Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell is calling for constituents to help in the Scottish Government’s plans to bring an end to unfair parcel delivery charges.

 

Across Scotland, but particularly in rural constituencies like Argyll and Bute thousands of consumers are paying more for parcel deliveries often at an extreme and unnecessary excess.

 

Presently only the UK Government can regulate parcel delivery but they believe that this is unnecessary despite all the evidence. Campaigning lead by Richard Lochhead MSP and strongly supported by Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell is mounting pressure on the UK Government to change their stance on this matter.

 

This week the Scottish Governments Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills – Jamie Hepburn – wrote to all MSP’s highlighting the developments of his ‘Fairer Deliveries for All’ action plan which he launched in November of last year. This includes plans to create a Scottish Parcel Delivery Map which will highlight the specific issues caused by unfair delivery charges as well as showing which parts of the country are the worst affected.

 

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell is asking his constituents to get involved with this process by completing the new Scottish Government survey at www.resolver.co.uk/parcels

 

Commenting, Michael Russell MSP said:

 

“Consumers in Argyll and Bute are consistently affected by this issue. I have received numerous representations from constituents who are fed up paying such extreme charges, especially when they know that most do not face this additional cost. This can even make everyday items unaffordable, leaving those living in rural Scotland at a major disadvantage.

 

Whilst the decision to bring an end to these charges presently lie with the UK Government, The Scottish Government is working hard to bring more focus to the issue and highlight the extent of the issue.

 

I would encourage anyone who has experienced unfair charges, or indeed complete refusal to deliver to their address which is also often the case, to complete the online survey and ensure their voice and indeed the voice of Argyll and Bute is heard.”

Constituency MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell, has said that the Tories’ “narrow-minded Brexit rhetoric” is to blame for a fall in the number of overseas workers coming to Scotland, and warned that this may cause damage to the economy and public services.

Latest figures from the DWP show an 18% drop in the number of National Insurance registrations by overseas workers coming to Scotland between 2015 and 2018.

Argyll and Bute has been hit with a 22% drop in migrant workers’ registrations since 2015.

The figures reinforce warnings that Argyll and Bute faces a demographic crisis that could hammer public services – as an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers.

All of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration.

Analysis by the Scottish Government has found that Westminster proposals to cut migration to the tens of thousands would cost the Scottish economy up to £10 billion per year by 2040.

Commenting, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“The Tory government’s hostile approach to migration is failing Argyll and Bute.

“Their anti-immigrant obsession and narrow-minded Brexit rhetoric is driving people away from Scotland, and putting vital public services here in Argyll and Bute on the line.

“The simple fact is that without inward migration our working-age population will decline, making it harder to fund vital public services like hospitals and schools in the future.

“It is now imperative for Scotland to have the powers to set an immigration policy which suits our specific needs and recognises the huge benefits migrant workers being to our economy and society.”

SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell, has called on Argyll and Bute Council to make the most of its funding allocation from the Scottish Government’s £50 million Town Centre Fund.

Announced by SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay during his budget statement, the new fund aims to drive local economic growth by helping town centres fund projects such as re-purposing buildings for retail, business and community enterprise, while improving access and infrastructure.

After allocations were announced this week by the Scottish Government, it has now been confirmed that Argyll and Bute will receive a share of £1,242,000 from the new ring-fenced fund.

Commenting, SNP MSP Michael Russell said:

“This funding announcement can help transform town centres throughout Argyll and Bute.

“The health of our town centres is vital to the economic and cultural life of our communities – and this new investment can make a real difference.

“Argyll and Bute Council must now ensure that the £1,242,000 is spent wisely and ensure our local town centres reap the benefits of this huge investment.

“The SNP’s Town Centre Fund is part of a wider package of business support measures that will help drive economic activity in Argyll and Bute, helping give our local high streets a welcome boost.”

“Local people are being used in a game of contractual brinkmanship”.

 

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has urged Argyll and Bute Council and the current provider of Islands air Service paid for by the Council to “step away from the brink” after the Council announced the service would be suspended for at least six weeks from mid-May following a failure to agree a new tender.

Mr Russell said:

“This is almost an exact repetition of the situation that arose in May 2015 when once again the Council said the service would have to be suspended as it could not agree a new tender.

On that occasion common sense in the end prevailed, after the affected communities of Coll, Tiree and Colonsay had made their extreme concern and anger known and after they had asked me to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament.

Once again, however, it seems as if local people are being used in a game of contractual brinkmanship. It is likely that the difficulty remains the cost that the Council can pay, and the price that the contractor wants to receive. That should be a matter for discussion and negotiation and I would urge both sides to step away from the brink and ensure that a settlement is reached well before the expiry date of the current arrangement.

There are two additional elements that need to be understood and acted on. One is the fact that news about this matter was given to the media before islanders and their representatives were informed, which is in clear breach of the spirit of the Islands Act.

The second is that these services are lifelines and any threat to lifelines causes extreme worry in remote communities. There should have been no question of this situation arising given past experience and the management of the tender process has clearly fallen well short of an acceptable standard.

I have been in touch with the Council about this and have also written to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport. I hope that a resolution can be found very quickly indeed.