Skye and Raasay election: ‘People here do want the break up of Highland Council’

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The future of Highland Council could be a hot election topic on the doorsteps in Skye and Raasay.

Councillor and area committee chairman John Gordon has said people on the islands are impatient for change.

‘One of the election issues in Skye and Raasay will be the break up of Highland Council,’ said Mr Gordon.

‘Locally, people have been talking of a west coast council or going in with the Western Isles. I’m not sure the status quo will be acceptable to the folk here. They do want the break up of the Highland Council.’

Mr Gordon is not standing for re-election. Instead, he intends to fight for justice for his late father and the other residents who died at Home Farm care home.

Skye and Raasay is a four-member ward, which is currently served by Mr Gordon, John Finlayson, Calum MacLeod and Calum Munro.

Independents Mr Finlayson and Mr Munro have declared they will stand for re-election in Skye and Raasay.

The other candidates are Jack Clark, Scottish liberal Democrats; Donald MacDonald, Independent; Hector Macleod for the Alba Part for Independence; Drew Miller, SNP; Peter Ó Donnghaile, Scottish Labour; Ruraidh Stewart, Scottish Conservative and Unionist; and Fay Thomson, Independent.

It reflects a wider picture of change, with about a quarter of councillors expected to stand down.

Many outgoing councillors are battle-scarred from a term marked by budget pressures, the pandemic and an increasingly frustrated electorate.

Mr Gordon said people have made it clear they want ‘more localised government, with decision making’.

In December, a Conservative motion to dismantle the council failed by just four votes. Faced with escalating bills for roads, schools and housing, many believe Highland Council is not equipped to tackle the challenge.

In Skye and Raasay, Mr Gordon says the council’s investment ‘is not going to touch what is really needed’.

And he continued: ‘It’s not only our roads but the pavements in more populated areas that are crumbling, despite extra money from the council, which is welcome.
But the problems continue in housing.

‘Housing is a real crisis, which is now affecting the economy. People can’t afford to live here due to rising house costs.’

Mr Gordon is calling for a strategy to balance the demands of tourism and the needs for local housing. A similar picture is emerging in Badenoch and Strathspey, with area chairman Bill Lobban branding it a ‘housing emergency.’

However, there is a ray of hope in the Skye and Raasay investment plan.

‘Major infrastructure is needed across both islands,’ added Mr Gordon.

‘The development of the Skye and Raasay future plan could bring major investment to the area. One priority in the new council is navigating this plan and seeing the plan attract money that is so badly needed.’

CAPTION:

Chairman of the Isle of Skye and Raasay Area Committee John Gordon.

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