans and provide feedback to ensure that the detailed designs will best reflect local needs and minimise the disruption that the work will inevitably cause.

My SNP Westminster colleagues and I have called on the UK Government to step-in and speed up the compensation process for Farepak families after liquidators confirmed in a letter that 207 agents and customers of the Christmas saving scheme have died since the collapse five years ago.

Many of my constituents in Highland Perthshire lost Christmas savings when Farepak collapsed in October 2006 owing £37m to more than 119,000 savers (20,000 customers in Scotland).  I also held a well attended public meeting in Aberfeldy on this issue.  More than five years later, savers are likely to recover just 5p in the pound, while the final bill for the administrators and their legal advisers has already exceeded £8 million.

It is very sad to learn that, five years after Farepak collapsed, more than two hundred customers have died waiting to receive any of their money back.  There is something seriously wrong when liquidations can take years to finalise and people are actually dying before the insolvency gravy train comes to a halt.  That really does underline the serious need for an overhaul of the insolvency industry

Five years on from the Farepak collapse that nightmare of Christmas past is still being felt by many low income families.  Savers are likely to recover just 5p in the pound, while the final bill for the administrators and their legal advisers has already exceeded £8 million.  It is simply disgraceful that, years after the company collapsed, there are customers still waiting to get any of their savings back.

Current UK insolvency regulation has failed.  Part of the problem seems to be that the industry is largely self-regulated.  UK Ministers should step in without further delay bring this sorry tale to an end and ensure that the savers receive a reasonable return rather than their money going to swell the already bulging pockets of large accountancy firms

Research has shown that Farepak families are not alone in losing out, with other High Street and high profile examples include: Zavvi, the music retail chain, which went into administration in November 2008, owing unsecured creditors nearly £185m – including 510,000 unredeemed vouchers worth an estimated £4.1m. Creditors are just receiving 15p in the pound, while administrators Ernst & Young collected millions in fees.

Furniture chain, Land of Leather, went into administration with debts of £37m in January 2009. Creditors received just 9p in the pound, while administrators Deloitte and Touche collected fees of £2.5m.

Liquidations have no statutory time limit and some, such as the Israel-British Bank, which entered liquidation in 1974 was only finalised in September 2009. Also in 1974, holiday firm Apal Travel went into liquidation – finalised only in August 20089 by which time some of the holidaymakers entitled to receive the 74p in the pound settlement had probably died in the intervening 35 years.

I can be contacted at my office in Blairgowrie at 35 Perth Street, Blairgowrie, PH10 6DL, you can call me on 01250 876 576 or email me at wishartp@ parliament.uk