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At General Questions yesterday (6/12/18) in the Scottish Parliament, Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, in relation to the centralisation programme being proposed for Air Traffic Control.
Rhoda Said “ I asked the Cabinet Secretary if the proposal to centralise Air Traffic Control was island proofed, if an impact assessment had been carried out and if he would reverse this decision, which was to base the HIAL Central Air Traffic Control System in Inverness. I advised that if the Inverness Air Traffic Control system could service Benbecula for example, then surely if the system was place in Benbecula it could quite easily service Inverness.
“ I advised the Cabinet Secretary that centralising the Air Traffic Control system in Inverness would not only be bad for the economy of other parts of the Highlands & islands, but it would be bad also for staff and workers. I suggested the funding being set aside for the centralisation of Air Traffic Control could be better spent on the resilience of HIAL airports.
Rhoda Grant concluded “The Cabinet Secretary advised that HIAL have to meet stringent Air Traffic Control regulations and in doing so would have to invest in the right technology and make sure their system was safe above all. However, he seems to have missed my point which was if they decide that having the one central Air Traffic Control base within the HIAL network, then why does it have to be based in Inverness. If this is going to be a state of the art system with the latest technology utilised, then this centralised system could be based in Benbecula or Stornoway or any of the island communities which are in greater need of jobs and the retention of skills. Even better still that all airports in the network retain their own staff but use the remote access to provide cover when necessary.
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Highlands & Islands MSP Rhoda Grant seeks face to face meeting with Cabinet Secretary for Transport over Stromeferry bypass issue
Rhoda Grant MSP is seeking a meeting at the Scottish Parliament with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, to discuss the short, medium and long term issues surrounding the Stromeferry bypass.
Rhoda said ” We are at an impasse now. Highland Council say they cannot afford to fund a long term safety solution to address all the problems associated with the Stromeferry bypass. They have only enough funding set aside to carry out essential remedial work to the rock face each year. Highland Council advise that as a result of the millions they spend on this remedial work each year that other essential services such as Education are missing out. The Government say they cannot help as this is an issue for the Local Authority to deal with as the route (The A890) is not a trunk route. So what we have here is a situation that has gone on and on year after year, a situation that gets kicked into the long grass and no one steps up to the plate to come up with a solution. All the time the route is being used by the public, including school children travelling the route twice per day and no one knows the true extent of the risks other than that they do exist.
I have written to the Government more than once on this issue, I have tabled Parliamentary Questions, I have tried to get the Government to take over responsibility for the road given it is the main route to the Uists and South West Ross, I have had dialogue with Highland Council and all that happens is the issue gets pushed back and fore and no solution is found.
Rhoda continued ” I am determined that this matter is addressed now before anyone is injured or killed on this road. Given that Highland Council covers the largest geographical area of any local authority in the UK, with some 26,484 square km covering a third of Scotland, there are nearly 7,000km of regional roads, I am seeking to meet with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to push hard for a solution to be found, whether that be the Government body, Transport Scotland, adopting this route as a trunk route, or the Government helping out Highland Council with extra funding.
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant, who this year launched an educational leaflet campaign regarding the use of fireworks and the danger to animals, recently lodged a Parliamentary Question asking the Scottish Government whether it plans to make a submission to the UK Government regarding the consultation on the restriction of the sale of fireworks, and what information it has regarding the timeline of the consultation.
In her written answer, the Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham, advised that in September she wrote to the UK Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility to request an update on any actions being taken on Fireworks at Westminster. She was advised that while the Office for Product Safety and Standards are reviewing the guidance material available to consumers on the safe and responsible use of fireworks, no changes to legislation at a UK level are being considered at this time. However, Ash Denham confirmed that the Scottish Government will undertake a consultation on the use and regulations of fireworks in Scotland. This consultation will take place early next year.
Rhoda Grant said ” Every year this issue comes to the fore during the dark winter months and every year we hear about the distress and even death caused to some animals as a result of the use of fireworks by the general public. This year I was supported by the SSPCA and I produced an educational leaflet which was distributed through Vet Practices and Pet shops as well as the SSPCA themselves, highlighting the issues. No one is wanting to spoil anyone’s fun. What I want to encourage is for the general public to attend community public fireworks events and if setting them off near their own homes to first stop and think about the consequences. For example, are their elderly or vulnerable neighbours that you should advise, to prevent scaring them with the loud bangs. Is there pets next door and if so should you tell the neighbours that you are going to set off fireworks in order that they can be prepared to comfort their pets if needs be.
Rhoda concluded, If there is a Government consultation on this issue early next year, then I would urge anyone with a vested interest to make their views known. I will certainly highlight such a consultation once I become aware of it.
At Topical Questions within the Scottish Parliament today (4/12/18) Rhoda Grant, Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, asked the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP, what action the Government was taking in response to Cairngorm Mountain Limited entering administration.
In his response the Cabinet Secretary advised that Cairngorm Mountain was open for business and that the HIE was the lead Agency who were working closely with the Administrators. He advised that the Government had lodged funds with the Administrator which would ensure the business remained open and staff were paid.
Rhoda Grant speaking this afternoon said ” I welcome the work that has been done so far by representatives from HIE and also the fact that the Government have lodged funding with the Administrator to ensure staff still get paid especially with Christmas just around the corner.This was my main concern. However, the Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust and the Save the Ciste campaign have both been pushing for community ownership of Cairngorm to allow for new developments and expansion. The company’s collapse should open the door for a very serious discussion about how local people can take this forward, albeit the unknown quantity is the future of the funicular and the cost of repairs, so I urged the Cabinet Secretary to seriously look at and consider a Community buy out of this business.
” I was advised that HIE were in communications with the Administrator and local groups such as the Funicular Response Group, the local Community Council and other stakeholders and they would look at all options.
“As far as I am concerned we have to protect staff jobs and make sure we keep this excellent asset open over this key period of weeks and months when snow sport brings a massive boost to the local economy. If a Community Buy Out is deemed the best way forward, then I hope that this option will be seriously considered.
Delighted to meet with and talk through the role of MSPs with the 2nd Inverness (Kingsmills) Scout Group