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PRESS RELEASE
26 SEPTEMBER 2000

THREAT TO MATERNITY SERVICES IN CAITHNESS & NORTH SUTHERLAND
The Association views the threatened loss of these services with extreme concern and at the last meeting decided to call strongly on Highland Health Board to guarantee the continued provision of full maternity and paediatric services in Caithness & Sutherland on a permanent basis.  It has been noted that Susan Deacon has intimated that no medical services are to be cut for financial reasons, and can only be changed for reasons of clinical efficiency.  the imposition of a journey of 125 miles and more on pregnant mothers can hardly be described as clinically efficient.  The Arbuthnott Report called on services to be developed and not threatened.  the Scottish Executive's recently trumpeted extra funding for rural areas now makes it quite clear that development should take place.  If Highland health board does not quickly indicate an intention to go down the road we advocate then the Scottish Executive will be seriously lobbied to replace those members on the Health board who are against welfare of mothers and babies in the North.
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Eye On Maternity Pages

ALL HIGHLAND COUNCIL RUBBISH TO GO TO CAITHNESS
The proposal to take inverness's rubbish to Caithness demonstrates the complete failure of Councillors and Senior Officials to plan ahead in a sensible way.  It was obvious before local Government Reoganisation in 1966 that a problem with disposal of waste was looming in the very near future.  Highland Council cannot claim it was not aware of this - it is the successor council to all the District Councils who provide this service before April 1966 - and consists of councillors who in the main were members of those councils.
Highland Council has, by its recent actions, refused to accept solutions to the problem which were to be provided by the private sector AT NO COST TO HIGHLAND COUNCIL TAXPAYERS.  Three planning applications in the past year for landfill sites close to Inverness were turned down.

How can Highland Council now justify the tremendous cost of transporting this waste all the way to the Northern extremity of the area, where the infrastructure to deal with the traffic flow does not exist?  Do they know their own area?  The roads from the railhead at Georgemas to Seater tip are almost all inadequate, single track roads which are often blocked by snow and ice, and not only in winter.

The landfill site at Seater has difficulty dealing with just the waste from Caithness and a part of sutherland and will never satisfy the environmental standards required with the quantity of waste which would be added from Inverness.

The people of Caithness have seen a distinct dropping of standards in the provision of services since Highland Council was formed - it would seem there is one way traffic of council Tax to inverness - and we are now contemplating a one way traffic of rubbish from Inveness.

The above is just one example of the reasons why there is a move by the Association of Community councils in Caithness and some Community councils in sutherland to lobby for the setting up of a North Highland Council based upon the parliamentary constuency of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

THREAT TO AREA COMMITTEES

An Inverness Councillor has recently advocated the curtailing of the activities of Area Committees in the peripheral parts of Highland council in order to save money.  He reckons that we cannot afford decentralisation.

What he does not realise is that if we really had decentralisation and not the current lip service to it then Highland Council would actually save vast sums of money.
How is this possible?  If we had real decentralisation Councillors would only need to go to Inverness two or three times a year (for policy making at regional level) instead of two or three times a week as at present.  All local decisions could be made locally by the Area Committees within the parameters and costs set at HQ.

It has been estimated that the combined costs of councillors and officials travelling to and staying in Inverness totals well over 1million.  The drain on the local Caithness economy should also be recognised - the downgrading of senior posts in Wick has had an effect on housing values, money spent on petrol by those travelling excessively to Inverness, as is the money spent on meals and accommodation - all money paid by Council Tax payers and lost twice to the local economy.

An equivalent loss to the local economy will be occurring in other highland perpheral areas.  If the Inverness Councillor wants to save money he should be advocating the strengthening of decentralisation and NOT is removal.