Smooth Plans for Bumpy Islay Roads

What struck me most during our last visit was the quality of the roads on Islay and other parts of Argyll. Don't get me wrong, it's not that bad, but some stretches really are in a terrible state. It looks like the Highland Council spends far more money on roads than the Argyll and Bute council does. Take the roads on Skye for instance, they are great, well maintained and it's a pleasure to drive there. Even in the far north way beyond Ullapool the roads are far better than in Argyll. In the Ileach of 24 May is an interesting article about this very subject which gives some hope for improvements:

For the last two years there has been little or no capital spending on the roads of Islay, Jura and Colonsay, because the privately owned plant at Ballygrant Quarry is in the words of Council officials 'defunct'. Renewing the plant could cost up to £500,000 and it is thought that the quarry owner is unwilling to spend this amount.At the recent meeting of the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands’ Area Committee local Councillor Robin Currie pressed hard for immediate action on the island roads, even if this meant bringing material from the mainland. Continue reading.... Speaking at the meeting Cllr. Currie said, 'We have been patient long enough and the plant at Ballygrant does not seem to be capable of producing appropriate material, so delayed set material has had to be imported to repair our rapidly deteriorating roads.' He continued, 'I have to be very blunt and insist that every penny that was allocated for the last two years, plus this year’s allocation, has to be spent on the islands. I am very concerned that, since it wasn’t spent, some will have gone to other areas. 'Due to the extra cost of taking material onto Islay by boat, less work will be done, but the Area Committee agreed that the following overlays would be undertaken: Keills to Port Askaig; section of Low Road; North Bay, Port Ellen; sections of High Road; Burnside, Craighouse; sections of Feolin to Craighouse and various sections on Colonsay. This work will be carried out after the surface dressing is completed in June. Speaking to the Ileach, Cllr. Currie said that he was aware of the 'dreadful state' of the Ardbeg to Ardtalla Road, and that he will be having further discussions with officials to see how best to address the situation. The capital works are in addition to the ordinary everyday maintenance projects.

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