With regards to the upcoming Scottish Parliament election the Corncrake will  attempt to feature statements from different candidates. This month we have a short piece from current Argyll & Bute MSP, Michael Russell.

Five years ago, during the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, I spent a few hours campaigning in Colonsay.  I knocked a few doors, visited the shop and had a drink in the hotel bar.  Even that visit brought home to me that there were things that needed to change and that the Council and the Scottish Goverment needed to get on with changing them. 

Now, after a first term as the Argyll & Bute MSP I think I know a bit more about most of the area and I have been back to Colonsay on a regular basis to hold surgeries and to discuss key issues with people who are still  affected by poor broadband, ferries that don’t run and the need for housing so that the community can stabilise and hopefully expand.

The Scottish Parliament constituency of Argyll and Bute has 23 inhabited islands within it , and a big chunk of the western seaboard of mainland Scotland.  It is an area that is losing population faster than almost anywhere else in our country and which is very dependent on communication links – physical and digital – and on Council and Government policy.  Cutbacks from Westminster have not helped the  Scottish  Government but progress has been, and is being, made. 

Over the past five years I have taken up a whole range of issues for local people but my priority now is to  ensure continued  delivery of  improvements in the ferry service and in the telecommunications infrastructure.  RET has been helpful but until we have more ferries built (and two are now under construction on the Clyde) and a more reliable service then there will still be grounds for complaint.  That is also true of the broadband and mobile phone services but the good news is that both of those issues have been and continue to be the subject of huge investment by the SNP Scottish Government after many years of neglect.  The effect of that investment will, I am sure, be clearly seen in the coming few years.

Colonsay has also needed support from HIE and a range of other bodies as the community considers how it can invest in its own future and particularly how it can secure more housing and retain and build its population.  I have been involved in that process and want to go on supporting it.

The job of the constituency MSP is to make him or herself accessible to every person in the area and to speak up for them and their community in Parliament and to public and private bodies that are not delivering.  I hope I have done that for Colonsay and for the whole of Argyll & Bute and I further hope to go on doing it with the support of  Colonsay after the 5th of May.

Thank you Mike for your contribution.

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