Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has backed those on Mull who are protesting against the imposition of parking charges in Tobermory.

 

Dunoon commuters also at risk whilst lessons of Oban and Arrochar parking charges not being learnt.

 

Commenting, Mr Russell said

 

“The difficulties being experienced in Oban and in Arrochar as a result of the new parking rules set by Argyll and Bute Council should have given the council administration pause for thought. Instead they are bulldozing ahead with new restrictions for Mull and Dunoon, and both places are rightly beginning to realise that should the Traffic Orders go through it would mean bad news for residents and visitors alike.

 

I am particularly concerned that on Mull there has been very little thought given to Tobermory’s absolute dependence on tourism. If parking becomes difficult – and it will given the pressures on the town – people will just pass it by, or spend less time there, reducing the main source of income for the community. A slow, measured introduction of regulations and charges that assesses, and then constantly re-assesses, the impact of charging and new restrictions would be the right way forward, not this “Big Bang” which will – given what we have seen in other places – be resented and hugely detrimental.

 

I know that a significant petition has already been started and I am receiving a considerable volume of emails about the subject. As Councillors are receiving the same that should indicate to them that a re-think is required.

 

Dunoon of course already has charges but the new ones being proposed there will impact directly on commuters who park by or near the ferry piers in order to go to work across the water. The new yellow lines are already in place and unless the Council thinks again about the Traffic Order it wants then people are suddenly going to find that the cost of commenting has risen massively, as will the imposition of fines.

 

I have already made representations about the Oban and Arrochar charges but found no willingness to listen from the Council Administration. Given that Dunoon and Mull have, as their representatives, several members of that administration then I would urge local communities to make their voices heard to their councillors and to the Council in a last ditch attempt to get a pause whilst there are sensible discussions about a way forward.”

Following Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCP) announcement that an agreement has been made to build a dialysis unit in the Victoria Hospital, Rothesay, local MSP Michael Russell has praised the work of campaigners which has lead to this step forward.

 

Commenting on the news, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

 

“Kidney dialysis is a vital service and indeed one which many lives depend on. This news will mean that not only will those who live on the island and require dialysis no longer need worry about travelling to Inverclyde and beyond for treatment, it will be on their own doorstep.

 

Following the success of the dialysis treatment which became available in Campbeltown in 2015, and has been a huge success I am excited to see the Victoria Hospital mirror this success and dramatically improve the standards of living for Bute renal patients.

 

I would like to add my thanks to the Bute Kidney Patients Support Group and the Dr J N Marshall Memorial Trust for their work in delivering this news for Bute renal patients.”

Following the discovery on social media of American TV personality Larysa Switlyk promoting trophy hunting tours of the Isle of Islay, involving the use of sniper rifles to hunt wild goats and even sheep, local MSP Michael Russell has written to Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for the Environment asking that the matter be investigated urgently.

 

Commenting on the matter, Mr Russell said:

 

“Most people will agree that tourist trophy hunters in full camouflage gear taking and then tweeting pictures of each other holding high powered rifles and standing over the corpses of goats or even sheep has no place in 21st century Scotland.

 

This is also an unregulated activity, unlike deer stalking, and as far as I understand is not for meat. It is simply – as the associated company’s material makes clear – about the so called ‘enjoyment’ of hunting and killing animals and provides publicity for the “professional hunter” who appears to have a television series on US television.

 

For every person this may attract to Islay (hard as that is to imagine) there will be a thousand who will be repelled and horrified.

 

I am pleased that following my raising of this matter, the Cabinet Secretary and indeed the First Minister are reviewing the current situation and will consider whether changes to the law are required”

Reacting to the closure of the Rest and Be Thankful earlier this week, and the failure to open the Old Military Road Diversion after further landslips today, Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

 

“I was at the Rest this morning, as was the Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, though we were at different sides of the new slips that suddenly occurred as a result of torrential rain and high wind.

 

Personally, I have never seen more water coming off the hills, nor more extensive damage to the slopes. I know that the team from Transport Scotland and Bear are doing their utmost to get the roads open again but in these conditions they are working against severe odds. They deserve the community’s gratitude and support as they continue with their very difficult tasks.

 

I am more than aware of the inconvenience this closure causes to many of my constituents. On Wednesday my journey to Glasgow Airport from home took three hours, not the normal one and a half.  Last night coming back from Edinburgh very late I had to drive an extra 40 miles, which took an hour more than the normal trip. There is disruption to road haulage, normal journeys and special outings. Local business is losing money. It is frustrating and annoying and everyone wants – and needs – normal service to be resumed.

 

However the truly exceptional conditions of the weekend and the ongoing bad weather means that the road needs to be declared sustainably safe before that can happen. The presence of the nets and the partially completed work on the deep trenches has helped and indeed the trenches have prevented many closures in the last few years. Their presence also means that the task of clear up and re-opening will be more straight forward than it would otherwise have been once the go ahead can be given.

 

The reality is that on this occasion the sheer scale of the damage has been much larger and longer lasting than ever before, and more difficult to overcome but lessons need to be learnt from that too.

 

Along with local Councillors on both sides of the rest and the local MP I am pressing for an urgent meeting of the A83 Task Force to consider those lessons and ensure that the new Transport Minister is absolutely aware of the A83 as unfinished business which needs further action and investment.