Ward 21 (Fort William and Ardnamurchan) election candidates – Angus MacDonald (LD)

Angus MacDonald who is standing in the election for Ward 21 for the Lib Dems. NO F17 Angus MacDonald (002)
Angus MacDonald who is standing in the election for Ward 21 for the Lib Dems. NO F17 Angus MacDonald (002)

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Angus MacDonald (Liberal Democrats)

First Minister, where is Lochaber’s money? Steadily, year after year local government has its budget cut, and more money and decision making move to Holyrood.

As the Fraser of Allander writes: ‘In the four years from 2013/14 the core local government settlement declined by £750 million in real terms, equivalent to a seven per cent reduction in its budget. By 2022/23 core local funding …is lower in real terms than it was in 2017/18’.

The vast majority of local authority budget is ‘ring fenced’ for education and social care. So if you want to know why there are so many potholes, roadside litter isn’t cleared up, why the Nevis Centre nor the Fort William underpass hasn’t been refurbished, and why all financial requests to the Highland Council seem to get rejected, the answer is the Scottish Government is starving rural Scotland of funds.

Is this Westminsters fault? Research by the Scottish Parliaments information centre shows that funding to Scottish councils was cut at three times that of the Scottish Government itself.

Can you name any significant infrastructure project that has happened in the last decade in Lochaber? I can’t.

The central belt gets billions, trams in Edinburgh, a new Forth Bridge, new motorways and hospitals. In 1999 Fergus Ewing promised major improvements to the A82 and to
replace the Belford Hospital, 23 years later we are still waiting.

The two CalMac ferries are showing a cost over-run of £160 million; if we had that money perhaps we could put a tunnel to Ardgour, or a tunnel where the bypass is and create a lovely sea front for Fort William.

Give us half the cost of the trams, or half the cost of the un-needed Forth Bridge and
we could make a remarkable difference to Lochaber.

If you want a councillor who will fight with government ministers and public sector bosses to get Lochaber’s share of funding, vote for Angus MacDonald.