Local MSP, Michael Russell has today tabled a motion in Parliament to congratulate Col-Glen Shinty Club.


“Motion Text: Col-Glen Shinty Club Wins South Division Two Title

That the Parliament congratulates the players, officials and supporters of Col-Glen Shinty Club on winning the Marine Harvest South Division Two championship title, which is not only the first league championship title in the club’s 95-year history but also the first title of any sort that the club has gained since winning the Bullough Cup in 1983, and commends what it considers the persistent enthusiasm of residents of Colintraive and Glendaruel in their support for the club over the long years of title drought.”


Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the visit by the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee to the area today (Monday).

Mr Russell has given evidence to the committee in Edinburgh on several occasions in recent months about the petition by Jess Smith on the Scheduling of the Tinkers Heart and about the “Argyll First” Petition concerning the A83.   In addition the committee is now also looking at a petition from Bute Resident George MacKenzie about a Scottish Red Ensign.

Commenting on the visit Mr Russell said:

“I am delighted the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee is in Argyll today.  It is very important that  members see and hear for themselves the truth about issues raised by the public in my constituency.

Since the committee decided to come, back in April, Historic Scotland have reversed their previous opposition  and have added the unique “Tinker’s Heart” at Cairndow to the list of scheduled monuments.   That is a tremendous step forward for Scotland’s travelling community as well as for the recognition of what is called the intangible cultural heritage.   Members will have a chance to see the Heart for themselves today with the help of the petitioner, the remarkable and determined Jess Smith.

Members will also question the Transport Minister Derek MacKay about the A83 and it is a sign of the important role that the committee plays in the Parliament that  the Minister is appearing before them today in Argyll.  I have consistently supported the petition on the matter form the Argyll First Group of Councillors and it is that continuing pressure from the community that has lead to ongoing investment and the Minister’s acknowledgement in January that more still needs to be done.

The final item for the committee today is George MacKenzie’s petition on a Scottish Red Ensign and I look forward to speaking in support of Mr MacKenzie’s long standing efforts to persuade the Scottish Government to apply for a discretionary ensign which can be flown world wide.

I often encourage constituents to petition the Parliament and I am glad that the committee has been prepared to come to Argyll .  That will, I hope, encourage others to make use of what is a  successful way of influencing policy and holding public bodies to account.”

Local MSP, Michael Russell, congratulates Bute (and Bute in Bloom) for an outstanding result in the Beautiful Scotland Awards -officially the most beautiful place in Scotland yet again ! Mr Russell has tabled this motion in the Parliament to mark the success :

Motion Text: That the Parliament notes the outstanding success of the Island of Bute in the Beautiful Scotland awards; commends what it considers the inspirational work of Bute in Bloom, which has resulted in the island not only winning the Rosebowl, the top prize, in the 2015 competition, which repeated the island’s success in 2010, but also the David Kerr Trophy for best coastal town and three gold certificates, including one recognising the high level of community involvement in the competition; notes the particular commendation for the local authority bedding displays, the heritage horticultural work, the involvement of children at Mount Stuart, the contribution of the Beachwatch Bute and HELP projects and the engagement with young vulnerable people, and congratulates everyone on the island on their hard work in achieving such results”

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the decision by Royal Mail to restore local sorting of local mail on Mull & Tiree.
Earlier this week Mr Russell wrote to Royal Mail to protest about what he described as a “ludicrous” decision to send all mail to Glasgow for sorting, thus delaying some mail by several days.
Now Royal Mail has blamed a “temporary error” which they claim to have rectified and have confirmed that local mail on the islands will be sorted locally once again.

Commenting on the issue Mr Russell said:

“I am very pleased that common sense has prevailed in this matter. Royal Mail provide a good service to my constituents but this would have considerably worsened delivery times in fragile rural areas and would have had an effect on jobs and the quality of life.
Whatever the reason for the problem the speedy restoration of local sorting for local mail will be welcomed by all those who live and work on the islands.”

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has asked Royal Mail to “think again” about new arrangements which have removed all local franking and sorting on several islands in Argyll, with every item now being sent to Glasgow even if it has to return immediately for delivery.

Mr Russell said :  A number of constituents on Mull and Tiree have already been in touch about these ludicrous new arrangements and I understand that they also apply to some other islands.

Up until now local mail for the island itself was locally sorted but now everything has to go to Glasgow, by ferry and even sometimes by air.   It is then sorted and sent back.

This is not only environmentally daft, it will also lead to significant delays especially in winter when services can be disrupted by weather.   In addition it will have implications for local employment.

Royal Mail constantly claim that they are improving their service to customers.   This is clear proof that services are actually getting poorer.   I have asked the company to cease this new arrangement immediately and return to the sensible local process that has operated well for generations.”



Commenting on the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & the Environment, Richard Lochhead regarding funding for sheep and beef schemes, Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“I would encourage all eligible farmers within Argyll & Bute to apply for these schemes as soon as possible and to make sure that the money available comes to those areas most in need. There are many problems at present on the ground with the poor summer and the drop in prices amongst them. These schemes provide useful income at any time, but will be particularly valuable in the coming winter. “


Farming support schemes launched
01/09/2015 10:00
Beef and sheep farmers can apply for share of £38 million.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead today (Tuesday) encouraged farmers to apply for their share of a fund to support beef and upland sheep.

This is the first year of the new schemes. The support for beef producers replaces the old Scottish Beef Scheme and will reward farmers for calves born on or after December 2 2014. The support for farmers with sheep is new and will provide support to help maintain flocks in some of the most challenging agricultural land in Scotland. Payment under both schemes are due in 2016.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Succulent Scotch Beef and Lamb are prime products that are in demand all over the world. Scotch Beef was voted the nation’s favourite food and drink product last year. Following a challenging summer for farmers, these two new schemes will provide a welcome support for a vital part of the farming industry.

“This is the first time we have offered a specific support scheme to the islands to recognise the fact they have more adverse farming conditions due to poorer quality land and smaller markets which means they are more dependent on distant markets. Farming and crofting communities are vitally important and I hope the Upland Sheep Support scheme will help maintain employment, particularly during harsher times.

“I would urge farmers to make sure applications for these new schemes, which are worth around £38.8 million in total, are submitted in plenty of time ahead of the relative deadlines and make the most of the money available to them.”

The Scottish beef sector accounted for 22 per cent of Scottish agricultural output over the last 10 years, with beef production being the largest agricultural sector in Scotland. The sector has 11,400 employees on beef cattle holdings, and meat from beef suckler herds is highly valued due to its high marbling factor.

Sheep farming is a key agricultural use of rough grazing, with 8800 employed on specialist sheep holdings in Scotland. In 2011, specialist sheep businesses in the LFA (Less Favoured Areas) accounted for 20 per cent of Scotland’s SFP recipients and 6 per of total direct payments.

The Scottish Upland Sheep Support scheme is one of the Scottish Government’s decisions as part of the new CAP arrangement from 2015. It is part of a package of measures designed to reward activity and eliminate as far as possible the so-called “slipper farmers”.

In order to be eligible for the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme a sheep producer must have homebred ewe hogs, no more than 200 ha of payment region 1 land, and 80 per cent of their holding must consist of land in payment region 3. Payment will be restricted to one ewe hog for every four hectares. The scheme is targeted at sheep production on the poorest quality land; other sheep producers are not eligible for this scheme, but will receive higher payments under the Basic and Greening Payments schemes.

Applications can be made online at https://www.ruralpayments.org

Notes to Editors

Funding breakdowns as follows: Beef £32.7 million and Sheep £6.1 million, but will depend on the euro / sterling exchange rate in force at the time of settlement.

Deadlines for claim submission are: Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme – midnight on 16 October 2015; and, Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme – midnight on 31 December 2015.

All applications for the schemes can be made through Rural Payments and Services, the Scottish Government’s online service, which allows applications to be submitted securely, checked for completeness prior to submission and provides and acknowledgement of submission.

Paper applications will also be accepted for these schemes. They should be submitted through local area offices. Applications for the Sheep Upland Support Scheme must be submitted through the Inverness area office only, with forms being sent to: RPID, Longman House, 28 Longman Road, Inverness, IV1 1SF.

Should customers require support from their local area offices in using the new services, appointments can be booked online by visiting http://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/customer-services/book-an-appointment/