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AWPR contractors could face Holyrood grilling

A section of the AWPR near Kingswells.
A section of the AWPR near Kingswells.

Calls have been made for the contractors of the Aberdeen bypass to appear before Holyrood to explain the delays.

Last week, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson told parliament that Aberdeen Roads Ltd (ARL) had pushed back the “late autumn” completion date of the £745million AWPR and now hoped to have it open in December.

Mr Matheson said a “definitive date” for its opening could not be offered because work to repair defects on the new River Don bridge could be further delayed.

The transport secretary blamed the ARL contractors for their “simply unacceptable” failure to progress his demand to open the 19-mile Craibstone to Stonehaven section, ahead of the completion of the Don crossing.

However, he said such a move would require a variation of the original contract to be agreed by ARL.

Now Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald has written to Edward Mountain, the convener of the Scottish Government’s Rural Economy and Connectivity committee, appealing for him to get the committee to Holyrood to answer questions “as a matter of transparency”.

Mr McDonald said: “It is important that the public have answers as to why the delays that have taken place have occurred, what is being done to address these, and whether the contract variation that would allow Craibstone to Stonehaven to open early will take place.”

Meanwhile Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart has written to Galliford Try, which works under the umbrella of ARL alongside Balfour Beatty, asking the company to address the “contractual issue” which is preventing drivers from using the new multi-million pound road.

He said: “We all know how vital the AWPR will be to the north-east, and I’m angered that Galliford Try have let folk down by deliberating not sorting this matter out.

“The SNP Scottish Government started, and will deliver, this immense project and it’s high time the contractor got its act together.”

Last night, a spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “While there are technical issues to be resolved, this should not prevent the opening of sections of the road which are ready, and we have been pursuing a variation in the contract with Aberdeen Roads Ltd to allow this to happen.

“The contractor must stop its deliberations on this and open the road as soon as possible, so the benefits can be felt by north-east motorists and communities.”

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