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Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon called to give evidence to A9 committee inquiry

By Scott Maclennan

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A9 dualling project sign.
A9 dualling project sign.

The inquiry in the A9 dualling failure has revealed that it is seeking “written evidence” from First Minister Humza Yousaf and former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as well as Transport Secretary Mairi McAllan.

Holyrood’s petitions committee convener Jackson Carlaw said all three could subsequently be called to give evidence in person because it is important “to understand what went wrong and how mistakes can be avoided in the future.”

The petition by Kincraig-based A9 campaigner Laura Hansler was escalated to an inquiry by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee allowing for a broader scope of evidence to be looked at.

MSP Fergus Ewing revealed he wanted to call Mr Sturgeon after former cabinet secretary for infrastructure Alex Neil told the committee last month that the Scottish Government must have “taken their foot off the accelerator.”

The committee met in private last week to consider the responses and evidence gathered so far. It decided to request the Scottish Government provide documents on the A9 Dualling Project, prepared by Transport Scotland officials between 2012 and 2023, and has written to several former relevant Ministers requesting written evidence.

So far the petitions committee has written to Mairi McAllan, the cabinet secretary for transport, requesting relevant documents are provided to the inquiry as well as to previous government ministers, with responsibility for the A9 Dualling Project,.

That includes Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf who have specifically been asked what advice they received during their time in the transport or infrastructure portfolios on progress towards dualling.

In October the Committee took evidence from Alex Neil, in his capacity as the former cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, during which Mr Neil indicated that a detailed plan for the completion of the dualling work was prepared by Transport Scotland officials in 2012.

To support the inquiry, the committee has now requested a copy of this document, understood to be dated 28 May 2012.

The committee had previously agreed to invite the current cabinet secretary to give evidence at the earliest possible opportunity after they or the minister for transport have provided the promised statement to parliament in the autumn on the revised timetable for dualling the A9.

Convener of the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee, Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “Following the evidence from Alex Neil, we’ve already heard that finishing the A9 dualling project 25 years late is 'unacceptable' and it’s clear that lessons need to be learned.

“This is important, not only to support completion of the A9 the earliest possible date, but also to understand what went wrong and how mistakes can be avoided in the future.

“The Committee have now requested the relevant documentation from the Scottish Government setting out what advice was provided by Transport Scotland to Ministers in 2012 regarding the project.

“In addition to this we’ve invited subsequent Ministers who held responsibility for A9 Dualling, including Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon to provide written evidence, following which we may invite them to appear in front of the Committee if deemed necessary.

“In the meantime, we eagerly anticipate the Cabinet Secretary’s promised update on the A9 Dualling Project to Parliament in the near future.”

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