26 December 05
HIGHLAND MSP CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILIES OF MIGRANT WORKERS
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has spoken of the
need for language support for the children of migrant workers settling
in the Highlands as a part of the Fresh Talent Initiative.
Mrs Macmillan commented," I have been concerned for some time about the
lack of support for the children of migrant workers coming to the
Highlands. Many of those coming to the area are from former eastern
block countries, but we are also receiving workers from many other parts
of the world. It is an absolute necessity for the children of these
incoming workers to learn English as soon as possible to help them
integrate into the community. I am aware that there are initiatives for
the workers themselves, being undertaken by Highlands and Islands
Enterprise, Highland Council and employers. However, it seems to be more
problematical to support the workers' children, as the families are
spread out across our community. Children are enrolling at various small
schools in the Highlands, arriving without warning and causing obvious
difficulties for the education service, which has to provide them with
The initial need is for English language instruction and this has had an
increasing impact on both education and adult learning services. In
recent months I have written to Highland Council, the First Minister and
Minister for Education over this issue to try and ensure suitable
linguistic support is in place in our schools. In Glasgow, the council
received central government aid to accommodate an influx of the children
of asylum seekers and I consider that Highland Council needs similar
support. The council's education budget cannot realistically be expected
to cope with the growing level of workers' children arriving in the
Highlands from non-English speaking areas.
At First Minister's Question Time I asked the First Minister whether he
agreed that the growing number of children of migrant workers needing
specialist English language support at school may not have been fully
recognised in the funding for additional support learning. I called on
the Executive to monitor the increasing need for such specialist English
language support in areas under pressure, such as the Highland Council
area and to see whether there may be a need for extra funding for the
education services. The First Minister acknowledged that this is a
serious issue and welcomed the benefits that workers who come to our
country bring to our economy and society. He suggested that I raise the
funding concerns with the Minister of Education, Peter Peacock; with
whom I have since had a preliminary discussion enquiringabout new
sources of funding.
Similarly, there must be sufficient housing and other infrastructure
available to cater for these workers. Some 400 migrant from Poland alone
have moved in recent times to the Inverness area. These newcomers are
most welcome and will fill jobs that are currently vacant. Some also
have professional qualifications and can be utilised in the
healthservice and elsewhere.
Mrs Macmillan added, "The present influx of workers and their children
from Eastern Europe and elsewhere is part of the population and economic
growth the Highlands is currently experiencing. It is essential that the
English learning and other appropriate support for the incoming workers
and their children is robust and well funded. I will be communicating
further with both the Education Minister and Highland Council on this
26 December 05
Gibson Backs Chef Rick Stein's Message On Local Produce
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion in
parliament calling on the Scottish Executive to give wholehearted
support for production and consumption of high quality, locally produced
food. Mr Gibson believes that due to changes in lifestyles, local food
production will become more important in future and believes that the
current deal for small scale local producers and the lack of locally
based processing facilities hinders the amount that a communities can
Mr Gibson said....
"I am in complete agreement with food campaigner and chef Rick Stein
that people should buy as much local produce as they can. In the future
a greater emphasis will inevitably be put on smaller scale local
production. This is why the Highlands and Islands and Scotland should be
prepared for that time. At the moment we have an infrastructure which is
geared to large scale production and central distribution and transport
costs which discriminate against producers in remote and rural areas."
"The executive must take the lead. For example support is needed for
small mobile abattoirs throughout Scotland. This would lessen the need
for mass transportation thus saving costs, improving the environment as
well as the welfare of the animals and the quality of meat for the
public. However faced with these clear cut and sensible arguments places
like Skye still do not have a local abattoir." "Transport issues
are key to producers in remote and rural communities especially islands.
In recent months we have seen how taking goods to the mainland and
center is a cause for much concern whether that be mutton from Shetland,
organically farmed salmon from the Western Isles or shell fish from Loch
Eriboll. Given the fact that all Scottish ferry routes are coming up to
tender in the next year I hope that the Executive takes into
consideration what each bidder policy will be to transporting food
stuffs from local producers on the islands to the mainland."
"This Christmas I hope that the Scottish Executive will make a
commitment to small local producers and start to help them earn a living
from the land which would in turn help support and enrich communities,
while offering them a healthier diet. This motion merely recognizes that
in the availability of local high quality food is not only desirable but
essential. What we need from the powers-that-be is action to make
surethat we are ready for that future."
22 December 05
Mary Scanlon MSP Hopes Lesson On Ferry Across Pentland Firth Will Be
Following the release of the Audit Scotland report on the Ferry Service
from Scrabster To Orkney which has had £71 million of subsidies in three
years to enable it to keep going Mary Scanlon MSP hopes lessons will be
Commenting on the Auditor General's report on the Northlink Ferry
services contract, Mary Scanlon MSP commented; 'People and businesses in
Orkney have been fully aware of the problems relating to the tendering
process, and leading up to the appointment of Northlink in December
2000. "I hope that the Transport Minister will now take the necessary
time to take on board the points raised in the Auditor' General's
report. "I hope that lessons have been learned from this flawed contract
bidding process and that the Minister will reflect on just how much
taxpayers money has had to be poured into Northlink in recent years. "I
trust that the Minister will also meet with Pentland Ferries, who
successfully carry passengers, cars and livestock across the Pentland
Firth with no subsidy whatsoever from the public purse."
NorthLink Ferry Services Auditor Report
29 November 05
HIGHLAND MSP SPEAKS IN SUPPORT OF MICRO-RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGY
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has spoken in the
Scottish Parliament during a debate on promoting energy saving using
micro and small-scale renewables technology.
Mrs Macmillan commented," To date, too much
of the debate on renewables has been about the size of wind farms and
the impact of pylons. We must recognise the role that individual
households, groups of households and small businesses can play and their
need for affordable energy.
Some may be driven by increasing
conventional fuel costs and the grants already available to switch to
renewables but we can't afford to wait for builders or individual
householders to decide on the basis of financial benefit. Micro-renewables
need to be made part of all new developments and there is a huge
opportunity to do more in the next few years, given that we plan to
build thousands of new homes.
The present central heating scheme for
pensioners is excellent, but I would ask the Scottish Executive to
consider whether, at least in rural areas, micro-renewables could be
used as an alternative to the oil option, which is becoming expensive,
particularly in the islands, where oil prices are exacerbated by
transport costs. The option in rural areas of oil or nothing for
pensioners who want central heating seems to be building up trouble for
Support and encouragement for micro-renewables
will lead to other benefits. The market for micro-renewables is not yet
big enough to tempt businesses to invest and small wind turbines are
still too expensive, compared with conventional means of generation, for
householders to buy. Five years from now, those devices will be
affordable, because the higher the volume of production the cheaper the
item. Measures should be taken so that the market for devices will grow
to the benefit of the suppliers and householders will generate their own
energy and possibly feed some of that into the gird. If we combine
renewables with energy efficiency, we can make a real contribution to
reducing carbon emissions."
Mrs Macmillan added,"Recent rises in
conventional energy prices have reaffirmed the need to look at how we
use energy and can cut our CO2 emissions - as well as ensuring power
sources for the future. Micro-renewable technology, improved insulation
and solar panels all have a role to play and should be the norm in our
new housing. The technology however, does have to be affordable and
introduced without further delay."
29 November 05
"Changes needed to keep
light's shining in Glens" - Gibson
New Crofts, increased emphasis on land economy and a more equal
distribution of EU funding will help keep lights shining in the glens
during the 21st century according to Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob
Mr Gibson comments came after he met with
crofters from Inverness-shire and Ross-shire last week at Daviot (Friday
25/11/5). He said...."It is clear to me after listening to the crofters,
that, if the Scottish Executive are serious about making life in the
deprived areas of the Highlands and Islands sustainable then they must
make sure that it worth people's while to live there. That means making
sure that there are fair prices for food. That grants are made available
to promote eco-tourism and that a sea change is needed in the direction
of EU farming subsidies."
He continued... "Food and fuel security will be the pressing issues for
future generations and crofting can help secure both those needs if they
are given the means to do so. The Executive must start to promote the
land economy by recognising that it is a key asset not just for the
Highlands and islands but also the country as a whole. A fair price for
good quality local traceable food stuffs now could go some way to saving
crofting in the future which could in turn sustain Scotland in thefuture."
"Around 80% of EU farming subsidies in
Scotland goes to 20% of the farmers. This figure is grossly
anachronistic and even more so when you consider that the majority of
those 20% are farmers that own vast tracts of land. Instead of trying to
reduce CAP costs Tony Blair should focus on where EU farming subsidies
are distributed and try and make it fairer for crofters and small
holders. If this is allowed to continue the least favoured areas will
He ended "This is my second in the series of meetings with Crofters
through out the Highlands and Islands and already there is a pattern
emerging. What is clear is that crofting communities want change.
However the changes as outlined in the proposed crofting bill are well
wide of the mark. Crofters want, a fair deal and fair regulation to help
realise the potential that their way of life offers them and the rest of
As part of Mr Gibson's series of meeting he will be visiting Lochcarron
Friday 9th, Appin Monday 12th and Sconser (Isle of Skye) on Friday 16th
16 November 05
Homeless Reform causing anger in Highland
Scottish Conservative Communities Spokesman Mary Scanlon MSP has
expressed her serious concerns that the Executive's policies on
homelessness are causing "increased resentment" and "extreme anti-social
behaviour" in some rural communities.
Speaking in a Parliamentary debate, Mary
cited Argyll and Bute Council's allocation of 80% of Lets to those
designated as homelessness, commenting; "This is causing a great deal of
anger from those on the main housing waiting list who are aware that
their opportunity of being allocated a house has greatly reduced since
the legislation was introduced in 2002"
Argyll and Bute Council has stated that
'this is not going to help us create balanced communities.'
Mary added that the changes implemented in
2002 had seen an initial 59% increase in those assessed as homeless in
the Highlands Council area, and further 15% rise in 2004-05, with the
expectation that four out of eight areas in the Council region will now
be unable to meet the 2012 target of eradicating homelessness.
"The numbers on Highland Council's Housing
waiting list continue to rise while the number of Lets that are being
allocated continues to fall," the Highlands and Islands MSP added.
"The council states that in areas with no
social housing and very few registered social landlord properties being
built, the stigmatisation and resentment of homeless households, who
many perceive to be 'jumping the queue', is already common and likely to
"In my surgery work, I have become aware of
the situation leading to bullying and, in some cases, extreme and
persistent antisocial behaviour.
"The local connection requirement in
homelessness applications will be suspended in 2006, and that will
surely have an effect on homelessness applications.
"In places such as Glencoe, Ballachulish,
Ardnamurchan and the Kyle of Lochalsh, it will certainly result in far
greater resentment. Many local people cannot understand why people who
come into the area get a house before someone whose family has lived
there for generations gets one. That feeling comes through very strongly
from the Highlands and from Argyll and Bute."
See Also -
SAFEGUARDING AFFORDABLE HOMES IN THE
Right To Buy Council Houses Suspended In Pressure Areas
Caithness and Sutherland Not Affected By This Decision
16 November 05
Gibson Backs Labelling proposal
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has backed a proposal that, if
implemented, would see beef sold in restaurants and other food outlets
clearly labelled with its' country of origin. Mr Gibson says that
labelling for beef makes good sense.... "This would benefit both beef
producers and consumers. Scotland produces top quality near organic beef
and has a world wide reputation for excellence. I think that the
majority of people who eat beef in a restaurant or buy it in a
supermarket would expect it to be good quality locally produced meat. If
beef was labelled as coming from Scotland then I firmly believe that
there would be increases in sales of Scottish beef."
He continued.... "I believe that labelling for beef should only be the
beginning. All foodstuffs that are sold should also be marked with the
country and farm of origin. The agriculture industry in Scotland has a
good reputation and it needs all the help that it can muster. I believe
that labelling can act as a catalyst for Scottish farming that would
help improve its image and product which has been badly disadvantaged by
unfair competition from cheap untraceable imports in recent years."
15 November 05
"Cases only tip of Highlands and Islands heating problem iceberg" Says
MSP Jamie McGrigor
An MSP has been inundated with pleas for help from people in the
Highlands and Islands waiting to get work done as part of a national
heating scheme. Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor is now dealing with over
80 cases where work on heating systems under the Scottish Executive's
Warm Deal and Central Heating programmes has not been carried out. Jamie
McGrigor said "I am dealing with more than 80 cases to do with
applications in the Highlands and Islands but my concern is that this is
just the tip of the iceberg. "While there has been some movement
on some cases, who knows how many more cases there are? Who knows how
many elderly and vulnerable people in the Highlands and Islands face a
cold winter without adequate heating because of the Scottish Executive's
failure to ensure full delivery of its schemes? "Constituents have
experienced significant delays in getting work done; there has been
shoddy or even dangerous workmanship in some cases; and people have
simply been denied such work on dubious grounds. "One constituent says
that she feels that she is living in a "danger zone", another has waited
two years just for electric heaters to be installed. A Caithness
woman was told that she could not go on the scheme because she
already had heating-a 20-year-old peat-burning Rayburn. "The Executive
is always quick to congratulate itself but it should also take
responsibility when things are not working. Although there are many
cases in which work has been delivered successfully, there are just too
many in which constituents have experienced real and potentially
dangerous problems. "The Executive must act now to ensure that continued
support is available for those who need assistance in upgrading their
heating systems and in improving the energy efficiency of their homes,
but it must also ensure a far better delivery of the schemes".
15 November 05
NORTH MSP HAILS NEW TELEHEALTH CENTRE
AND VIRTUAL SCHOOL OF RURAL HEALTHCARE
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has hailed the
announcement by Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald of a new centre
for Telehealth and a Virtual School of Rural Healthcare for the
Highlands. Both the new services were recommended by the Kerr Report
into NHS provision. Speaking today Mrs Macmillan said, "I am
delighted by this announcement. Health provision in large rural
areas, such as the Highlands, will always involve logistical and other
problems. The new initiatives will see a new Centre for Telehealth
created which will allow patients to obtain easier and quicker
diagnosis. The new health focus will be much more on community health
care and technology is integral to improving service provision over a
range of health issues. Telemedicine is already in use in the Highlands
but this will see an expansion of the technology which can only benefit
patient care and mitigate against the problems of distance and rurality.
The Virtual School of Rural Healthcare will be central to the training
of rural health care professionals across the Highlands, allowing them
to receive practical experience on the wards and in communities whilst
at the same time having access to high quality training facilities."
Mrs Macmillan added, "Health service provision in the Highlands has to
involve new ways of looking at the difficulties presented by our
geographical location and I am sure the two new projects, announced by
the minister and due to be set up within the next three years, will have
a considerable positive impact."
service improvements in the Highlands
BUILDING A HEALTH SERVICE FIT FOR THE FUTURE Volume 2: A guide for the
12 November 05
McGrigor Calls For More Information On Undersea Power Lines Option
Jamie McGrigor has again hit out at the threat of giant pylons being
sited in the Highlands. The Conservative MSP has called for more
information on whether the cables could be run subsea. Mr McGrigor also
backed a call by his party's Deputy Leader Murdo Fraser for a public
inquiry into the planning application for the 400kV Beauly to Denny
power line. Jamie McGrigor said "I back Murdo's call for the
Scottish Executive to launch a public inquiry into the planning
application by Scottish and Southern Energy. "Like many people in
the Highlands and Islands, I am horrified by the number and sheer size
of the new pylons that could be erected throughout the Highlands.
"If a subsea cable is planned to take electricity from Lewis to the
Scottish mainland, could it not stay subsea until it gets nearer to
where most of the electricity will be used. "I fully appreciate
that there are considerable extra costs associated with this option,
however the unknown health concerns over pylons should mean it is at
least fully considered. I would certainly like to see more information
on its feasibility". Mr McGrigor also called on the Scottish
Executive to encourage micro wind turbines, which provide on-site
generation of electricity. This, he said, would allow properties or
communities in remoter areas to become more energy independent.
"Unobtrusive small systems, which make individual houses and buildings
energy independent or at least partly independent and save CO2
emissions, should be an important part of future energy policy".
'Greenock incident shows dangers of downgrading' GIBSON
Highlands and islands SNP MSP has pointed to a tragic at incident at
Inverclyde midwife led maternity unit as a reason why Caithness
maternity services should be maintained with consultant back up.
His comments come in
the wake of a statement made from Sheriff John Herald saying that a baby
who died at birth in the midwife led maternity in Greenock had received
a 'second class service' compared with those born in Paisley.
June Watt had been due
to give birth at the consultant led Paisley maternity unit however she
went into labour quickly and could not make the 20 or so miles trip to
Paisley in time. The baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped
around her neck and died shortly after.
Mr Gibson said...."This is an extremely tragic incident and the solution
to Caithness Maternity service provision cannot ignore this case. Every
life is precious so NHS Highland needs to heed the best means to make
specialist clinical judgment and advice available for such emergencies
in the Far North.
"What this incident and
comments from the sheriff makes clear is that a midwife-led service can
cope well with regular deliveries but consultant back-up on the spot is
McGrigor: "Don't ignore irresponsible fireworks use"
MSP Jamie McGrigor has called for the strict enforcement of rules
regarding the sale and use of fireworks. Around 1,000 people are
hospitalised every year in Scotland, with 5% of cases leading to
hospital stays of a night or more. The Conservative MSP urged the public
to contact the police when fireworks were being used dangerously in
their area. Jamie McGrigor said "Fireworks can provide fantastic
entertainment for families and children, providing exciting, and if
properly organised, safe fun for all. "However, it seems some people are
intent on making Bonfire Night lasts for weeks, causing untold misery to
some people and pets alike with noise and anti-social behaviour
throughout the night.
"The public, along with Northern Constabulary and retailers, can work
together to ensure that fireworks are enjoyed safely in the Highlands
and Islands and to help reduce the around one thousand people per year
taken to hospital in Scotland.
The amended Fireworks Regulations of 2004 banned the sale of air bombs,
mini-rockets and bangers, whilst placing stricter controls on rockets.
It is also illegal to sell fireworks to people under the age of
Mr McGrigor continued "The laws already exist to prosecute people for
breaking the law with fireworks, with fines of up to £5000 for those
convicted of throwing or setting off fireworks in a public place and
with those caught using fireworks to cause unnecessary suffering to
animals facing substantial fines as well as imprisonment of up to six
"We must deter the kind of irresponsible and dangerous use of fireworks
that seems to have been on the increase in recent years".
Moray Tories select Mary Scanlon MSP as Candidate
At a packed meeting on Friday 28 October Moray Conservatives selected
Mary Scanlon MSP as their candidate for the next Scottish Parliamentary
Speaking after her selection Mary said, "The Moray seat is the first to
be selected in the Highlands & Islands and I am honoured and delighted
to be the candidate. I look forward to continuing to work with the
people of Moray and to winning back this important seat for the Scottish
Mary Scanlon was elected to represent the Highlands and Islands region
in the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and again in 2003.
Amongst those attending Friday's meeting was Peter Duncan, Chairman of
the Scottish Conservative Party, who said, "Mary has been an outspoken
advocate for the region in the Scottish Parliament - she will be a real
fighter for Moray!"
David Boyd, who is the local party Chairman, expressed his delight at
Mary's selection and went on "The Scottish Conservative Party are
focused on winning the seat in May 2007. We have the support of the
Party Chairman and the Board and our local members are determined to
succeed in giving Moray's electors the heavy weight representation they
deserve at Holyrood"
GIBSON BACKS FARMER'S STRIKE
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP has backed striking farmers at the
begging of their 3 day protest against the low prices paid to them by
Supermarkets. Mr Gibson also went onto say that the Government had
a duty intervene to make sure that Scottish farmers and crofters are
subject to fair trade. "The farmers' action should be supported to
expose a scandal of Government non-intervention." "The growing
crisis for home producers requires much more than honeyed words
from Scottish Ministers. They must tell London enough is enough.
Supermarket profiteering must be curbed by statute not voluntary codes.
The SNP backs a new Competition Commission enquiry to curb profiteering
by the big four supermarkets and encourage the production of more home
2 November 05
Crofting minister raises more questions than answers
'More questions raised than resolved' was how Highlands and Islands
SNP MSP Rob Gibson summed up this morning's meeting of the Environment
and Rural Development Committee which cross-questioned Crofting Minister
She was answering questions on the
controversial proposals for the draft Crofting Bill consultation.
However Mr Gibson said that after questioning the minister he is still
dissatisfied with the Bill and the way in which it is going....
"Rhona Brankin did not give the assured
response that the Crofting Communities were looking for. I questioned
her on interposed leases which could see former estate owners raking in
revenue from renewable energy even if the land is sold to crofting
communities. Her response was she had yet to meet Prof. Paisley of
Aberdeen University, whose opinion is that existing powers in the
Crofting Acts make interposed leases illegal. Mrs Brankin said that a
meeting well happen to resolve the issue, but stipulated no date and did
not expand on the issue interposed leases. She announced no interim
measures which leaves community buyouts across Scotland in limbo. She
also failed to answer why it took so long for the loophole to be
Mr Gibson also raised the point that while
a current tenant can buy their croft for 15 times the annual rent. The
same right is not afforded for those wishing to take over a deceased
"This is a case of double standards, should
the child of a deceased crofter wish to take over their father's or
mother's croft then they probably have to pay the market rate because
the crofter's estate is valued using market values for land in the area.
The Bill does not address these issues but I will watch with interest to
see what if any changes are made to speed a solution."
Mr Gibson also pledged to continue
listening to crofters and called for the Environment Committee to do the
same. He has arranged a series of meetings with crofters, in Rogart,
Loch Carron, Daviot, Sconcer, and hopes to arrange more to listen to
"In the 1880's MP's traveled the Highlands
and Islands listening
to the troubles and hardships of the crofter's and cottars. This lead to
the 1886 Crofting Act which gave security of tenure. All MSP's who care
about the future of crofting should do the same."
30 September 05
HIGHLAND MSP RAISES A9 SUPERMARKET LORRY TRAFFIC IN PARLIAMENT
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has raised the issue
of supermarket lorries using the A9 to supply major supermarket outlets
in the North. Speaking in the Scottish Parliament. Mrs Macmillan
highlighted the decision by Wm Morrison, who have recently taken over
and refurbished a store in Inverness, not to continue using the Freight
Facilities Grant operated by their predecessor Safeway. The grant gives
funding to companies to remove their goods vehicles from the road and
use rail transport instead.
commented, "I was very disappointed with the decision by Wm Morrison
Supermarkets not to continue to use the Freight facilities Grant. It had
been operated successfully by Safeways removing millions of lorry miles
from Scottish roads. I raised the issue in Parliament with Transport
Minister Tavish Scott who reiterated the Executive's commitment to move
road freight to rail, particularly on roads such as the A9.
distribution centres are located in the central belt of Scotland or
further south. The transportation of goods by large commercial vehicles
on roads such as the A9 has implications for road safety (through driver
frustration) and the environment, as well as wearing out the road
Morrisons as a company
say they have a firm commitment to the environment, which makes the
decision not to utilise the FFG all the more surprising. I have written
to the Managing Director of Morrisons with my concerns, strongly urging
the company to reconsider its decision not to take up the FFG. I have
also written in similar terms to the Managing Director of Tesco, who
have a major presence in the North and who are currently testing the
viability of rail distribution in a trial at Inverness."
Mrs Macmillan added,
"The large supermarkets are an important part of our local
infrastructure and provide many essentials for day-to-day life. They
should be given every encouragement to use the FFG and remove their
lorries from our congested roads and I am more than willing to raise any
practical concerns they have over making the switch to rail freight with
the Transport Minister."
22 September 05
Bold Step needed to improve A9 safety
Mary Scanlon MSP yesterday called for the "Bold step" to dual the
carriageway from Perth to Inverness, as the only step which can prevent
some of the horrendous experiences that many drivers encounter on the
Speaking after recently published statistics showed that the 82
fatalities occurring on the A9 in the last five years were the highest
number for any trunk road in Scotland, Highlands and Islands MSP Mary
highlighted the danger of the Northerly A9 connecting roads, citing the
"The A889, linking the A9 and the A86 from Dalwhinnie to Laggan, has
been designated the most dangerous road in Britain, with a shocking
accident rate which is almost four times higher than the next most
dangerous road in Scotland, the A99. Other links from the A9 including
the A95 into Morayshire and the A835 into Ullapool were designated by
the AA as high-risk roads.
"We are talking about not just the A9, but the seriously high-risk roads
that connect to it, and the road beyond Inverness.
"The road north of Dornoch narrows and needs to be given greater
priority status than we are giving it today, and while I understand that
the forecast is for a very severe winter, I would not like to risk
coming down the Berriedale Braes in snow and ice."
Mary stated that the Executive should be concerned about the fatalities
and horrendous injuries that many people experience as a result of
accidents on the A9, and stated her own concern at the delay in the
promised junction improvement at Ballanluig and Bankfoot;
"Piecemeal changes such as the construction of two-by-one lanes are a
welcome improvement, I would support my colleague Murdo Fraser's call
for the eventual dualling of the A9 to Inverness, as this bold step is
Read What Mary Scanlon said in the Debate
16 September 05
Highland MSP's On the Attack Over Island Ferries
The official reports from the Scottish Parliament are long
but this might be of interest as the Highland MSP's all got in on the
act with Tommy Sheridan unusually praising a conservative Mary Scanlon
as coming from a better position then labour MSP's. the day also
had the debate on Crofting - another issue of vital importance to
the Highlands and Islands. Rob Gibson points out during the debate
on crofting "a year in which we are
discussing a housing bill, a planning bill and a crofting bill. We have
also discussed transport, which affects crofting, and I am afraid to say
that we did not do that very well today.
15 September 05
Jamie McGrigor Wants To Help Anyone Waiting Heating Upgrades For Work
Under Warm Deal
During my recent Summer Surgery Tour of the Highlands and Islands, it
was brought to my attention that some people are experiencing delays in
receiving new heating systems or insulation work which they applied for
under the Scottish Executive's Warm Deal or Central Heating programmes.
Some people may have even paid for the work in advance yet are still
waiting for the work to be carried out.
With the winter fast approaching and cold weather an increasing
possibility, it is imperative that any delays in either scheme are
addressed and the relevant companies contracted to undertake the work
If you are waiting for work to be carried out under either scheme, or
have experienced delays in getting surveys or approvals undertaken,
please contact me by calling 0131 348 5648 or by writing to me at the
Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.
Jamie McGrigor MSP
61 Chalmers Street
15 September 05
Scottish Executive Legislative Programme - Planning
Mary Scanlon MSP today welcomed the Executive's White Paper on Planning,
and it's proposed aim to simplify and speed up the planning process in
Scotland whilst also allowing wider, and hopefully fairer and more
Speaking during Parliamentary debate on the Scottish Executive's
Legislative Programme, Mary commented; "Planning is always a
controversial issue but probably nowhere more so than in the Highlands
and Islands at the present time. The proliferation of wind farm
applications and in particular the upgrade of the National Grid
Transmission from Beauly to Denny, have caused much concern.
"Although some of the proposed developments have the backing and support
of the communities affected, there is little doubt that many proposals
certainly do not. The potential blight on the landscape of erected
windfarms, and mega-pylons is a huge issue. The Scottish Executive and
indeed Highland Council will need to consult very closely with local
communities, not only over the route of the proposed Upgrade of the
Beauly to Denny Transmission line, but also to discuss and debate the
impact of each pylon in the highly sensitive areas south of Beauly and
in the Cairngorm National Park."
Mary highlighted the most recent Audit Scotland report which showed that
of 32 local authorities only two achieved the Executive's target of
deciding on 80% of planning applications within two months.
Mary asked; "If Local Authorities do not achieve their targets, then
what will be the consequences? Can 30 out of 32 local authorities have a
reasonable excuse for not achieving them, and what is being done to
address these delays in the planning process?
"I support the proposal whereby local authorities will be statutorily
required to update development plans every five years however we
similarly need to know what sanctions local authorities will face if
they do not keep these plans up to date."
Mary focused on the many Local Plan changes which local communities
face, commenting; "I would highlight the example of the Dalfaber Action
Group's response to the latest application for houses on the outskirts
of Aviemore. Over 650 new houses are now planned for the near future,
and this is a considerable deviation from the agreed Local Plan."
McGrigor attacks Executive complacency
over future energy plans
Jamie McGrigor has met with Scottish & Southern Energy over the
proposed Beauly to Denny powerline.
Speaking after a meeting with representatives of the energy company at
the Scottish Parliament, the Conservative MSP said questions were still
unanswered over the potential damage the lines might do.
Jamie McGrigor said "These lines and their pylons will have a dramatic
impact on the scenery of the areas they pass through - areas that are
amongst some of the most beautiful in Scotland.
"While I am grateful to Scottish and Southern Energy for coming to the
Parliament to discuss their proposals with us, questions are still
unanswered over the potential damage the lines might do.
Mr McGrigor then rounded on the Scottish Executive, accusing them of
having insufficient plans for future energy generation; an issue he said
could have serious consequences in the future.
"What is clear is that the UK Government and the Scottish Executive have
not made sufficient plans to deal with the energy shortages Scotland is
likely to face in the future.
"The Executive's complacency means it will not simply be a question of
how we generate our electricity, but how we even keep the lights on".
NORTH MSP BACKS FUNDING COMMITMENT TO TACKLE SUICIDE RATES IN HIGHLANDS
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has welcomed a
£250,000 funding commitment from the Scottish Executive to tackle
suicide in the Highlands and Islands and other remote and rural areas.
Recent suicide statistics show that people in Scotland are twice as
likely to kill themselves as in the rest of UK.
The Highlands and Island MSP says £200,000 will be targeted on
supporting suicide prevention work in the area. A further £50,000 will
be given to the Breathing Space telephone line for increasing their work
in the same rural areas of the country.
Speaking about the funding commitment, Mrs Macmillan said, "Recent
figures show that there were 28 suicides in the Highlands in 2003 and
every life lost was tragic and touched the lives of the families,
friends and the community.
Last year the Scottish Executive announced a national Choose Life
strategy for suicide prevention. The programme is making good progress
through local and national action to prevent suicide. This further
funding commitment will support this strategy throughout the Highlands
and Islands and provide money for the Breathing Space helpline to
increase their work in the area."
1 September 05
Decentralisation A Way To Bring Prosperity To All
SNP MSP for the Highlands
and Islands Rob Gibson has pointed to an
economic report forecasting that the Highlands and Islands will
become one of the least competitive and poorest regions in Western
Europe by 2015, showing the lack impact that Scottish Executive policies
have on the area.
The report by the Experian group forecasts that the Highlands and
Islands will be (economically speaking) 209th out of 214 regions in
Western Europe, with a downturn in employment and a GDP growth rate
which is one of the worst in the UK.
Mr Gibson said...
"It's deeply worrying and shows that Scots Executive policies for the
North fail most areas outside Inverness. It must act as a wake up call
to all people in the area to listen to the SNP's ideas to bring
He went on...
"The Executive must decentralise more jobs from Edinburgh. Case by case,
such as SNH coming to Inverness, is not enough. A radical policy of job
dispersal to economically depressed areas such as North Sutherland the
Islands and Caithness could increase population there and start a
renaissance. I believe SEERAD should be moved from Pentland House to the
shores of the Pentland Firth. Not only would it give much needed jobs
and economic boost but also would bring those that work on agriculture,
fisheries and the environment closer to the lives of those they most
"Highland Council and the Islands Councils must carry out more
decentralisation. If a department of 5 people is moved from a major hub,
like Inverness to a small community in Sutherland or Ross-shire then
more jobs would spring up to cater for them."
Mr Gibson went onto call for local government reorganisation to make it
more local he said...
"The thirty-two monolithic unitary local authorities in Scotland today
take power away from local communities which strangle local developments
and hands-on power which encourages voters to be interested and
Municipalities like those in Norway or France which serve communities of
a couple thousand could be set up. They could oversee local housing
decisions, set up and run renewable energy projects all of which can
help arrest the lack of affordable housing today., Young people coming
back to their communities is a key goal to boost local confidence."
Mr Gibson also said it will take vision to create a Centre of Excellence
in Clean Energy to be based in Dounreay.
Such vision is vital if the Experian Group forecast is to be avoided."
27 August 05
Women's Needs Must Come Top In Maternity Debate
SSP Central Scotland MSP and former midwife Carolyn Leckie today spoke
out in support of a critical report by the Scottish Women's Convention
on maternity services.
(We Just Can't Let This Happen)
Carolyn said: "This report confirms the views of thousands of women
living in the areas affected by maternity service cuts and
centralisation. "Forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to have
their babies is not just an inconvenience. "Both mothers' and babies'
lives will be put at risk by delaying access to specialist consultants
and putting mothers through the ordeal of travel at a time when
they should be concentrating on their health. "The debate on maternity
services will not go away until the Executive and the Health Boards take
the opinions of service users and local communities seriously."
26 August 05
Gibson welcomes Slow Food Congress to Skye
Real lessons for day to day living can be learned from the growing
number of food festivals that are held around the North of Scotland so
says Highlands and islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson.
Mr Gibson's comments come before he attends the 1st UK Slow Food
Congress which takes place at the Gaelic College, Sabhal Mór Ostaig on
the Isle of Skye this weekend.
He said...."Three food festivals taking place in Durness, the Highlands
based around Inverness and on Skye are all exemplary of how to prepare
local food to a high quality. However the underlying idea behind these
festivals is how to get the best out of the local produce and is
something that could and should translate into every household accessing
the best local produce."
He went onto call on local authorities to take an active role in
promoting better eating habits and more local food production...
"I believe that every local community in Highlands and Islands should
undertake a food audit to find out where the food that is used comes
from. This could point out to locals consumers the extra costs both
physically and environmentally that imported food costs. Local producers
could have a strong home market. Highland Council has taken a lead in
source the majority of the ingredients for school meals locally. Across
the country we should be encouraging more local food production."
"In Caithness the Mey brand of food products is an interesting and
welcome movement but it's real success will depend on how accessible it
is in terms of availability and price to the local population as well as
other discerning buyers."
Mr Gibson welcomed the first Slow Food congress, not only in Scotland
but the UK which takes place in Skye this weekend, he will be attending
it as invited guests with his partner Green MSP Eleanor Scott. The
movement was set up in Italy during the mid eighties and is dedicated to
eco-gastronomic values, which promotes good quality and well prepared
He said..."Not only am I looking forward to some fantastic food I will
also be interested to find out more about the ethos behind the movement,
how it will work in Skye and what lessons can be taken from it and
applied to every day life in the Highlands and Islands ."
26 August 05
MSP Mary Scanlon Concerned At Inpatient Waiting Times
Reacting to the latest NHS Scotland waiting time statistics for June
2005, Mary Scanlon MSP said; "NHS Highland compares relatively
favourably with Health Boards across Scotland."
Mary expressed concern at the Median waiting time for in-patients and
day cases which has again increased in the last quarter, from 50 days to
"The steady increase from 32 days Median wait in 2001 to 52 in June 2005
is a worrying trend, and one which NHS Highland does not seem to be able
"It is not all bad news for NHS Highland, but an increase of 63% and the
prospect of further rises in waiting time for an in-patient appointment,
could lead to more worry, uncertainty and suffering for patients."
26 August 05
Jamie McGrigor MSP on Highlands and Islands Tour
Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor will travel the length and
breadth of the region next week on his Summer Surgery Tour.
Starting in Shetland, the Conservative MSP will hold surgeries in
Lerwick, Kirkwall, Stromness, Thurso, Wick, Brora, Golspie, Dornoch,
Tain, Dingwall, Grantown before finishing in Elgin on Friday.
Mr McGrigor will also visit the new Shetland Museum on Monday morning,
before meeting Unst Councillor Brian Gregson to discuss the impact of
the closure of Saxa Vord on the island.
While on Orkney, he will hold talks with Islands' Council Convenor
Steven Hagan to discuss the issues of central underfunding and the new
ferry contracts. Mr McGrigor, who is Tory Scottish Culture, Tourism and
Sports Spokesman, will also meet with Orkney Tourism Group in the
afternoon, before attending a reception in the evening with the Orkney
Conservative and Unionist Association.
Mr McGrigor will meet Highlands and Islands Enterprise Chairman William
Roe and Chief Executive Sandy Cumming in Inverness on Friday, before
attending the Dalmally Show on Saturday.
24 August 05
HIGHLAND MSP SEEKS MEETING WITH MINISTER OVER DRAFT CROFTING BILL
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has written to
Deputy Environment and Rural Development Minister Rhona Brankin, seeking
a meeting to discuss the draft Crofting Bill.
Mrs Macmillan, who sit on the cross-party crofting group, commented, "I
am well aware of the concerns within the crofting community over this
proposed piece of legislation. In the West Highlands, it has been
suggested that if implemented in its present form, the bill could result
in the end of crofting as we know it. During a recent visit to Shetland,
crofting representatives also expressed their concerns to me over the
effects on the bill.
The main area causing disquiet is the commercialisation of assignations,
which could effectively mean that crofting land can be sold for housing,
thereby removing it forever from agricultural use. Some of the problem
could be solved if the Crofter's Commission exercised its powers more
strongly and I want to discuss the possibility of this with the
Minister. There is also ongoing concern about the future effect of the
single-farm payment in the long-term and the future of LFASS.
Mrs Macmillan added, "Crofting has been a way of life for generations,
it provides income for many families throughout the Highlands and
Islands and has been commended by environmentalists as both ecologically
sound and sustainable. When I meet the Minister I will certainly stress
the opposition and anxieties that have been highlighted. I would
hope that when the bill is presented to parliament it will reflect the
10 August 05
Moray Primary Schools
In response to the news that Moray Council has today abandoned their
proposed Primary School Closures programme, Mary Scanlon MSP said; ""I
would hope that lessons have been learned from this consultation.
"There has been a huge backlash in response to the proposals from
communities throughout Moray, including a petition in the Scottish
Parliament. I am pleased that Moray Council has, on this occasion
listened to the concerns of local people and I hope that in future, the
crucial role of local schools as a centre and hub for the local
communities will be considered. "Small Rural Schools have unique
characteristics which can attract people to live and work in the area."
9 August 05
NHS Waiting Times set for Infertility Treatment
Mary Scanlon MSP has been informed that the Scottish Executive will
consider applying a 'target waiting time' for couples who wish to
receive infertility treatment, following a review of NHS assisted
conception criteria. Commenting, Mary said; "Currently, Waiting
List times for tertiary Infertility Treatment vary widely across
Scottish NHS Boards, and can force couples to wait for as long as five
years in Grampian, by which time many women have reached the current
cut-off age for treatment of 38 years old. "I have asked a series
of Parliamentary Questions on this subject in recent months and have set
up a Short Life Parliamentary Working Group to increase recognition of
infertility as an important health need. I am delighted with this
breakthrough, and to hear that the Scottish Executive has responded by
launching a review of NHS funded Infertility treatment. "I will
continue to work closely with the Consultants and Health Professionals
who have contacted me and are involved with my Working Group, to ensure
that Infertility Treatment is recorded as a Waiting List target, as this
is the only way to ensure that adequate resources will be dedicated to
assisting the many couples throughout Scotland who desperately wish to
conceive a child."
1 July 05
McGrigor warns of “dangerous precedent”
A Conservative MSP has said
the future of crofting in Scotland is at risk following a decision by
the Crofters Commission.
MSP Jamie McGrigor said he is deeply concerned over the decision to
allow a Taynuilt croft to be de-crofted for luxury homes and warned it
could be just the first of many across the Highlands and Islands.
In a letter sent to
Chairman David Green before the decision was made, Mr McGrigor said the
development would not be in the interest of Taynuilt and was already
causing consternation amongst local people.
Jamie McGrigor said “It is
surely one of the Crofters’ Commission’s goals to work for the future of
crofting rather than to give a whole croft over for a housing
“It is certainly not in the interest of Taynuilt to have a mini housing
estate in this place, especially when there is no overriding need for
housing because 80 houses are scheduled to be built elsewhere in
Taynuilt in the near future.
“In contrast, there is already demand for more ground from the existing
crofters, and I am reliably told by the local Crofters’ Foundation
representative that nine different people would be glad to take on the
croft in question.
“The decision to de-croft has caused consternation amongst the majority
of local people in Taynuilt and could have serious implications for the
future of crofting across the Highlands and Islands.
“How long is it before we see similar development proposals in the
Western Isles, in the rest of the Highlands or even on Orkney or
Shetland? A very dangerous precedent has been set”.
Gibson Speaks On Housing Bill
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has outlined three key points
to that need to be addressed in the new housing bill.
Speaking in the First Stage debate in Parliament today Mr Gibson said
that while the aims of the Bill were progressive and welcome more work
was needed to be done to promote low cost affordable homes, to
climate proof existing and future housing stock as well as encouraging
the construction of eco-friendly housing which are pressing priorities
that the Bill did not fully address. He said… " Chancellor Gordon
Brown has proposed that Personal Pension Plans should include house
purchases. What do Ministers think will happen to desirable housing
stock in attractive areas of Scotland. Whilst we have yet to witness the
£1 m house in my home village of Evanton every former council house with
a view, every croft on the market throughout the Highlands and Islands
is going to deny present and future house buying by the resident
population who can already see when alerted to this that their children
have little or no hope of competing."
He continued… "Scotland may have the best insulation in Britain
however it is far behind other North European Countries such as Norway,
Sweden and Finland. The climate change report, which was drawn up by the
Environment and Rural Development Committee, identified that around
700,000 houses in Scotland needed climate proofing. Doing this would
create better living conditions, produce jobs and most importantly
conserve energy which will reduce carbon emissions while eventually
saving people money. It is time that the Scottish Executive started
taking the cost of this seriously in the huge disrepair estimates that
they have made."
He ended…. "The time for eco-friendly housing has come. In the Highlands
we are uniquely placed to exploit the rich natural resources on our
doorstep to construct low cost sustainable housing. But the Housing
minister will have to ensure that the transport minister cuts the cost
of fuel and the price carrying building materials across the Minch and
on routes to the Northern Isles. "
Modernisation package to reform planning system
27 June 05
Mary Scanlon MSP
At W8 Conference
Mary Scanlon was one of eight MSP's who attended the W8 Summit in
Edinburgh on June 23rd, to hear eight inspiring and thriving African
women address the conference in a celebration of the significant
contributions they have made across Africa.
Mary was honoured to represent Alivera Kiiza, a member of the W8 group
of African women, in the Scottish Parliament.
Commenting, Mary said; "It was very pleased
to attend the W8 conference, to hear the interesting and moving stories
of these women, and to meet Alivera Kiiza, a woman who has shown great
courage and entrepreneurial spirit in leading a coffee co-operative in
her home land of Tanzania.
"Generally speaking women are not allowed
to inherit and own land in many parts of Africa, however, Alivera has
overcome this problem and now owns 6 acres of coffee and banana
plantations as her business. She encourages other women to do the same.
Women in Africa have a significantly lower default rate in business than
"I have been greatly impressed by her
determination to succeed in business despite the many obstacles facing
African women, and I was happy to be asked to represent her in the
Scottish Parliamentary debate on the W8 conference."
22 June 05
Gibson questions Exec over future
of Crofting and farming in the Highlands and Islands
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has questioned the Scottish
Executive on the effects a renegotiated European CAP policy would have
for the crofters and farmers in the Highlands and Islands. His
question comes in the wake of recent comments from Tony Blair that the
CAP is outdated and that less European money should go to farmers.
Mr Gibson said...."I would like to know what the impact would be on
farming and crofting in the North of Scotland should Mr Blair get his
way in Europe. I hope that we don't see a re-run of the early 1970's
when Edward Heath said the Scottish fishing was 'expendable' and could
be traded away during negotiating entry into the EEC." "When Mr
Blair says that the CAP needs to be reduced he does not speak on behalf
of farmers and crofters of the Highlands and Islands Because he doesn't
come out and tell them what any change would mean. I have placed a
written question to the Scottish Executive to find out if they know how
such a change would impact our people." "We already know that the
Scottish Executive expects the Highlands and Islands to loose out on
roughly £210 million worth of aid should Tony Blair get to change the
budget, so I expect that they must have some idea as to the impact for
crofters and farmers if the CAP is slashed, and if they don't then they
have a duty to find out."
17 June 05
McGrigor On Crime
Low level crime up over 11% in Highlands and Islands
Cases of petty crimes such as vandalism have soared across the Highlands
and Islands according to new figures. Conservative MSP Jamie
McGrigor said the figures, which show low level crime in the Northern
Constabulary have soared by over 11% since last year, were deeply
Jamie McGrigor said "While some might describe these crimes as low
level, there is nothing low level about the impact they have on the
people they affect or on the communities across the Highlands and
Islands plagued by these crimes. These are deeply concerning figures.
"They show cases of vandalism and breaches of the peace both increasing,
with only a small decreases in cases of fireraising and of people being
drunk and incapable. "These are the everyday activities that make
streets feel so unsafe and areas so unwelcoming, and this Executive is
failing to deal with them. The fact that the 11.9% increase in the
Northern Constabulary area is below the Scottish average only helps to
demonstrate that the Executive is losing control of our streets. "I have
no doubts that the Northern Constabulary and its officers are working
increasingly hard to deal with these cases but what is now abundantly
clear is that the Scottish Executive's anti-social behaviour legislation
is not acting as a deterrent to these criminals. "While this
Executive tries to sound tough on crime, people across the Highlands and
Islands, be that in Orkney, Shetland, Argyll and Bute, Caithness and
Sutherland or any other area, see low level crime going up.
"People in the Highlands and Islands are tired of all the rhetoric from
a LibDem/Labour Executive that is clearly failing to make local
communities feel safe for the honest law abiding citizen".
17 June 05
McGrigor On Charity Awards
McGrigor urges Highland and Islands public to nominate voluntary groups
for charity awards. MSP Jamie McGrigor is calling on the
Highlands and Islands public to nominate local voluntary organisations
for the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Twelve
voluntary organisations across Scotland received the award in 2005 and
nominations can be made from now until the 30th of September this year
for next year's award. Jamie McGrigor said "Volunteering is such
an important opportunity to give something back to local communities and
there are so many excellent voluntary organisations across the Highland
and Islands that do so much to improve the quality of life of other
people, especially those who are elderly, vulnerable or disabled.
"Many of these voluntary groups operate on small budgets and survive
simply because of the hard work and generosity of their volunteers and
they deserve real recognition.
"I would encourage any member of the public who benefits from a local
voluntary organisation or who knows just how beneficial that group is to
their community to consider nominating it for the Queen's Award.
"A number of groups in the Highlands and Islands received the award this
year and it would be great to see more local voluntary bodies receiving
the award in 2006".
Application forms are available at
www.queensawardvoluntary.gov.uk or by calling the
Queen's Award office on 0845 000 2002.
17 June 05
Gibson On Railway In Far North
17 June 05
McGrigor On Dental Provision
McGrigor to question Executive on dental provision in Highlands and
MSP Jamie McGrigor is to question the Scottish Executive on dental
services in the Highlands and Islands.
The Conservative MSP has had a Parliamentary Oral Question to the
Executive accepted for Question Time next week. He said it was time the
issue of dental provision became a priority for the Executive.
Jamie said "Dental provision is an issue that has been raised time and
time again with me across the Highlands and Islands.
"Whether it's in Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Argyll and Bute or any
other area the issue is always the same - people are frustrated that it
is becoming nigh on impossible to get access to an NHS dentist.
"I will simply be asking the Scottish Executive what people across the
Highlands and Islands are already asking - what action it is taking to
ensure access to improve dental provision for people living in our area?
"In desperation, many people are being forced into paying for expensive
private treatment. This is simply not an option for many younger
families with young children who need, and are entitled to, access to
NHS dental provision.
"It is time this issue became a priority for this Executive".
17 June 05
Gibson speaks up for small holders
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called on the Scottish
Executive to use the Crofting Reform Bill to regularise the position of
small landholders (as defined in the Small Landholders Scotland Act
1911) whose needs were not met by the Agriculture Holding Act of 2003.
Mr Gibson discovered that the 2003 Act did not legislate for small
holders even though land tenure expert Sir Crispin Agnew raised the
issue of small landowners when giving evidence to the bill in November
2002. He pointed out that there could be several hundred small holders
throughout Scotland who needed to be considered. Mr Gibson said...."Last
Saturday along with my colleague Stewart Maxwell (SNP MSP for West of
Scotland) I met several small landholders on Arran. Due to their
uncertain position, they hope the Crofting Bill proposals could help
them out. Therefore I have written to the Scottish Executive under
Freedom on Information provisions to understand why the 2003 Act ignored
them. I have also asked the Scottish Executive how many small holders
there are in Scotland in each County to clarify the size of the
"The small holders that I met in Arran were hopeful that an amendment
could be placed in the Crofting Bill that would allow their situation to
be addressed at long last. While they are not crofters their situation
is very similar. If Arran becomes a part of the Crofting counties, as
proposed by First Minister Jack McConnell then the Arran small
landholders cannot be ignored.