Election hopefuls grilled by elderly and disabled

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Candidates for the upcoming council election gathered together to answer questions and address concerns from elderly and disabled people and their carers at a hustings hosted by the Lochaber Disability Access Panel (LDP).

Present at the hustings, which took place on Wednesday April 20 in the St Andrews Church hall, were Allan Henderson, Ben Thompson, Billy MacLachlan, Susan Carstairs and Denis Rixson for Caol and Mallaig, and Andrew Baxter, Joanne Matheson, Niall McLean and Sally Semple for Fort William and Ardnamurchan.

Education was the first topic being discussed, specifically concerns over cutbacks affecting provision of pupil support assistants and other resources for youngsters with additional support needs (ASN).

Also touched upon was the lack of coherent structured services for autistic children leaving school in Lochaber, which, for some on the spectrum, is when they are just getting ready to learn.

The candidates were also asked to sign up to the Alzheimer’s Election 2017 pledge to support those living with dementia and their families and carers.

Planning applications were discussed, with the candidates asked about how they will make sure local people and community councils are properly consulted on planning applications and developments.

Candidates were also asked what they would do to ensure public views are taken into consideration when it comes to bus operators taking on council contracts.

They were also asked for their views and suggestions regarding the lack of fit-for-purpose housing which is accessible to all in Lochaber.

LDP chairman Arthur Cowie thanked the candidates for their time and answers. He also thanked the public for putting their questions.

He said: ‘It’s very pleasant to see so many people turning up and getting involved.’

He added that they had had some members of the public dropping out as a result of the announcement of the general election saying he believed some were suffering ‘election apathy’.