Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has submitted a formal objection to Argyll and Bute Council with regard to the proposals for draconian new parking restrictions and charges in Dunoon and on the Island of Mull.

 

Commenting on the proposals Mr Russell said:

 

The introduction of new parking charges and restrictions in Oban earlier this year has been a disaster and has had a severe effect on visitors, locals and on the residents of the island of Kerrera who were completely ignored by the process and who now cannot park their cars in the town, but can’t take them to the island either.

 

Arrochar was next to get these unwelcome changes and they have also caused chaos with many walkers and climbers deterred because of the massive jump in the cost of leaving a vehicle for the time needed to visit and climb the famous “Cobbler”.

 

Despite these issues the Council has simply ignored objections and a promise to review the Oban situation seems to have been quietly shelved.

 

Now the chaos is coming to Mull and Dunoon but there is still time to stop it if the public  – and councillors – object strongly enough.

 

In Dunoon there are already some charges in parts of the town centre. Now the proposal is to charge for the pier car park where commuters leave their vehicles every day. This will add £45 or £50 a week to the cost of commuting to Gourock which will be impossible to pay for many people. But there are virtually no alternatives and the Council has even been refreshing the yellow lines in the town to make clear that it will prosecute car owners who are just wanting to get to their work.

 

On Mull restrictions in Tobermory, at Craignure and at Fionnphort will all cause real problems. Tourism will be badly affected, including tourism for Iona, and those who travel regularly to Oban from Craignure – and some people do so every day – will be met with a similar scale of charges to those that are going to cause real hardship in Dunoon.  Dangerous and disruptive parking will increase and disputes about parking will intensify.

 

The Council has seen the evidence of these problems caused by the new policy in Oban. It should be pausing its plans to look at the issues in Dunoon and Mull with a fresh eye. Instead it is intending to bulldoze ahead despite massive community opposition and even opposition from Councillors who are part of the ruling Administration.

 

A public meeting on Mull this week will give Councillors the chance to show where they stand but action is going to be required rather than just words. Such action is also needed in Dunoon and members of the public also need to contact the Council to find out how to lodge a formal objection.

 

I have done so this week and I would urge the Council to think again and to seek a better way forward.

 

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.

 

 

Celebrating the 1807 potential lifesavers in Argyll and Bute this Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Residents in Argyll and Bute have been praised by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan for the people in their community who are registered as stem cell donors.

To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, Michael Russell MSP has revealed that Argyll and Bute is 1st in the Highlands and Island, and 5th of 73 overall in the country  for having the most stem cell donors on the register. Michael Russell MSP collected a certificate on behalf of Argyll and Bute from the charity at a reception on Thursday 20 September in the Scottish Parliament.

This achievement is being celebrated by Anthony Nolan as part of its Communities vs Blood Cancer campaign – which shines a spotlight on the vital work being done at a local level to ensure every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.

In Argyll and Bute, 1807 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan.

In total, more than 700,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.

Now, Michael Russell is encouraging more people from Argyll and Bute, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant. While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate. They provide more than 50% of donations yet make up just 16% of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Michael Russell MSP said: “I am very proud that Argyll and Bute has so many people who have selflessly volunteered to give someone a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I strongly hope that more people from our community will be inspired to sign up and show that together, we can provide a cure for blood cancer.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “Since 1974 thousands of caring, selfless people have joined the Anthony Nolan register and thousands of lives have been saved as a result.

This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. It’s wonderful to have the support of Argyll and Bute in achieving our goal of saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.”

For more information about the Community vs Blood Cancer campaign visit www.anthonynolan.org/communities

Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journeys.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell takes part in wear it pink event at Scottish Parliament for Breast Cancer Now

Michael Russell MSP for Argyll and Bute dazzled in pink as he pulled on some bright pink at the Scottish Parliament to encourage constituents to take part in wear it pink, on Friday 19 October.

 

Michael Russell joined fellow parliamentarians in Holyrood to encourage people across Scotland to get involved and take part on wear it pink day to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s research.

 

Michael Russell is calling for constituents in Argyll and Bute to join him, as well as thousands of others across the UK, to sign up and take part in wear it pink which takes place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to date has raised over £31million towards Breast Cancer Now’s important work.

 

Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day is one of the biggest fundraising events in the UK. Back for its 17th year, the fundraiser calls on supporters to ditch their everyday colours, and add a splash of pink to their outfit, to raise money for breast cancer research.

 

Michael Russell, constituency MSP for Argyll and Bute, said:

 

“Sadly, most of us know someone affected by this devastating disease – every year around 4,700 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Scotland and almost 1,000 people will die of it.  

 

 

“I am incredibly proud to be backing wear it pink this year and I would like to urge local people across my constituency to join me on Friday 19 October and show their support for Breast Cancer Now.

 

“As you can see from my photograph, taking part is easy, all it takes is an additional splash of pink to your normal outfit! It’s time to stand together, pull on some pink, and support Breast Cancer Now’s vital research – I hope you will all join me.

 

 

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

 

“We are really grateful for the enthusiasm and support shown by MSPs. Everyone looked fabulous in their pink accessories and showed just how easy it is to add a touch of pink to your everyday outfit. We hope that by wearing pink, Mr Russell will encourage constituents in Argyll and Bute to get involved and fundraise in their homes, schools or workplaces, and help us to continue to fund world-class research into this devastating disease.

 

Wear it pink is a fantastic opportunity for communities across the UK to come together, have fun and show their support to this very important cause. By simply wearing something pink and donating what you can, you are helping raise much-needed funds to stop breast cancer taking the lives of those we love. Together we can take one step forward to help reach our goal that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and live well.”

 

To take part in wear it pink this October, please visit wearitpink.org/2018msp for further details, fundraising ideas and how to register for your free fundraising pack.

Constituency MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell, joined MSP’s from across the Scottish Parliament to raise a cup to the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

Putting politics aside, Michael Russell MSP joined with Janice Preston, Macmillan Head of Services in Scotland for the charity’s flagship fundraising campaign which aims to raise millions to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can.

Last year thousands of people across the UK took part in a Coffee Morning event, raising around £27m for Macmillan. This year the total raised by Coffee Morning since it began in 1991 will pass the £200m mark. The official day for World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Friday 28th September but you can hold your own event at a time to suit you.

It couldn’t be more simple to get involved – all you need to do is get together with family, friends or colleagues over coffee and cake. You can register now for your free fundraising pack via the website – www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee – or find a Coffee Morning near you to get involved in.

Help people with cancer live life as fully as they can and find a Macmillan Coffee Morning in your community to attend this September. www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee

Difficulties being experienced by two vessels in the Cal Mac fleet which serve Arran have resulted in major disruptions to the services for Islay and Colonsay. Commenting on the Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

 

“Whilst everyone is aware of the problems of success that Cal Mac has been experiencing, including record numbers of passengers and greatly increased sailings, the recent problems have highlighted the absolute necessity of getting more vessels into the fleet and have also indicated potential weaknesses in operations and management that need to be addressed.

 

No one doubts the extraordinary hard work of Cal Mac staff in trying to overcome current issues but equally no one in the affected community should have to experience, once again, severe problems that are causing considerable personal difficulties for those who rely on lifeline services as well as a threat to key local, late season, tourist events. Such impacts, leading to economic and social damage, are unacceptable.

 

It is good news that there are two new vessels under construction though the delay to these is unfortunate. However CMAL has, apparently, been scouring the world for several years for a suitable additional vessel as a stop gap and has failed to find one. Most people who rely on ferry services do not understand that failure and want to see it overcome.

 

Cal Mac also needs to look again with urgency at its maintenance and refit routines. They have an aging fleet but passengers need to be assured that maintenance routines are being undertaken with sufficient regularity and that refits are being planned at times that don’t impinge on busy periods.

 

Kenny Gibson MSP and I have requested a meeting with the relevant Ministers in the Scottish Government, which would include representatives of the local Ferry Committees on Arran and Islay. We hope to make Ministers aware of the huge difficulties caused by this situation and make some concrete suggestions for the future. Whatever happens these problems cannot be allowed to continue, let alone happen again.”