Levelling Up Fund

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, and Labour Councillor, Jimmy Gray, have briefed the Chair of the Labour Party on their concerns over the Levelling Up funding being allocated to the Highlands and Islands region.


When the Chair of the Party, Anneliese Dodds MP, visited Inverness recently, Mrs Grant and Councillor Gray, took the opportunity to flag the issue up to her.


Mrs Grant has previously written to Michael Gove in the UK Government expressing her disappointment that the councils in the Highlands and Islands region have been placed in levels 2 and 3 of the fund despite the recognition from the EU in the past that the region has specific challenges in terms of geographical scale and sparcity of population. The Levelling Up fund will not amount to the same as the financial support given by the EU in the past.


Anneliese Dodds said ““Again and again we’re seeing that the UK Government has nothing to offer the different parts of our country beyond press releases and empty rhetoric.


“Rather than targeting support to where it is most needed, they’re pitting region against region and town against town to bid for pots of cash from Westminster. And the SNP are taking a similar centralising approach in Holyrood.


“We need a proper plan that will make sure everyone in the country, from the Highlands and Islands to Land’s End, have opportunities on their doorstep and that no-one feels they have to get out of their local area to get on.”


Rhoda Grant said “Rural poverty and depravation do not show up easily in the indicators used by both the Scottish and UK Government, which is largely postcode based. In rural areas the poor live side by side with the very rich and therefore the real disadvantage faced in these communities is hidden.


“In the Highlands and Islands many of these issues are also masked because of the success of some parts of Inverness compared with the rest of the area. Often our young people are forced to leave to seek employment and housing and many areas are extremely fragile because of this.”


Councillor Gray said “It was really refreshing to meet up with a UK politician with a firm grasp of all the challenges facing the Highlands of Scotland and with some really clear ideas of what is needed to try and deal with these issues.


“Anneliese is all too aware of the dangers of centralisation within Scotland and the accompanying risks to the economy and the quality of life of people in the Highlands and Islands. She is also very clear of the responsibilities of the UK Government, particularly considering all the rhetoric about the net benefit for every part of the UK from leaving the EU, much of that hype now looks really so much like empty talk.”


Mrs Grant also cited the Scottish Government’s centralisation agenda as a key factor in these trends. She said “We heard recently that the Scottish Government has vowed to return to Labour policy of dispersing public service jobs throughout the country and yet in Highlands and Islands they are railroading HIAL into centralising Air Traffic Control jobs in Inverness, taking them away from our rural areas, at the same time.


“Put all these factors into the melting pot and it’s painting a pretty grim picture for the economy and infrastructure in the north” continued Rhoda Grant “but Labour will work to have this decision overturned.”



Petition on recruitment and training challenges for rural healthcare

Caithness Health Action Team has lodged a petition “Find solutions to recruitment and training challenges for rural healthcare in Scotland” which is now published and ready to collect signatures.

The petition can be accessed via the following link:-

It is open until 16 September 2021, after which it will be scheduled for consideration by the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee.

Do you have a view on this? If so, please sign up before the deadline next month.

MSP’s ‘shake, rattle and roll’ journey in Caithness

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, was shaken but definitely stirred when she joined Caithness Roads Recovery campaigners in Caithness.

Mrs Grant met Helen Campbell and Iain Gregory on Monday for a tour of some of the worst roads in Thurso.

The MSP has supported the campaign to have local roads resurfaced and repaired as a matter of urgency in Caithness and North West Sutherland and has previously contacted Highland Council and the Scottish Government, joining the concerns of residents.

“You can hear descriptions of the problems, and see photos, but to drive along those roads and see the damage for yourself just brings home what people have been telling me and just what they have been suffering,” said Mrs Grant.

“It was definitely a shake, rattle and rolling time along some roads which residents are refusing or reluctant to use anymore, dodging the potholes and crawling along at a low speed.

“I am happy to support continuing pressure on Scottish Government Ministers and would be willing to sit around the table with cross-party politicians to acknowledge the scale of the problem and solve it.

“Years and years of underfunding by the Scottish Government has led to budget and staff cut-backs and now the gaps are literally beginning to show!”

Mrs Grant also witnessed more traffic on the roads, as many people are opting for a staycation this year and added that, while the area wanted to encouraged tourists it must also ensure that it has the infrastructure to cope with them.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “Caithness Roads Recovery are delighted that Rhoda Grant MSP visited Caithness to see things for herself. We strongly urge the Highland Council and the Scottish Government to sit down and address this crisis as a matter of urgency”


Good news as ground-breaking treatment starts in Scotland

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP,  Rhoda Grant, is congratulating  Inverness constituent Mary Ramsay on her campaign to bring a ground-breaking treatment for Essential Tremor to be brought to Scotland.
The focus ultrasound technology is now installed and is being used on patients and Mrs Ramsay, who has Essential Tremor, has been campaigning for many years to bring the treatment north of the border.
NHS England is now treating patients with Essential Tremor under the national health service.
“I will continue to fight with her for patients in Scotland to be treated on the NHS as they are now in England.. Well done Mary. Almost there!” said Mrs Grant.
More on the treatment here:

Update from Highland Council about progress on new system for Raigmore Interchange

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has now received this update from Highland Council on the progress with a new system at Raigmore Interchange. It has been passed to the constituents concerned:

“Since our last correspondence with David Stewart MSP in November 2019, the Council has been working with Transport Scotland and Sustrans to model and understand the various options at the Interchange to ensure a safe, cohesive route for pedestrians and cyclists to move around the full gyratory. This has involved lengthy traffic modelling using Transport Scotland’s consultant Jacobs, to ensure we understood the impact of full signalisation on the Raigmore Interchange, the time delay for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to cross the junction and for vehicles travelling around.

“You will be aware that the speed limit at the interchange was reduced at the end of 2020 and is now 30mph. In addition, there is an agreed option which is being taken from concept design through to developed design in partnership with Transport Scotland, The Highland Council, and Sustrans. Following Transport Scotland’s Investment Decision Making Board funding review in April 21, Highland Council has received confirmation that £1.14 Million funding is available for the active travel route, including the signalisation of the interchange. This funding will enable pedestrians and cyclists to access all linked active travel routes on their onward journey.

Transport Scotland have confirmed that BEAR Scotland will appoint a team from Jacobs to progress the detailed design of the active travel corridor through Raigmore.  They can complete the design, drawings, specification and contract tender documentation by the end of the calendar year. This team will work in partnership with Transport Scotland, Highland Council and Sustrans to ensure the Active Travel Link is delivered.

Lastly, it appears there may have been some confusion with the Raigmore Active Travel Link project, which links Millburn Road at the interchange up to the Golden bridge, as this new active travel link is due to be completed in September 2021, and will link into Inverness Campus providing a safe alternative route away from the trunk road network.

We intend to keep you and the public informed about the Raigmore Interchange project when it reaches the construction phase. It has already been agreed that we will provide you with an update by week commencing 19th July.”


Former husband of woman who died in crossing accident angry at delay in work at Raigmore Interchange


The former husband of the woman pedestrian who died after an accident at Raigmore Interchange has contacted Labour MSP Rhoda Grant expressing his anger at the lack of a firm date when a new traffic light crossing is set be installed there.

The man, who does not want to be named, has been pressing Transport Scotland for improved safety at the roundabout over the years since the accident.

The agency has moved to put up new signage, landscaping and a reduced speed limit on the roundabout and the roads feeding into it.

However, Highland Council, the lead authority on a new Raigmore Interchange scheme, has said it is putting together a programme of replacement for the 12 sets of junction and pedestrian crossings in Inverness, due to be completed within this financial year, and Raigmore Interchange is included and will be one of the first few to be addressed.

But it adds: “At this time we can give no further specific detail on dates as we still have work to do on materials and contractor availability.”

Mrs Grant, who represents the Highlands and Islands, said the lack of a definite date and the number of years since the woman’s death on the southbound A9 slip-road has angered her former husband and leaves the MSP concerned too.

“My Labour colleague, David Stewart, who retired as an MSP at the election, did a lot of work on this issue, meeting Transport Scotland and council officials, asking questions and contacting Police Scotland on constituents’ behalf,” she said.

“People are still concerned about safety there and her former husband is very angry about the delay and you can understand why.

“Surely, it is time to give a date and stick to it? After all, this has been going on for years and we still haven’t seen a solution to the south bound slip-road having no pedestrian crossing linked to traffic lights to stop the traffic flow and make it safer.”

Previously, Transport Scotland said that traffic lights could be installed at all four entry points to the roundabout under a planned new scheme, which would provide “an equitable split in green time between vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists”.

It added that what the system would provide, at all times, in the traffic light cycle was a green man phase for pedestrians to cross each traffic flow safely in turn.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, speaks in debate on maternity services highlighting Moray and Caithness

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, supported a Scottish Parliament cross-party members’ debate yesterday about the downgrading of the consultant-led maternity unit at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

“It is a huge disappointment that the service at Dr Gray’s has not been reinstated, and we need to see more tangible action now,” she said.

“I pay tribute to the Keep MUM group, which has led the campaign to restore the service. I wish the group well and offer my support to its campaign until we get the services reinstated at Dr Gray’s.”

She said the Scottish Government must carry the responsibility for the situation.

“It has failed to train sufficient staff to enable women to give birth closer to home. It needs to turn the situation around and ensure that medics are trained—and, more important, trained in a rural setting,” she said.

Mrs Grant also mentioned the same service was no longer available at Caithness General. She has campaigned for many years to highlight and resolve the concerns of the community and pregnant women, many of whom are faced with a 200-mile round trip to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

“The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion, with the mother surrounded by her partner and family,” she told MSPs.

“It is not an illness; it is a life event that requires to be cherished. That is why giving birth in the setting that the mother desires, with access to family, is crucial.

“We all know that things can go wrong and that intervention can be required to save both mother and child. Having obstetricians and paediatricians on hand to intervene at short notice gives confidence to parents and to midwives.

“That should be the case in Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin. Indeed, it was the case until staffing shortages forced what was supposed to be a temporary change. Unfortunately, three years later, the change appears to be permanent.”

She added: “The service is no longer available at the Caithness general either, and there appears to be no will on the part of NHS Highland to look again at the matter.

“The issue is the lack of paediatricians. When the situation in Caithness was assessed, it was suggested that obstetric support alone might lead to a delay in transfer in an emergency, which would mean that a baby who was born in difficult circumstances would not have paediatric support.

“The lack of both sets of professionals is forcing women in labour who get into difficulty to be transferred by ambulance while they are in labour.

“Many women in that situation have given birth in even more dangerous circumstances. The case of the twins who were born in two different counties illustrates that; only the quick thinking and dedication of staff saved the day.

“The alternative is inductions and elective caesarean sections, which are not without risk. There has been a marked increase in those procedures. Risk assessments are needed in relation to the increase in caesarean sections and the risks of travel while in labour, especially on poor roads in wintry conditions.”

Mrs Grant added: “In the interim, the Government needs to consider how to get specialists to the mother and baby, rather than expecting a mother in labour to travel to services. It needs to enable ScotSTAR—the Scottish specialist transport and retrieval service, which provides emergency stabilisation and retrieval—to consider how it can extend the service to obstetric and associated paediatric support.”


  • MSP Douglas Ross’s members’ business debate was on the motion

That the Parliament understands with concern that, following a decision in July 2018 to downgrade the consultant-led maternity unit at Dr Gray’s in Elgin, many local expectant mums have to travel out of Moray to give birth; praises the efforts of midwives and all the staff who provide an outstanding service for those who can give birth there, but believes that too many women are made to travel outwith Moray to give birth; understands that the Scottish Government has commissioned an independent review of maternity services at Dr Gray’s to consider how best to restore the consultant-led service; commends the Keep MUM group and the local campaigners who are fighting hard to have the service restored; understands that the community was originally told that the downgrade would be temporary for up to a year, but notes that, almost three years on, the service has still not been restored, and notes the calls on the Scottish Government and NHS Grampian to urgently seek a resolution to this issue and to provide families in Moray with the locally-based maternity services that they deserve.

Rhoda Grant MSP calls for lessons to be learned as 104 die from Covid in the region’s care homes

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has called for lessons to be learned as statistics have revealed the number Covid-related deaths in care homes across the Highlands and Islands. (including Moray)

Statistics from the Care Inspectorate have revealed that between 16th of March 2020 and the 21st of March 2021, 104 Covid-related deaths were recorded in care homes across the region.

All 104 Covid-related deaths were recorded in care homes that exist solely for the care of older people.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has called for lessons to be learned from the tragic deaths so that the people of the Highlands and Islands are kept safe in any future pandemic.

Commenting, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said:  

“What happened in Scotland’s care homes during the pandemic was a tragedy.

“Those responsible in government must be held to account and lessons must be learned.

“Our heroic care home and NHS staff went above and beyond during the pandemic, and our relative low numbers of deaths compared to other regions is testament to their work.

“However, the 104 Covid-related deaths that occurred in Highlands and Islands care homes were tragic.

“But not only must those responsible be held to account, we also need reform of our care system and a National Care Service.

“That’s why Scottish Labour will continue to fight for the people of the Highlands and Islands and I will continue to call for reform of our care system.”  

Regional MSP submits parliamentary motion to congratulate Shopper-Aide  

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP has submitted a Parliamentary Motion to congratulate Shopper-Aide in Campbeltown for being honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.


Shopper-Aide are one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups who have been honoured with this award – which is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.


Mrs Grant visited the charity back in the summer of 2018 and she learned about the charity and the work that they do. Since then, she has remained supportive of the charity and has given her written support for funding.


Rhoda Grant said: “This charity are so deserving of this award and I’m proud of all of the volunteers. When I visited them back in 2018, I felt so inspired by the staff and volunteers and their commitment to fighting isolation in the Kintyre area. This charity is truly an asset to the area.”


Mrs Grant continued: “Isolation in an issue nationally, especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is particularly concerning in rural areas where resources are limited. To see a charitable organisation tackle this issue head on and for that to be recognised is great to see.”


Shopper-Aide helps those over 60 who suffer from isolation by offering shopping services, housekeeping and by planning social activities like Elderberries where clients meet up  for lunch and take part in activities like art and crafts, quizzes and bingo.

Motion Number: S6M-00239
Lodged By: Rhoda Grant
Date Lodged: 03/06/2021

Title: Shopper-Aide, Campbelltown, Awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Motion Text:

That the Parliament congratulates Shopper-Aide in Campbeltown on it being honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award that a UK voluntary group can receive; notes that it is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive this prestigious award in 2021; understands that its volunteers help people aged over 60 with shopping and housekeeping and hold social activities in the Kintyre area to tackle isolation; congratulates everyone involved with this work, and wishes them, and Shopper-Aide, all the best for the future.