I have had another very active week fighting hard for my local ward. I attended the latest Re-Jig meeting to hear of the terrific local work they are doing on Islay and their exciting plans for the future. I will be doing my upmost to support any future venture that Re-Jig will be involved in as investment in local jobs and opportunities are always needed.
I was delighted to speak to local residents in Port Ellen while putting out my latest leaflet. I heard many concerns about roads, poor mobile phone reception and disruptions to our local ferry service.
At the recent MAKI Area Committee I spoke to George Fiddes the Transport Scotland area manager about the terrible state of the trunk roads in Argyll. I asked how did our trunk roads get this bad? When will they be completely repaired? And what is being done to stop this happening again?
When it comes to our trunk roads, much like infrastructure, a program of works is desperately needed with substantial and sustained investment from central government. Trunk roads are not just for our growing tourist population but for all of Argyll's residents both on the mainland and the islands. We have a huge up coming spike in logging tonnage on our roads over the next ten years along with 72 fully loaded artic lorries that leave Islay every month packed with whiskey to a value of over a million pounds each.
All of this combined means that now more then ever we need large scale investment from central government coffers other wise we will see a worsening repetition of last winter's problems.
The following day while attending The Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee I was delighted to back a motion that:
1. Noted the significant capital investment in Argyll and Bute roads of £40m over the past six years, in the context of reducing local authority funding.
2. Acknowledged that this level of investment means that the roads network in Argyll and Bute is among the fastest improving in Scotland.
3. Welcomed the additional capital investment of almost £15m in Argyll and Bute’s roads network agreed unanimously at the council budget in February 2018.
4. Noted that the Leader, as outlined in her budget speech, plans to write to the Scottish Government calling for additional investment in Argyll and Bute’s trunk roads network.
5. Sought greater recognition of the importance of roads to the economy of Argyll and Bute, and Scotland, with regards to whisky, renewables, timber, marine and tourism industries.
6. Highlighted the urgent requirement for funding to address the additional burden on roads budgets caused by severe weather.
For many in the Kintyre and Islands ward and across Argyll and Bute this has been a long time coming and is more than welcome.
As ever, as your local Councillor I will do all that I can to make sure my ward is no longer sidelined as it has been in the past.
Cllr Alastair Redman