Call for Lochaber peninsula to be transferred to Argyll council control

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Today’s (Thursday) meeting of The Highland Council will see a request for the local authority to consider the possibility of Ardnamurchan being transferred to the control of neighbouring Argyll and Bute Council.

Inverness South Ward Independent councillor, Duncan Macpherson, contacted the Lochaber Times this week following his recent visit to Kilchoan, at the westerly end of Ardnamurchan, to attend the funeral service of his late fellow councillor, Ian Ramon.

Councillor Duncan Macpherson (Inverness South) who has lodged a question for today's Highland Council meeting concerning Ardnamurchan. Photograph: The Highland Council. NO F44 Councillor Duncan Macpherson
Councillor Duncan Macpherson (Inverness South) who has lodged a question for today’s Highland Council meeting concerning Ardnamurchan. Photograph: The Highland Council.
NO F44 Councillor Duncan Macpherson

And Councillor Macpherson, who hails originally from Fort William, told the Lochaber Times how a number of local residents of the peninsula told him they felt abandoned by the Inverness-headquartered Highland Council.

‘I was saddened on the drive down by the condition of the roads, signage etc., and when I was speaking to people after the funeral they let me know that they felt exactly the same. Neglected,’ he commented.

‘It’s all well and good Highland Council bragging about being the largest council area in Scotland but it’s nothing to shout about unless it can maintain it all. It’s like a mother bragging that she has the most children out of anyone but then not being able to feed them all.

‘Hardly anyone I spoke to visits Inverness as the journey is a slow and arduous one with poor transport links. They say they have stronger links to Mull and Oban so it would make more sense for the area to be part of Argyll and Bute. It certainly gave us plenty to think about on the long drive home.’

It has resulted in Councillor Macpherson lodging a question to Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson for today’s meeting of the local authority, in which he states that while travelling around the Ardnamurchan peninsula he witnessed what he described as the ‘impoverished’ state of the single track roads, the lack of passing places and the many road signs barely legible due to fading and bleaching by the elements with discolouration and rusty poles.

Councillor Macpherson’s question continues: ‘It was therefore of little surprise to me when conversing with local residents on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula [which was formerly in the Argyll Council area], the local residents expressed their desire to once again be part of Argyll and Bute Council, whom they rely heavily on in the neighbouring Isle of Mull or at Oban, [both places are one or two ferry journeys away], for everyday services of doctors, dentist, pharmacy, shopping supplies and essential services.

‘The residents I spoke with stated that Argyll and Bute Council seemed better equipped to understand and support their remote and rural areas, rather than the residents currently feel, as the forgotten and neglected, remote part of Highland Council.

‘Would Highland Council be prepared to discuss making boundary changes with Argyll and Bute via the Scottish Government, if it helped the vast majority of the community on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula to feel better connected to a local authority that understood and practiced ‘Localism’ for its communities and constituents?’

Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor, Andrew Baxter, has long advocated that Highland Council was ‘too big and remote’ to service the needs of West Coast rural communities.

Councillor Andrew Baxter
NO F40 Andrew-Baxter

Commenting on Councillor Macpherson’s question, he told us that, in his view, Highland Council was dominated by Inverness centric-thinking.

‘We can see that with the multi-millions spent on converting the castle to become a so called gateway to the Highlands. I do think it is time we broke up the Highland Council. Exact boundaries would be a matter for debate but I can see some form of West Coast Council including Lochaber, Oban and Mull as a sensible way forward.’