Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has again called for a meeting with Scotland’s Transport Minister to press for urgent progress on the dualling of the A9.
Recent statistics show there have been eight deaths on a 25-mile stretch of the road near the Slochd Summit in just three months with fatalities also occurring on other stretches of the road during this time too.
Rhoda Grant said “I continue to have constituents contact me pleading for improvements on the road before anyone else loses a life.
“I am extremely disappointed that the Minister has not yet responded to my request for a meeting and I have contacted her again asking for the opportunity to meet her to discuss the very real need for progress with dualling the rest of this road.
Mrs Grant concluded “If the Scottish Government is to meet it’s 2025 target for completing the dualling it really needs to inject a sense of urgency to move this forward before another family suffers the heart break of losing a loved one.”
Regional Labour MSP is praising RBS for the steps they have taken to make their mobile banking fleet more suitable for those with disabilities.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have released to Mrs Grant what adaptations RBS have made to their mobile banking fleet for those with disabilities.
This includes wheelchair access will be included in the design of all new mobile banks and will be retrofitted into all existing mobile banks. The bank has also installed MyHailo into all vehicles. MyHailo is a key fob that people with a disability can carry and if pressed, it alerts staff within a close by organisation with a MyHailo reader that someone needs assistance. There has also been portable hearing loops installed, adjustments for those with visual impairment and in addition, a handrail is available.
Mrs Grant began investigating how suitable the mobile banking fleet was for those with disabilities back in January 2018. It was announced in December 2017, that 13 banks in the Highlands and Islands region would close.
Mrs Grant said: “After it was announced that RBS would close 13 branches in the Highlands and Islands, I began pressuring the bank to reconsider their decision. I also wrote to the Equality and Human Rights Commission asking them to investigate how suitable the mobile banking fleet was for those with disability and mobility issues.
“It’s encouraging to hear that RBS have taken the necessary steps for those who have disabilities or mobility problems. Obviously, this does not make up for closing the banks in the first place but I do believe that all banks – branches or mobile – should be accessible to all.
Mrs Grant continued: “I would encourage all other banks with mobile banking fleet to make the same necessary adjustments, if not already done so, to their vehicles.”
The cost of private rented housing in the Highlands and Islands has soared, official statistics show.
People across Scotland are being hammered with average mean monthly rents increasing substantially over the last year in many parts of the country.
Recent figures released by the Scottish Government show huge increases across the country, including in the Highlands and Islands, over the past eight years.
• One bedroom properties in Highlands and Islands increased by 13.4% from 2010 to 2018
• Two bedroom properties by 15.8%, a 1.3% rise in 2017/2018
• Three bedroom properties by 19.3%, 2.5% rise in 2017/2018
• Four bedroom properties by 17.5%, a 6.5% rise in 2017/18
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said it was clear that a radical change was needed to end Scotland’s housing crisis.
“I know that working people across the region are struggling to keep up with the rise in private rents and Scotland’s housing crisis is deepening with more people being made homeless,” she said.
“Almost half of all people made homeless last year due to rent arrears fell into debt with a private landlord.
“A Scottish Labour government will cap rent rises with a Mary Barbour law. We will also increase the supply of new homes by building 12,000 new homes for social-rent every year.”
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.
“I am absolutely appalled by the treatment of DeeAnn Fitzpatrick over the review into her case,” said Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.
“There are no two ways about it, it is an absolute cover up and no member of staff should be treated in this way.
“At the very least the First Minister should have invited DeeAnn to a private meeting to discuss the review and the conclusions, but what happened was that a public statement was issued before consulting with DeeAnn.
“I’ve written to the First Minister on a number of occasions asking for a meeting with her and with DeeAnn and I have requested that once again.
“The behaviour that DeeAnn experienced should be called out and not buried and the chapter closed without her seeing the full report.
“DeeAnn’s treatment by the Scottish Government is just abysmal.”