Local Scottish Conservatives have welcomed Argyll and Bute Council’s prioritisation of essential road infrastructure and supporting young people and economic development, in its budget which was presented today.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron said:
“It is very encouraging that the Council is focusing on those areas which will help deliver jobs and growth, while investing in special measures that support those young people who have been worst affected by the pandemic.
“Local decisions being made by local people makes sense particularly when resources are scarce. It’s good to see our councillors working together to do just that.
“But we also need the Scottish Government to play its part by sorting out key infrastructure in Argyll and Bute such as the A83 and the ferries which they have neglected for far too long.”
Councillor Bobby Good (Dunoon), Depute Policy Lead for Roads and Infrastructure Services. said: “We all recognise that decent roads are absolutely essential for the economic recovery of Argyll and Bute and that’s why I am so pleased that we have managed to secure record funding to improve the network.
“Of course, the key to this is the A83 and the Rest and Be Thankful which is in a totally unacceptable state, but is outside the Council’s remit. I just wish the Scottish Government would show a similar sense of urgency to the Council and get it fixed once and for all.”
Councillor Yvonne McNeilly (Cowal), Policy Lead for Education, said: “We are making strenuous efforts to support our young people, particularly those who have been worst affected by being kept out of school.
“On the whole, they have shown themselves to be immensely resilient but, inevitably, the pandemic has had a toll on the mental health and well-being of some youngsters and we have a responsibility to give them the help they need.
“Our thanks go to all our school staff who have worked so hard under exceptionally challenging conditions. However we are not out of the woods yet, and we will be asking them to keep up the momentum as the consequences of the pandemic will be with us for some time yet.”
Councillor Alastair Redman (Kintyre and the Islands), Policy Lead for Business, Regeneration and Commercial Development, added: “We will be investing an extra £800,000 in economic development which will contribute to improved digital connectivity and is an absolute prerequisite for businesses and job creation.
“And improving the roads, particularly for communities like the ones I represent in more remote areas, is good for the local economy too.
“Securing jobs and livelihoods for local people is an absolute priority for the council.”
Donald Cameron added that he was backing proposals by the Scottish Conservatives to secure fairer funding for councils.
The proposals, which would create a new fiscal framework for councils with an automatic amount transferred each year from the Scottish Government’s budget. They are modelled on the Barnett Formula where the UK Government guarantees funding for the Scottish Government.
He said: “Councils across the Highlands and Islands like Argyll and Bute have had a rotten deal from Holyrood for years.
“While the SNP lavishes cash on its favoured Central Belt projects, we have been left with crumbling roads, rusting ferries and the loss of our young people, despite the best efforts of local councillors.
“The Scottish Conservative proposals will give local elected representatives guaranteed resources to invest where the need is greatest rather than be reliant on the whims of bureaucrats and politicians who never come anywhere near our communities.”