Bonhill from the air


Jackie Baillie wants Scottish Power and Council to enter talks to solve this.

By Bill Heaney

Another roadworks bourach – similar to the one which hit Glasgow Road in Dumbarton – could be on its way to West Dunbartonshire.

Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, has called on West Dunbartonshire Council to work with Scottish Power and SPT to reduce the disruption to residents of Bonhill during the upcoming period of road works on Stirling Road.

Stirling Road (that is locally known as The Back Road past Aggreko, Chivas and the Lions’ Gates) is due to close on 12 August for a period of SIX weeks to allow Scottish Power to carry out cable works. This is due to result in a significant reduction in transport services in the area, with only the subsidised 207 Garelochhead Coaches service scheduled to run during this period.

In response to a letter from the MSP, SPT have acknowledged the significant disruption the road closure will have and state that they had tried to make alternative arrangements with Scottish Power but a compromise could not be agreed.

A shuttle bus is required to maintain a service in the area but Scottish Power have refused to compensate a third party for the service. SPT has advised that a Temporary Transport Regulation Order is required to ensure a service is maintained and have written to West Dunbartonshire Council about this and they are awaiting a response.

Jackie Baillie has written to Scottish Power and West Dunbartonshire Council to ask what steps they are taking to ensure a public transport service is retained during the period of the road closure.

Jackie said: ““We have already seen the chaos caused by road works on Glasgow Road which stopped bus services and forced cars onto the A82. That was Scottish Gas Networks. This time it is Scottish Power but West Dunbartonshire Council has responsibility for making sure that the disruption caused by the works is minimal.

“It is clear that it is essential, especially for elderly and disabled people, that a bus service in Bonhill can be retained during the six weeks that Stirling Road is set to be closed. Providing no public transport provision for residents is simply not an option.

“SPT has advised the council that a Temporary Transport Regulation Order is necessary. I hope that the council will implement this immediately and I would urge Scottish Power to do the decent thing and provide a replacement bus service if they are going to close the road.”

West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP administration refused to comment to The Democrat, although it was revealed a month ago that they had given up responsibility for roads and handed it over to an official from Inverclyde and taken their own roads director off their senior management chart.

Meanwhile, new figures revealed by Job Centre Plus show that people in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and Lomond have received £700,000 in advance payments since Universal Credit began full service.

The data also reveals that almost 2000 advanced payments, which are paid as loans to claimants during their five-week wait for their first payment, have been paid out to people in Dumbarton, Alexandria and Helensburgh since Universal Credit was introduced.

Full roll out of Universal Credit was implemented in Argyll and Bute in September 2018, and in November 2018 in West Dunbartonshire. More than 1700 people have been transitioned over to the new system during that time.

The figures follow reports that scammers are fraudulently claiming advance loans through misuse of the system.

Jackie Baillie said: “It is heart-breaking to learn that £700,000 has had to be paid out in advance loan payments since Universal Credit full service was introduced in September and November last year.

“More and more people are being pushed into hardship because of the delays in the system, when they are already struggling – it is clear that this is not a system designed to help those who need it. It is a system that is causing people to choose between heating and eating.

“People who are on Universal Credit shouldn’t be forced into claiming advance payments which they need to pay back. This only pushes them into debt.

“The Tories must halt this shambolic system and take immediate steps to ensure those who need assistance get it.”

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