North East MSP Peter Chapman has challenged Economy Secretary Keith Brown about the opening of the Aberdeen bypass and the impact of the development on local businesses.
The Scottish Conservative asked a series of questions during a session of the Rural Economy and Connectivity committee at Holyrood yesterday (Wednesday, May 23).
One of the two partners in the consortium building the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), Galliford Try, said earlier this week that the project will be completed by the summer.
However, Mr Brown again said that it could be late Autumn before the road is open to traffic.
He also refused to confirm that the road would definitely be finished in 2018.
Mr Chapman also raised concerns over signage on the Balmedie-Tipperty stretch that is causing problems for local businesses. He said that trade at local restaurants and bed and breakfasts is “falling off a cliff” because motorists are driving straight past or have difficulty finding the establishments.
Speaking after the committee, Mr Chapman said: “People in the north-east will rightly wonder who to believe when it comes to opening dates for the new bypass.
“One of the lead contractors is saying it will be open by summer, while the Cabinet Secretary is saying it could be late Autumn and won’t confirm it will even be this year.
“Motorists have been waiting a long time for this road to be built and have put up with years of disruption. I think there will be a sense of frustration at these mixed messages.”
On the issue of the signage on the Balmedie-Tipperty stretch, Mr Chapman added: “I have implored the Cabinet Secretary to take action on this issue. I know the local area, but I ended up with a 10-mile detour to find one of these businesses last week. This is a major issue and it is no exaggeration to say that business is falling off a cliff.
“The AWPR will bring undoubted economic benefit, but we must do all we can to ensure that there is no negative impact on local firms due to poor signage.”