FRUSTRATED councillors have compared the timetable for the proposed Dumbarton to Helensburgh cycle path to the time it took to build the Great Wall of China.

Argyll and Bute councillor Gary Mulvaney questioned the need for a “place making” tool to be used in applications for funding by national walking and cycling charity Sustrans.

And Councillor David Kinniburgh also sought assurance that the route of the path will not have to be re-designed again.

The project, which has been ongoing since the early 21st century, was recently predicted to be further delayed until 2027.

The debate on the path took place at Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee meeting on March 19.

Cllr Mulvaney said: “When I heard the phrase ‘place making’, I wonder if we are not actually doing a cycle path.

“What it needs is Tarmac, a bit of simple civil engineering, and a little sign saying you are on a cycle way. Where do we get ‘place making’ involved in what is a pavement or cycle path?

“I would be giving Sustrans a good shake, because I don’t understand how that comes into it. No wonder members get frustrated.

“It is another seven or eight years away. The Great Wall of China would be built quicker than this. It is public money and officer time, and I am sure you can appreciate the frustration of members.

“I wonder whether the Scottish Government could take back the whole thing and get rid of Sustrans. The design for one cycle path isn’t the design for many others.”

Cllr Kinniburgh added: “I would have said we will deliver HS2 quicker. It concerns me about the design of this and the timeline we have for it. Are we not in this position because we had to change the design of the path?”

Colin Young, strategic transportation delivery officer with the council, responded: “In terms of the design specifications, we had to redesign the path because the specifications of Sustrans funding changed.

“That said, on the design we are looking to develop and progress, I have had involvement with the standards that are being designed, and would not expect another re-design.

“In terms of Sustrans and place-making, this is a new thing for them this year and officers are trying to get their heads round it as much as we are.

“The officer who looks after Argyll and Bute came into post late in 2019 and is learning the area and active travel.”

A spokesperson for Sustrans said: “Whilst we encourage partners to use the Place Standard tool to help structure their applications, it is not part of the criteria used by Sustrans in assessing whether or not a project receives funding from our Places for Everyone programme.”

By way of comparison, construction of the Great Wall of China began around 2,700 years ago, and the most recent work was completed in 1878.