Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has given his backing to residents of the village of Furnace on the A83 in Argyll who have submitted a petition to the Transport Minister demanding action after a spate of accidents on a stretch of the road between the village and Allt Na Ceardaich.

The Furnace Community Council has been calling for a 40 mph limit on this stretch but despite their attempts and approaches made previously by the MSP Transport Scotland is continuing to insist that the limit must remain at 50 mph.

Speaking after passing the petition to Derek MacKay , the Minister for Transport and the Islands, Mr Russell said:

“This is a long running dispute and whilst it continues lives remain at risk.   There have been a number of accidents on the stretch in question and local people who use the road and the pavement as well as those who live adjacent to the accident blackspots are going in daily fear of their lives.   However despite that Transport  Scotland remain intransigent.

Now 122 people living in the village – a sizeable part  of the population – have signed a petition organised by the Community Council which also indicates that most people want a further reduction to 30 mph in the village itself.

I hope the Minister will realise that the strength of feeling on this matter reflects genuine concern about the possibility of injury and fatalities if the current limits  remain and will therefore act quickly to enforce a change of heart by Transport Scotland”

MSP urges Argyll & Bute Council to use CEO vacancy to drive major change.

 Speaking after the announcement of the appointment of Sally Loudon,  Chief Executive of Argyll & Bute Council as the new Chief Executive of COSLA Michael Russell the MSP for Argyll & Bute said:

 “I have already congratulated Sally on her new appointment and wish her well in it.   Local Government in Scotland is at a cross roads and the role of CEO is a crucial one at this time.  I hope she will take to COSLA a new view of how local government must be made more local, something that COSLA itself was discussing prior to the Referendum.

 The potential effect of this unexpected change on Argyll & Bute is one that the Council needs to consider carefully.   I would urge the Council Leader not to drive forward a quick new appointment but instead to work across the Council to seek radical new solutions to improve local democracy and save money. 

 I would be happy to work with him to draw up appropriate proposals for different management structures and decentralisation which have been the subject of local discussion across Argyll & Bute for some considerable time and which will also help the Council to meet the budgetary challenges with which it is presently struggling and about the effects of which there is huge public disquiet and concern.

 The way forward does not lie in implementing the so called “Service Choices” agenda which is seriously weakening the Council and the area but instead in reforming the Council itself and how it delivers services.  There is now a new chance to do so.  It is not to be missed.”

Please see Michael Russell MSP Members’ Business Debate on the Celtic Rainforest by clicking here.

The motion was as follows:

Motion Number: S4M-14521
Lodged By: Michael Russell
Date Lodged: 14/10/2015

Title: ♦ Celtic Rainforest

Motion Text:

That the Parliament notes the work being done by Plantlife Scotland and others to celebrate and encourage the conservation of the Celtic rainforest; commends the involvement of a range of organisations in the project, including the National Trust for Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, John Muir Trust, Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre Trust Ltd and the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage; considers that the Celtic rainforest is a key feature of the West Coast Important Plant Area and is of significance because of the sheer diversity of species to be found there, including one of the largest lichens, the tree lungwort, which is an indicator of ancient woodland; recognises what it sees as the threats from habitat fragmentation and the impact of invasive Rhododendron, and notes calls to encourage schools, communities and visitors to support these activities.

Today’s closure is a setback but safety has to be paramount. None the less it is very important that local people and visitors continues to see progress with work on the A83 at the Rest & Be Thankful to guarantee continuous access. There is huge concern about the Rest as I know from my frequent discussions about it with Ministers and officials but the key message must be that Argyll is, and will remain, open for business. Anyone who gives a different impression will do damage to the area.

Last year, as a result of that the Scottish Government’s acceptance of the principle of continuous access, and because of the money already spent – over £40 million on the A83 in total so far – there were fewer closures than in previous years. But more needs to be done and I have asked for an urgent meeting of the task force to consider the latest difficulties and look at plans for more investment in practical solutions.

The closure on the 30th December was on a day that produced road closures across the country in unprecedented numbers. No road is immune from weather problems in such circumstances. If we all continue to work together we will continue to get progress. That is what I am focused on.