Jean pulls out of Danny Alexander’s ‘publicity stunt’ A9 summit

Picture of HGV tanker. Caption: The average speed of HGVs above 75 tonnes is currently in excess of 50mph.
Source: A9 Safety Group.

Jean, along with fellow Highlands and Islands independent MSP John Finnie, has withdrawn from Danny Alexander’s “Highland Infrastructure Forum” discussion group on the future of the A9 after their participation was used in the media to claim they are supporters of the Treasury minister’s campaign against average speed cameras. Both Jean and John are firmly in favour of the cameras, which will save lives on the notoriously dangerous road.

Jean and John explained their decision in this letter to the Highland papers:

“We agreed to take part in the ‘Highland Infrastructure Forum’ after Danny Alexander presented it to us as an effort to gather ‘a wide range of opinion’. But the first time the group appeared in the media, its members – including us – were described as ‘leaders of a campaign battling to block the A9 average-speed cameras’.

“The one-hour-long first meeting of the group includes a 20-minute press conference. That shows what the priority of the ‘Forum’ really is.

“Of course we were aware of the risk that Alexander’s group would simply be a publicity stunt for his own campaign, but real discussion is important enough that we gave it the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, a publicity stunt is exactly what it turned out to be.

“The A9 is one of the most notorious roads in the country. On average, one in three cars on the A9 is speeding, making collisions more likely and more deadly. Average speed cameras will save lives.

“The only people who have anything to fear from average speed cameras are those intent on breaking the law and risking lives.

“We are both 100% behind this measure to make the A9 safer. We’ll discuss this issue with anyone, but we won’t be used to whitewash an MP’s publicity campaign. We won’t be taking part in Danny Alexander’s project.”

The websites of the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald and the Ross-shire Journal both originally said:

“Leaders of a campaign battling to block the A9 average-speed cameras scheme will meet in Inverness on Friday.

“MP Danny Alexander’s Highland Infrastructure Forum, which includes representatives of Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, the Federation for Small Businesses, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, and Highlands and Islands MSPs Jean Urquhart, John Finnie and Mary Scanlon, will take place at the Palace Hotel.”

After the MSPs contacted them to point out the mistake, both papers immediately corrected the story by removing Jean and John’s names from the articles.

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