Transport Scotland has confirmed to Rhoda Grant MSP that the speed limit is being lowered to 50mph on a road labelled one of the most dangerous in the north

Following safety concerns, Transport Scotland has confirmed to Rhoda Grant MSP that the speed limit is being lowered to 50mph on a road labelled one of the most dangerous in the north.

The MSP has been battling for traffic calming measures on the A9 route between the Asda and Lidl junction next to Tain in her alliance with community campaigners.

And now Scotland’s transport agency has written to her confirming 50mph road signs are going up next week. (Monday August 10).

Mrs Grant said: “Anything that helps to reduce or eliminate accidents and injuries in this area has to be supported. Well done to campaigners who have highlighted safety and the need for change but our campaign doesn’t stop here. More needs to be done to make this road safer and I will continue to press Transport Scotland to bring forward plans.”
The MSP was told last October that a range of improvements, including roundabouts, were going to be considered.

Mrs Grant added: I hope planning for these longer-term improvements will not take long and that the Scottish Government sees this as a funding priority given the number of accidents and near misses on this road.”

The MSP also welcomes the progress being made to enhance safety at the notorious Munlochy junction.

Transport Scotland hired consultancy firm WSP to consider options to improve the layout of the A9 Inverness-Thurso road between North Kessock and Tore, including the junction, which has been the scene of numerous accidents over the years.

MSP welcomes warning signs at Munlochy Junction

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has welcomed the reinstatement of electronic warning signs at the notorious Munlochy junction on the Black Isle.

The MSP campaigned for improvements in the area after being contacted by local residents who had fears about the safety of the junction. The connection on the electronic signage was due to be fixed in early April but was stalled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Mrs Grant has however received notification from the Scottish Government that the work has now been carried out following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mrs Grant said “I am pleased the electronic warning signage is now fully operational and will play a part in improving safety at the junction. I believe further safety work should be carried out in the area as traffic travelling north still has to pass over a busy dual carriage way when entering or leaving the A9 at the junction but this signage being repaired is a first step in improving safety in the area.”

As feared Clydesdale will be closing its Dingwall branch

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is very disappointed that Clydesdale bank’s decision to keep open its Dingwall branch was short lived.

The bank has written to her saying that it will now be closing on August 31 this year.

Earlier this year, Mrs Grant wrote to the Clydesdale bank, which has now merged with Virgin Money, asking about the future of its Dingwall branch given that it said it would not be preceding with closure “until further notice” due to recognition of the impact of Covid 19 and uncertainty.

The MSP asked then if there was further information as to what would happen to the Dingwall branch, for instance whether it would still close this year. She also suggested that the bank might keep the branch open in the long term given that there may be more local footfall for shops and services when restrictions were eased.

The reply at the time from Clydesdale was: “This latest decision comes on top of numerous measures to protect colleague and customer health and wellbeing at this time. Our priority is to continue providing services for our customers, while keeping colleagues safe. These are unprecedented times and we continue to review what further action we can take to support our customers, communities and colleagues.”

Mrs Grant said today: “I am very disappointed at this decision, especially as the previous announcement raised false hopes for some residents.

“I said at the time of the reprieve that I feared it could be temporary and unfortunately I’ve been proved right.

“Bank and ATM closures have hit our rural areas the hardest and the elderly and more vulnerable are being affected. The number of internet banking scams have also increased with Covid-19 and I know some customers are increasingly wary about carrying out these services on line.

“The banks are not for turning despite local and political pressure.”

Last year Mrs Grant had a meeting with bank officials about proposed closures.

Hopes that services for people who are blind or visually impaired can be delivered from new Broadford Hospital

Labour politician Rhoda Grant has been given hope that specialist services for people who are blind or visually impaired can be treated at Broadford Hospital.

People with sight disease macular degeneration are being forced to make the near 200-mile round trip to Inverness.

But now, Rhoda, who represents the Highlands & Islands, says her correspondence with Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, has provided “some optimism” that a new service could be established at the new-build community hospital currently under construction.

Rhoda said: “Constituents contacted me asking if I could try to get these services relocated to the new Broadford Hospital so I wrote to the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and to NHS Highland. At present they have to travel to Raigmore Hospital for regular injections and I know the patients who are making this journey just now are not young and they have other health conditions so travelling the near 200 miles to Inverness and back is really hard for them.”

Rhoda said Jeane Freeman replied to her request stating the Scottish Government is exploring this option and awaiting “supporting data” from Raigmore Hospital.

Rhoda added: “This does give me some optimism, but there is a long way to go so, in the meantime, I will continue to push the Scottish Government and NHS Highland to work together to bring these treatment services to Skye to save people from having to travel hundreds of miles for lifeline treatment. And the same goes for kidney dialysis treatment services.”

Rhoda successfully fought for a new kidney dialysis service for Skye, which will spare seriously unwell patients the thrice-weekly trips to Inverness.

Following her campaign, the health board gave a commitment to deliver the renal procedure from the Mackinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford by May at the latest, provided staff could be recruited.

With the service still not in place, Rhoda said: “I’ve written back to the health board seeking a timeline, for this is desperately needed.”

MSP Rhoda Grant says Skye care home court case delay continues uncertainty for people living there – and says questions remain unanswered on what caused virus to rampage through the home and nowhere else

Responding to the decision by Inverness Sheriff Court this week to agree to a joint motion for a continuation of the proceedings against Skye’s Home Farm Care Home operator HC-One MSP Rhoda Grant said: “This only continues the uncertainty for the people living there and for their relatives and these people have already been through enough.”

The Labour MSP for the Highlands & Islands said it was encouraging to know care levels have improved since the drafting in of NHS Highland staff to the Portree facility following a coronavirus outbreak, but she said it was “depressing to hear that a further inspection carried out at the home within the last 48 hours raised some issues in relation to the use of PPE and the storage of medicines”. She said it was “unbelievable that fundamental aspects of care are still slipping”.

Rhoda went on: “While waiting for the outcome of this case I have been asking questions in Parliament, and lodging written questions with the Scottish Government, the Care Inspectorate and NHS Highland. I have this week challenged the health secretary to explain why this virus rampaged through Home Farm Care Home and nowhere else in the community. I want to know whether test and trace has uncovered any links and I am awaiting answers.”

She added: “The Scottish Government has been pointing the finger at the private care home sector for failing to adhere to its guidelines but my repeated demands to see the Scottish Government’s protocol for how care homes can manage this pandemic has revealed it has yet to be drawn up. This government has been caught short since the beginning and no one is going to forget that.

“But at the moment the only thing that matters is the welfare of these residents. They have been through enough. They need to be given a bit of security in their own home and whatever form that takes, the level of care has to be up to scratch. I wouldn’t be against NHS Highland taking it over the but they need to remain in their own home and the levels of care that they get has to be improved because even after all of this time there are still issues and those issues need to be sorted These people are entitled to that especially given what they have been through. They have lost friends, in a care home you’re like a big family. They’ll all have been stuck in their rooms in the last three months while all this has been happening. What a terrifying existence. They need to come first.”

MSP presses for extended payment holidays

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, in a bid to have payment holidays extended for those who need them due to the continuing restrictions still in place for some self-employed business owners.

Mrs Grant said “While some businesses are preparing for reopening in coming weeks, others are not able to get back into operation yet and this will leave an even bigger hole in their finances if they have to start making monthly repayments again while being unable to gain any income.

“The holidays on mortgage payments and other bills was a lifeline to many self-employed people in the early days of the outbreak. Many of these payment holidays however are due to cease in July meaning some business owners will have to start repaying these again even though they may still be unable to work due to the restrictions in place. I have therefore written to the Chancellor asking if Government is negotiating a longer term for mortgage holidays, and such like, for those who need it.”

The MSP continued “I also understand a further round of payments are to be awarded to the self-employed which is very welcome and I am seeking clarity on whether these further payments will automatically be passed on to people who previously received them or if people will have to re-apply for this.

“While it is good to see some restrictions being lifted and people prepare for reopening, that’s not an option for everyone right now and those unable to restart at this stage need further support meantime.”

Rhoda Grant says time to move on to save winter sports and economy



Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, welcomed the Audit Scotland report on the Management of Cairngorm Mountain and the Funicular Railway.

In particular, the recommendation that HIE “identify and assess any risks associated with potential operators and carefully considers what risks are worth taking and how they are managed” while also providing more information for stakeholders.

“However, the focus now should be on how we can go forward with plans for Cairngorm Mountain with only six months until the next winter ski seasons starts again,” said Mrs Grant.

“In my previous meetings with Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust directors there were two main concerns – the lack of a community project to aid the survival of winter sports but also the slow progress by HIE and CSML in reaching any decisions.

“In the light of Covid-19 and the drastic effect that will have on our economy, there must be a speedy resolution to plans going forward, obviously with the community’s input.

“There is no doubt the funicular opened up the area to thousands of people who would otherwise would not have been able to enjoy our beautiful country and I hope the Scottish Government will see that its repair will give a solid base for job protection and creation, helping the survival of the local economy.”

See the report:…/r…/2020/pb_cairngorm.pdf

MSP offers further talks with Council over childcare issue

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has offered to hold further talks with Orkney Islands Council over childcare provision in the area.

The MSP has spoken to the Chief Executive of Orkney Islands Council previously in a bid to ensure sufficient childcare is available when the Peedie Breeks nursery closes.

Rhoda Grant said “Constituents have been in touch with me for some time now, concerned about what childcare provision there will be when Peedie Breeks closes. The outbreak of Covid-19 however has thrown further spanners in the works for Orkney Islands Council and I spoke to the Chief Executive, John Mundell, about this last month.

“I contacted the Scottish Government again after my discussion with the Council. What has emerged today in their response is nothing short of a mish-mash, with some information provided now, and more to follow in coming weeks.”

The MSP continued “This will no doubt add further uncertainty to the situation in Orkney, especially with Peedie Breeks now closing a month earlier than previously thought.

“Parents in Orkney are becoming increasingly concerned about cover for 0-3 year olds and after school care and I have advised Mr Mundell that I would be happy to have a further discussion with him to see how we can sort this out.

Grant makes plea to Scottish Government to simplify guidelines for care homes on end of life visits during pandemic

MSP Rhoda Grant has asked Scotland’s Cabinet Health Secretary to simplify the government’s guidelines for care homes on end of life visits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In her letter to Jeane Freeman this week, Rhoda said her brain got sore trying to read and understand the rules which are set down for care homes.

She said: “My head was in pieces trying to figure it out. I was using searches and trying to find documents. Imagine if you were working in a care home and trying to do 100 things and read all this confusing guidance?”

Signing off her letter she adds:” Your guidance is absolutely abysmal, and I would ask that you do better.”

It came after Rhoda asked to see the guidelines following complaints from distraught Skye constituent Mandie Harris who said she was refused the chance to be by her husband Colin’s side when he died of Covid-19 at the virus-hit Home Farm Care Home.

Rhoda said: “Mrs Harris phoned me distraught on the day that he died. She said there had been a last-minute confusion which meant she was not able to be at his side when he passed on. She was standing outside his room, her daughter was with him, they asked permission from the care nurse to swap places but as I understand it in the time that it took for the nurse to seek permission for this Mr Harris passed away.

“I feel people shouldn’t be stopped for visiting their relatives on their death beds. A home with enough staff and PPE could have safely allowed this but the guidelines governing this area is totally unclear. If a staff member needs to refer to that at a point where the end of life is close they are not going to be able to understand it, or be able to make a decision, It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Grant says further delay in court case proceedings against owners of coronavirus-hit Home Farm Care Home on Skye is disappointing but the welfare of the residents “has to be at the forefront”

Responding to this morning’s decision by Inverness Sheriff Court to agree to a joint motion for a continuation of another two weeks in the proceedings against HC-One care home firm which runs the Home Farm Care Home on Skye, Highlands & Islands Labour Rhoda Grant said: ” I know this is a difficult and distressing time for residents, their loved ones and staff at the home. And it is disappointing that this court case continues to rumble on, but the welfare of the residents must be at the forefront.

Regulators are attempting to seize control of a care home which was at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak that has led to 10 deaths and dozens of coronavirus cases on the island.

The Care Inspectorate, which regulates the industry asked a sheriff to strip the care home’s owners, HC-One, of its licence to operate after finding serious shortcomings in its management.

Earlier this week, NHS Highland admitted five hospital patients were discharged to Home Farm Care Home in March before ministers introduced routine testing.

The disclosure was made following questions from Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant.

In a briefing with NHS chiefs, she was told that the transfer happened soon after the Portree facility had sanctions lifted for care failures which had prevented new admissions.

She was told the transfer happened following a risk assessment which found the care home’s staffing levels had improved to an adequate standard.

Health bosses explained they were satisfied that the problem had been significantly addressed so transfers took place for five people to Home Farm. But they said that as soon as there was a suspected case of Covid-19 in Home Farm, the suspension of transfers was reinstated and that remains in place. 

She was also told the transfers took place in March and an updated policy on testing transfers only came out in late April.

Rhoda said: “I am concerned that a care home that had previously been closed to new admissions had this status changed in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At a time when more checks and balances should have been put in place to protect vulnerable people it would appear these had been reduced and people were discharged, untested, to this care home.”