The Scottish Government is prioritising a “referendum over roads” in its latest spending review, according to Ayrshire MSP Sharon Dowey.

The Conservative politician spoke out after the A77 was not mentioned in the SNP-led Scottish Government’s Ministerial Statement on resource spending last week.

Ms Dowey claims the SNP is overlooking crucial upgrades on the A77 in favour of a second Scottish independence referendum.

She said: “There is insufficient funding to finally dual the A77 to improve safety and traffic flow, but there is plenty of room to spend £20 million on the divisive independence referendum plans for 2023/24.

“I've repeatedly advised the SNP government to find funding for the A77. They continue to claim that the Maybole Pass has resolved the problems that motorists continue to face on the A77, but this is not the case.

"Ask the residents who use this road every day, and all the haulage companies who believe the A77 is unfit for purpose.”

The Tory MSP has repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to include dualling the important commercial and tourist route in their plans and says there are a number of issues with the road.

According to Ms Dowey, this includes: a lack of overtaking sections; dangerous junctions; crumbling surfaces; narrow roads through towns; and disruption caused by road closures due to maintenance or accidents.

However, the South West Scotland Transport Study, published in January 2020, emphasised the importance of a connected, safe, resilient and high quality transport network for South West Scotland and found that targeted improvements - rather than full dualling - more proportionally meet the regional transport objectives.

In response to Ms Dowey’s comments, a Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“We have set out proposals for future investment in the Scottish road network in the recently published Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).

“We have made clear that the UK Government should provide appropriate funding to enable us to progress improvements to the A75 and A77, and will continue to press this case.”

The spokesperson highlighted that the Scottish Government opened the £29m Maybole Bypass in January, improving road safety and air quality in the town and bringing more reliable journey times for road users.

Since 2007, around £35m has also been spent on four schemes along the A77 at Haggstone, Glenapp, Park End to Bennane and Symmington to Bogend Toll.

During this time, six new schemes have also been constructed on the A75 to improve overtaking and remove known pinch points.

The spokesperson added: “Looking ahead, the STPR2 recommendations include two options of targeted and safety related road improvements on both the A75 and A77, including enhancing overtaking opportunities, widening or realigning carriageways – for example, bypassing the villages of Crocketford and Springholm – and improving junctions."

"This is in addition to four separate schemes constructed on the A77 and six new schemes on the A75 since 2007.

“The Scottish Government has a clear mandate to hold a referendum on independence and is committed to doing so once the Covid-19 crisis has passed and, Covid allowing, within the first half of this parliament.”