2014-12-11 11.27.30Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity with two rehoming centres in Scotland, joined forces with Michael Russell MSP and special guests Dennis and Gnasher to help raise awareness for the charity’s compulsory microchipping campaign at a photocall event in the Scottish Parliament.

8,847 Scottish owners have availed of the free microchipping service offered by Dogs Trust across the country this year, demonstrating a real enthusiasm for this important component of dog welfare. The charity is dismayed, however, that the Scottish Government has still failed to announce its decision on the proposed introduction of compulsory microchipping, despite launching a consultation on the issue nearly a year ago.

Speaking at the event, Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said:

“Microchipping has a number of welfare benefits – the most important being the ability to rapidly identify a stray or lost dog and return it to its owner. In 2014, 4,893 lost or straying dogs were picked up by Local Authorities in Scotland. Dogs Trust believes that compulsory microchipping will help to reduce these numbers, thereby cutting kennelling costs for Local Authorities and reducing the burden on animal welfare charities.”

To find out more about when the roaming Dogs Trust teams will be in your area or learn more about the benefits of microchipping visit www.chipmydog.org.uk.

Michael Russell, SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, today welcomed the news that three organisations in Argyll and Bute received awards totalling £4571 from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme.

19th Argyll (Lochgilphead) Scout Group received a £1000 award for an outdoor activity weekend at the Lochgoilhead National Scout Centre. Rothesay Academy received a £1795 award to deliver various sports aimed at getting more high school students and members of the local community active, including rugby, football, fitness, badminton, table tennis, athletics, softball and golf sessions. North Bute Primary School received a £1776 award for equipment for new after school sports clubs.

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Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed a Scottish Parliament Committee’s positive backing for Jess Smith’s “Tinkers Heart” petition, but has expressed disappointment at the lack of support from Historic Scotland and the landowner of the site, Kate Howe of Ardno.

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions committee considered progress with the petition today (Tuesday) and agreed to invite Historic Scotland and the Cabinet Secretary for Culture to attend at a future date to face questions from the committee about the inability of Historic Scotland to find means to respond constructively and adequately to the need to preserve and promote the heritage of all of Scotland’s people by protecting and promoting the site. The Committee also decided to contact the landowner again who had spoken on the phone to a committee clerk but had not yet responded in writing or in detail to the committee, even though she has had almost ten weeks to do so.

Mr Russell said ” I was pleased to be at the Committee this morning and to express thanks for the backing the Committee continues to give to Jess’ campaign . However we are all disappointed at the poor response from Historic Scotland which needs to up its game when responding to public concern regarding its attitude to the heritage and history of Scotland’s Travelling people. Members were also surprised at the discourtesy shown to the Committee and the Scottish Parliament by the landowner who has not yet responded to the Committee in writing.

Jess and I have now invited members of the Committee to visit the Heart and see the crying need for action to ensure this unique place is improved in a way which can not only provide a fitting tribute to the contribution of the Travellers to our nation but can also help others to understand how important that contribution has been. Progress is being made with that aim but more is needed and Historic Scotland has to start being part of the solution, not part of the problem. “

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the news that the most complex installation of subsea links ever attempted in Scotland has been completed, and that this marks another big step towards the provision of superfast fibre broadband to many parts of his constituency.

Commenting on the announcement this morning, Mr Russell said:

“This is great news for many people in Argyll & Bute. Complaints about broadband speed are common in the constituency, but the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Project, brought forward by the Scottish Government and being delivered by HIE and BT, will provide huge increases in speed and reliability across the area over the next couple of years.

“The project is one of the most complex and difficult ever attempted in Scotland, and the installation of 250 miles of fibre optic under the sea in 20 crossings – 9 of which start or finish (or both) in Argyll & Bute – was a massive task to plan and undertake. Its successful completion brings the day closer when the majority of people in Argyll & Bute will be able to access superfast broadband, which is of huge importance to business and to everyday domestic life.

“These services will also allow the mobile phone companies to provide something more than the basic and often inadequate service they presently give to local bill payers, and I hope they will bring forward their plans on a firm timetable, with no further delay.

“The superfast delivery programme will not reach every household though more than 90% are likely to be covered with the first provision coming on stream in a few areas in early 2015 and the rest being rolled out over the next 24 months or so. However the Scottish Government is funding Community Broadband Scotland to fill the gaps, and I look forward to getting regular accounts of progress on feasibility studies for some of those areas, including parts of Mull.