Scottish Government leaves the North to crumble

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, says the SNP Government is leaving the North to crumble.

The MSP again raised the issue of the condition of the roads in the Highlands with the Scottish Government as she highlighted that the roads backlog for repairs in the Highlands this year stands at a staggering £233million.

Minister for Transport, Fiona Hyslop, responded that in 2024-25, Highland Council will receive £582.1 million to fund all local services, which equates to an extra £26.7 million to support vital day to day services, an additional 4.8% compared to 2023-24. The Minister advised that in addition all Councils will receive their fair share of the currently undistributed sum of £365.3 million.

Rhoda Grant said “Hot on the heels of the Scottish Government telling health boards to pause any capital building projects, the Transport Minister tells me that the Council’s total annual budget for this year is little more than twice that which is required to fix our roads.

Mrs Grant was advised by Highland Council in December that the 2023 Headline Backlog for road repairs in the region is £233,631,000 with the 2023 Steady State being £33,990,000.

The MSP continued “My plea to Government was that the repair figure had increased from last year’s figure of £200million and, with Highland Council having the longest road network in Scotland, it stands to reason that they require proportionate resources to allow for the necessary repairs needed.

“I asked the Minister to give the matter consideration and provide Highland Council with the resources they need to carry out the required repairs to the region’s roads before someone gets seriously hurt travelling on roads that are not fit for purpose.

She concluded “I have been ignored as has every driver who is dodging potholes in the region. It’s simply not good enough. Vehicles are being damaged by the potholes and it will only be a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, or worse, driving on our crumbling roads.”

Mrs Grant met with Caithness Roads Recovery (CRR) in August last year to discuss the scale of the problem. CRR Co-Founder, Iain Gregory, said “The county of Caithness is now no more than a patchwork quilt of neglect, an area apparently regarded as being so far from the seat of power in Holyrood, that it can safely be ignored and marginalised, and the needs of the people disregarded. The Scottish Government would do well to note that this is a grave error.

Mr Gregory continued “As our roads, our pavements, our schools across the Highlands, and our infrastructure, crumble before our eyes, and as even the long-promised funding for our desperately needed Healthcare upgrades is snatched away from us, public anger is growing by the day. The time has come for Scotgov to take action – not words, not promises, but action – and action now.”

The picture shows Iain Gregory of CRR and Rhoda inspecting roads in Caithness in August 2023.