North last in line for R100 contract

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has expressed disappointment at the North of Scotland coming last in the delivery of the R100 contracts.

Responding to a government initiated question, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, advised that Procurement for R100 has been split into three lots – North, Central and South – with funding allocated to each. The Minister advised that BT plc were the only bidder for the Central and South lots, and that, subject to due diligence and governance, the Scottish Government intends to proceed to contract with BT as soon as possible.

The Minister however also advised that more than one bid was received for the North and they will announce a preferred bidder in due course.

Rhoda Grant said “It is disappointing as the North arguably requires investment in connectivity before the central belt does. The market provides competitive broadband in the central belt however the same cannot be said in the North where we have some of the lowest broadband connections in the country.

Mrs Grant concluded “I will continue to press the Minister to proceed with awarding the North contract as soon as is practicably possible.”



To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, Rhoda Grant MSP attended a reception in Holyrood, to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors in the Highlands and Islands on the Anthony Nolan register.

This achievement was marked by Anthony Nolan on Thursday 19 September, as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign, which shines a spotlight on vital work being done locally to ensure that every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.

In the Highlands and Islands 8,187 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan. 23% of these donors are men aged 16-30, and the average age is 33.

In total, more than 760,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.

Now, Mrs Grant is encouraging more people from the Highlands and Islands, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate. They provide more than 50% of donations yet make up just 18% of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Mrs Grant also had the chance to meet with representatives of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) including Ally Boyle. Ally initiated a groundbreaking partnership with Anthony Nolan in 2009, while he was Area Commander of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, after being diagnosed with myelodysplasia (a type of blood cancer). They have recruited thousands of lifesavers to the register, predominantly through their innovative SFRS Education Programme, which sees SFRS volunteers deliver inspiring educational presentations about stem cell, blood and organ donation to 16- to 18-year-olds across Scotland.

Rhoda Grant said: “I am very proud that the Highlands and Islands has 8,187 potential donors on the register, any one of whom could offer the only chance of giving someone with blood cancer a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I would especially like to commend the great work of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in engaging local communities, particularly secondary schools across Scotland. They’ve recruited more than fifty people who have gone on to donate. Their steadfast commitment over the past ten years has had a truly lifesaving impact.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “In the last year 1,323 selfless people from the Highlands and Islands joined the Anthony Nolan register, each one representing hope for patients with blood cancer, and blood disorders, in need of matching stem cell donors.

“This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. To everyone from the Highlands and Islands who has taken the decision to join the register, thank you. We rely on young people aged 16-30 joining the register now to save lives in the future. Without you, there is no cure.”

For more information on Anthony Nolan visit

Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journeys.


MSP Rhoda Grant joins volunteers for the Great British Beach Clean

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant MSP joined the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and volunteers yesterday (23.09.19) to help clean the beach at Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain.

The Great British Beach Clean is the biggest annual beach clean-up and survey in the UK and is organised by the Marine Conservation Society. The event is now in its 26th year. Last year, 2,913 Scottish volunteers took part, removing an incredible 75,807 individual items of litter at 135 beach cleans along 15,680 metres of Scottish coastline.

Mrs Grant said: “We live in such a beautiful part of the world with such a wonderful variety of sea life. I think it is vital that we protect our beaches and the animals who live in our seas, lochs and firths from litter – especially from plastic waste.

“It was great to join volunteers to clean the beach at Glenmorangie. Many things were found that just do not belong on the beach such as metal and cans. I would encourage anyone when on a beach to keep an eye out and pick up anything that shouldn’t be there.”

Mrs Grant joined the citizen science project to help clear and survey the litter found on the beach at Glenmorangie. Data collected by volunteers from over 25 years of MCS-led Great British Beach Cleans has been instrumental in the introduction of Scotlands 5p single-use carrier bag charge, commitments to implement a ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds and to introduce a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans.


MSP has praised RBS for adjustments made to mobile banking fleet

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.”

Rhoda Grant MSP Member for: Highlands and Islands
Party: Scottish Labour 26 April 2017 . Pic – Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

sheep farming debate – 14.05.19

On Tuesday, I spoke at the Sheep Farming Debate with the view that a new subsidy regime must be in place as soon as possible.
You can see my question to the Minister of Rural Affairs and Natural Enviroment and her answer below.

Public Advice Surgery

I’m holding a Public Advice Surgery in Stornoway on the 25th January 2019 between 3pm-4pm. If you have any concerns you would like to raise with me, please come along.