Local MSP, Michael Russell, has welcomed a £4000 grant for Kintyre Youth Café in his constituency, from Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland. Every year, the Foundation distributes just under £1 million through its Henry Duncan Awards programme to grassroots charities working in their local communities.

Kintyre Youth Café will receive £4000 towards the cost of employing a co-ordinator for the project.

Commenting, Michael Russell MSP said:
“This award shows how Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland continues to be at the heart of funding local communities. I’m delighted Kintyre Youth Café is receiving a grant, enabling it to continue its great work engaging and reaching out to disadvantaged children and young people in the area. Many of the Henry Duncan grants go on existing staff and running costs like this, meaning they are a lifeline for local charities in this tough financial climate.”

Fiona Duncan, Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, added “We renamed our standard grants programme as the Henry Duncan Awards because we wanted to honour this great Scot whose actions ultimately led to the establishment of the Foundation. Today, we remain focused on funding local charities which aim to improve the quality of life for people who are disadvantaged. This and every year, we put nearly £1 million of funding into Scotland’s communities. We are proud of the difference we make.”

Michael Russell MSP, in conjunction with Argyll & Bute Employment Partnership Group, will be hosting Opportunities for All Careers and Jobs Fair in the Corran Halls, Oban on 5th March 2015. The event will run from 11:00 – 14:30 with employers including Scottish Salmon Company, Diageo, Lidl and Carr-Gomm in attendance.

Commenting ahead of the event, the MSP for Argyll and Bute said,

“I am delighted Oban will be hosting this jobs fair on March 5th. Argyll and Bute has an incredibly rich pool of talented people but we know that finding the right job can be difficult. That’s why events such as this are so important to help people across the constituency find opportunities and jobs to enhance their careers.

“Last year I hosted a similar jobs fair which was a great success. I look forward to replicating that in March with jobs fairs planned for Dunoon, Campbeltown and Lochgilphead. Every local employer and job hunter is welcome to the event and I hope this will be a brilliant opportunity to building a stronger workforce in Oban.”

MSP warns prospective purchasers of Castle Toward to “be aware of the history and the community”

Argyll and Bute MSP for Argyll & Bute, Michael Russell has responded to a further email to him from Council leader Dick Walsh about Castle Toward by seeking a meeting with the full administration to discuss the issue and the need for positive engagement on the many problems facing the area.

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The Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group (CPG) for Malawi met on the evening of the 18th February to discuss the recent devastating floods in Malawi and review Scotland’s response over the last month. The CPG was briefed by three organisations in receipt of emergency funding from the Scottish Government: UNICEF, EMMS International and F.R.O.M. Malawi, and received feedback on this response from the Government of Malawi via the Honorary Consul for Scotland.

The Cross Party Group applauded the response from the people and governments of both Scotland and Malawi, also recognizing the essential role that DFID and other donors continue to play.

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Speaking after the meeting of the Public Petitions Committee at which evidence was taken from Historic Scotland and Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said:

“I am delighted that Historic Scotland has agreed to look again at scheduling this unique site. It is badly in need of preservation, protection and improvement and regrettably the landowner seems to have set her face against any further action. That is not acceptable nor is the present state of the site with an unsuitable metal case round the stones, an agricultural trailer next to it and inaccurate notice board attached to a gate by which it is impossible to park.

“The strong contribution of the Travellers to Scotland’s story deserves much better treatment particularly as this is the only monument they have left on our landscape.”

Mr Russell also welcomed the decision by the Committee to keep the Petition open to consider it again once Historic Scotland had come to a conclusion and the Committee’s decision to write to the landlord urging them to cooperate with Historic Scotland.


Reacting to the decision of Argyll & Bute Council on the community bid to buy Castle Toward today, Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“Argyll & Bute Council has lost the confidence of those it governs. This afternoon’s unpleasant, tawdry, self-serving and destructive meeting proves that beyond doubt. The Councillors and senior officials who were party to it should hang their heads in shame.

“The disgraceful motion that the administration put forward and then nodded through is arrogant, and anti-democratic.  It has cost Cowal up to 100 jobs.   But it is also deeply sinister in its attack on Councillors, and others who supported the community.  Clearly Dick Walsh wants council officials to conduct a witch hunt against anyone who criticises him, and that in itself speaks volumes about his disastrous leadership.

“But worse still was the decision of the Provost, on the advice of a senior official, to rule out of order any discussion of the sale of the Castle to the community. Using procedural devices to do down a local community is disgraceful, and is already the subject of a huge amount of adverse comment, across Argyll and more widely.

“It is now essential that Audit Scotland intensifies its scrutiny of Argyll & Bute Council, and I will be writing to them to ask them to bring forward their next report and take further action to bring to an end this discreditable chapter in Argyll’s story, which is causing so much heartache and loss within the area.

“I will also intend to bring forward amendments to the Community Empowerment Bill, which will ensure the contemptuous flouting of the Community Right to Buy, demonstrated by Argyll & Bute Council today, can never happen again.”


Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell is today welcoming new figures showing that Scotland is on course to exceed the target of 25,000 new Modern Apprenticeships this year – including a total of 203 starts in Argyll and Bute.

The figures released by Skills Development Scotland show that by the end of the third quarter of 2014/15 there were 19,517 modern apprenticeship starts in Scotland – 78 per cent of the total annual target and a two per cent increase on the same point last year.

Commenting, Mr Russell said:

“These very welcome figures are testament to the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in youth employment – creating almost 100,000 new apprenticeship opportunities over the last four years including a total of 203 starts in Argyll and Bute in 2014/15 so far.

“Apprenticeships play a key role in the Scottish Government’s efforts to promote youth employment and these figures are further evidence of the real results being achieved for young people across Argyll and Bute – but there is always more which could be done.

“With the full range of economic powers in Scotland’s hands rather than Westminster’s we can do even more to boost youth employment and give local young people the opportunities they deserve.”


Responding to the announcement that the Wemyss Bay Pier works have been delayed until at least September Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“This is very surprising news and does not reflect well on the competence of CMAL. Many people will fail to understand how these works can now be postponed given that only a couple of weeks ago the timing of them was described as essential for safety reasons.

There needs to be a much more compressive and honest explanation given by CMAL and I will be pressing for that including an assurance that safety has not and will not be compromised. There also needs to be a new timetable set for the work which does not impinge on the busy summer and autumn season. The next quiet time on the route starts with the winter timetable and if possible nothing should be done till then.

I have spoken to the Transport Minister today about this matter and have suggested to him he comes to Bute to meet key stakeholders to answer their questions and address their concerns. I hope he will do so before too long.”


The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has added her voice to the chorus of organisations and individuals urging Argyll & Bute Council to accept the bid from the South Cowal Community Development Company for the Castle Toward Estate and has urged those involved to “negotiate constructively” to secure the future of what she described as “an important community asset”.

She was responding to a constituency question from Michael Russell, the MSP for Argyll & Bute during First Minister’s Questions today. Mr Russell asked her if she would:

“seek an urgent opportunity personally to ask the leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Dick Walsh, to accept the bid for Castle Toward of £850,000 that the South Cowal Community Development Company has lodged? That bid will lead to 100 jobs being created in the area, but it will fall in a week’s time unless the council chooses to get out of the way of the community and stops obstructing it in its desire to own the premises.”

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