Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the decision by the Scottish Government to fund increased capacity on the Glasgow/Tiree air service this summer which will result in an extra flight each week day.

Mr Russell said:

“I have discussed this with representatives of the community on Tiree on several occasions and I made representations on behalf of the island to the Transport Minister last year. I am very glad that he has decided to fund an additional flight each week day which will double capacity and allow not just an increase in tourist traffic but also greater flexibility for local people who have to travel to the mainland for hospital appointments or for other reasons.

“There have been too many occasions in the last few years on which local people have been unable to secure a seat on the plane thus resulting in extra time spent on the mainland after or before medical appointments . I hope that will shortly be a thing of the past.

“It is also important that usage is monitored by the operator and if further expansion is needed that is well evidenced to the Government by the airline as well as by the community.”

Michael Russell MSP - Marie Curie

Wearing his daffodil with pride, Michael Russell MSP lent his support to Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal at the Scottish Parliament on 5 March 2015.

Mr Russell met staff and heard about the work of the charity that cares for terminally ill people and their families across Scotland. He posed with a placard pledging support for people with a terminal illness.

The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s biggest fundraiser, which encourages everyone to give a donation and wear a daffodil pin in March. The money raised will help Marie Curie Nurses to provide more free care to local people with terminal illnesses in their own homes and in the two Scottish Marie Curie Hospices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.Continue reading

COSLA ATTEMPTS TO DEFEND DICK WALSH’S ADMINISTRATION BUT GETS NO SUPPORT

The MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has welcomed the decision of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee to back – unanimously – his amendments to the Community Empowerment Bill presently at its second stage in the Parliament. These amendments ensure that no local authority can ever again treat a community with the contempt shown by Argyll & Bute Council when it refused to sell Castle Toward to the South Cowal community last month.

Commenting after the meeting, Mr Russell said:

“I have made it clear for some time that I would be seeking means to outlaw the type of obstructive, dog in the manger attitude shown by Argyll & Bute Council over the sale of Castle Toward. My amendments passed today create a new right for communities to appeal to Ministers if a local authority fails to agree a price with a community or acts in a way contrary to the new community asset transfer rules which the Scottish Government is now bringing in.

“I was delighted that these amendments were backed unanimously by the committee which includes Labour & Tory members, despite an attempt by COSLA – the group that represents many of Scotland’s local councils including Argyll & Bute – to derail the process with a briefing against the amendments which asserted that they were “offensive to local government”.

“In reality it was deeply offensive to my constituents that COSLA made such a ham fisted attempt to defend the actions of Dick Walsh and his administration and it is much to the credit of the committee members that they paid no attention to it.

“As the Government has also backed these amendments they are certain to become law when he Community Empowerment Bill completes its Parliamentary passage next month. I only regret that they could not be made retrospective, for that they would have undone the great wrong that the current Argyll & Bute administration has done to South Cowal and its community.”

The MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has welcomed the announcement by Scottish Government Education Secretary Angela Constance that more than £20 million of Scottish Government funding has been secured for new primary school building projects which include the full refurbishment of Dunoon Primary School to allow it to retain its listed building status.

Mr Russell said:

“This news will be very warmly welcomed in Dunoon where the long running saga of primary building or re-building looks close to coming to an end.

“The Council have taken a very long time to get to this stage and there remains considerable local uncertainty about how the project will now proceed given that very little information on decanting of pupils from the existing building while the work is undertaken has yet been given to parents.

“I hope Argyll & Bute Council will now get on with the project and ensure that parents, children and staff are fully consulted and informed as it goes forward. Investment in new and refurbished schools is a very positive thing for any government to do as it invests in the nation’s future. With the building of a new school about to start in Campbeltown and support in place for a replacement in Oban the people of Argyll & Bute are seeing the benefits of an SNP Government committed to education.”

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed new statistics showing a significant increase in NHS staff in the Highlands  and in doing so has paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of local NHS staff.

The figures published this week show that the  total number of Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) staff in the NHS in the Highlands has grown by 21.9%   since the SNP came into office in 2007.  This means that there has been an increase of almost 1500  NHS staff members in the Highlands in the last 8 years and the overall total of 8080 is an all time record.     NHS staff numbers in Scotland as a whole are also now standing at a record high.

A recent Survation poll has found that the SNP is the party which people most trust with the NHS – by a factor of more than two-to-one over Labour.

Commenting, Michael Russell said:

 “Our local NHS staff in Argyll & Bute  do an incredible job for which we should all be thankful  and so these figures showing that there are even more NHS staff right across the Highlands are very welcome.

 The SNP’s commitment to our health service is second to none and is delivering real results for this area .  The Scottish Government is also going on investing and frontline spending on the Scottish NHS will  shortly  be above £12bn for the first time ever.

More can be done however, and I am delighted that the Health Secretary Shona Robison will shortly be visiting Argyll to talk to local people about what is being delivered and what they still want to see done, particularly on the islands. “

MOTION BACKS UK SPACE PORT AT MACHRIHANISH

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament urging support for Machrihanish as the location for the proposed UK Space Port.

The final shortlist for consideration was published yesterday and Machrihanish was included. Now each area will have to put forward a strong argument for selection and Mr Russell has outlined the length of runway, the sea approach and the availability of infrastructure at the site as key elements in what he hopes will be a wining package. He has also drawn attention to the fact the Machrihanish is the only Scottish site on the short list which is owned by the local community.

Mr Russell commented:
“There has been a lot of local support for the proposal to date and HIE and Argyll & Bute Council have got behind it as well. I hope this motion will attract some wider interest as many of us are convinced that Machrihanish – or Cape Campbeltown as I have recently heard it called in connection with this idea – is the ideal location.
“The benefits to the local economy and to the wider reputation of the area would be immense and the boost it would give community ownership is a further important consideration.”

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell  has welcomed new statistics showing the strong performance of Accident and Emergency units in the Highlands.

The figures published on Tuesday 3rd March  (the first release of weekly figures as promised by the First Minister recently) show that 95.2 per cent of patients in A&E were treated within four hours in the Highlands – just exceeding  the Scottish Government’s interim target of 95 per cent despite winter pressures and severe  weather during the period in question.

Commenting, Mr Russell  said:

“These very positive figures for the Highlands showing a strong performance in our A&E units are first and foremost  a tribute to the hard-working NHS staff who do such vital work in our hospitals.

“The Scottish Government is passionately committed to Scotland’s NHS.  We are investing an additional £383m in front-line health spending in 2015/16, which means that Scottish health spending will  be above £12bn for the first time ever.

These waiting time figures prove that  investment to date  is delivering real progress in Argyll & Bute and future investment will produce an even better service.

“But there is always more which can be done.  Local people can be assured that there will be, and is  absolutely no complacency with regard to health provision or any other public service.    

The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything it can to support staff, enhance the patient experience and protect and improve the NHS.”

ENDS

 

“THE ABSOLUTE PRIORITY IS INVESTMENT IN CAMPBELTOWN CREAMERY”

Speaking after a meeting of dairy farmers and their families, held in Campbeltown last night, which considered the recent report from the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Committee, but was held in the shadow of a further reduction in the price per litre paid by First Milk, effective from April, Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell commented:

“This was a well-attended and very focussed meeting, which discussed in detail the challenges facing the dairy industry in Kintyre. There was agreement that the absolute priority was to ensure that First Milk honoured their commitment to major investment in the creamery, which is being supported by grants from the Scottish Government. I agreed to meet the dairy farmers and their families again soon, when there will hopefully be more information from the company about a firm timescale of the upgrading of the creamery, which is vital for the future of the producers and the area.

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