Meet the can­di­dates hop­ing for your vote in next month’s coun­cil elec­tion

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

Su­san Carstairs Scot­tish Labour, ward 11

I grew up in Ed­in­burgh and worked for 20 years in Lon­don with refugees from Chile and other coun­tries.

I’ve been in the High­land since 1992, work­ing at the Ari­saig Ho­tel from 1994 to 1997, and for the last 18 years on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues in Lochaber and across the High­lands with Lochaber En­vi­ron­men­tal Group and the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. Over the last 35 years, wealth has shifted from the pub­lic sec­tor to the pri­vate and a shift from pub­lic con­trol to free mar­ket con­trol. Both these changes have dam­aged so­ci­ety and left us with­out funds to run our hos­pi­tals, trans­port, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial care.

Scot­land has par­tially re­sisted the trend for pri­vati­sa­tion but lo­cal govern­ment is starved of funds to pro­vide es­sen­tial ser­vices. High­land Coun­cil has made stren­u­ous ef­forts to do more with less but a new ar­range­ment is needed to pro­vide the re­sources needed.

The en­vi­ron­ment is a pri­or­ity for me. We should de­velop a pro­gramme for sus­tain­able land use across Lochaber in­volv­ing farm­ers, landown­ers, busi­nesses and res­i­dents. Pro­tect our valu­able peat­land car­bon, in­crease lo­cal food pro­duc­tion, make max­i­mum use of our re­new­able en­ergy gen­er­a­tion po­ten­tial, raise re­cy­cling rates and the take up of com­post­ing, im­prove pub­lic trans­port and en­sure our deer and other wildlife are man­aged sus­tain­ably.

Al­lan Hen­der­son In­de­pen­dent, ward 11

Hav­ing had the plea­sure of serv­ing the Caol and Mal­laig ward in High­land Coun­cil for the past 10 years, firstly as Provost of Lochaber and for the last two years as chair­man of com­mu­nity ser­vices, I re­alise how im­por­tant it is to be an experienced coun­cil­lor.

As I go round can­vass­ing and see­ing the de­lights of Lochaber, it is also grat­i­fy­ing to be told at the door, you can keep the leaflet, I have al­ready voted for you.

I am proud to claim I have been able to se­cure more fund­ing for coun­cil con­trolled roads against a back­ground of fall­ing bud­gets.

I will con­tinue to press for an A82 up­grade, not just on Loch Lomond side but all the way to In­ver­ness.

Work­ing closely with in­dus­try to fully achieve all the am­bi­tious pos­si­bil­i­ties for Lochaber is a prime goal. Fer­ries, trains and buses, as well as roads in­fra­struc­ture all play a big part in link­ing Lochaber.

There are won­der­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties to be grasped and, pro­vided I am re- elected, I in­tend to con­tinue to work self­lessly along with my col­leagues, to put Lochaber first and fore­most.

If re- elected I in­tend to con­tinue with a pub­lic pres­ence and be avail­able seven days.

Wil­liam MacLach­lan SNP, ward 11

Born at Tor­lundy, I am pas­sion­ate about Lochaber, its people, his­tory and cul­ture. My mother was born at Lochailort, with his­toric ties to Ari­saig, Mal­laig and Caol.

I will strongly sup­port ef­forts to re­tain the CAP pay­ments and fu­ture govern­ment sub­si­dies to farm­ing and croft­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

I have 11 years’ experience as a clerk/con­sta­ble to a large com­mon graz­ing.

Ex­cit­ing times for Lochaber. I will be ex­tremely sup­port­ive of pre­sent and fu­ture de­vel­op­ments to bring both eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits to all people in the area.

I will pro­mote fur­ther in- depth discussions to the planned link road be­tween Caol and Fort Wil­liam.

The fish­ing in­dus­try, go­ing through a wor­ry­ing time, will have my sup­port, re­gard­less of Brexit, to gain a fair and eq­ui­table fu­ture.

Past ex­pe­ri­ences cover: six years as High­land Re­gional coun­cil­lor, reg­u­lar mil­i­tary ser­vice – Ger­many and Mid­dle East, 12 years’ man­age­ment posts in the ho­tel and ca­ter­ing trade, first re­spon­der ser­vice and sev­eral years a mem­ber of Lochaber’s com­mu­nity car scheme.

Liam Simmonds In­de­pen­dent, ward 11

I am 22 years old and I am a lo­cal per­son who is stand­ing for the Caol and Mal­laig ward.

As an In­de­pen­dent I have the experience of pre­vi­ously be­ing elected twice as a com­mu­nity coun­cil­lor for Caol. Dur­ing my time as a com­mu­nity coun­cil­lor, I have sat in on many meet­ings to lis­ten to your lo­cal concerns. These in­clude the new Gaelic school and Lochy­side De­vel­op­ment Plan and Caol Gala.

I come from a work­ing- class back­ground; not from wealth or priv­i­lege. My first job was work­ing in a kitchen at Mor­risons for £7.20 an hour.

I am an ar­dent Euro scep­tic and I cam­paigned for the UK to leave the EU. If elected my main pri­or­i­ties are: Putting com­mu­ni­ties first Abol­ish Brown Tax Abol­ish coun­cil­lors ex­penses sav­ing £300,000 pa 30 per cent pay cut to all coun­cil­lors sav­ing £300,000 pa More dis­abled park­ing spa­ces More fund­ing for af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble hous­ing that suits every­one in our com­mu­nity

Sav­ing our bus ser­vice from fu­ture cuts Bet­ter fund­ing for men­tal health, dis­abil­ity sup­port and de­men­tia care.

De­nis Rixon Lib­eral Demo­crat, ward 11

I have lived in Mal­laig for more than 40 years where I was a school teacher and owned a small book­shop.

I am run­ning as a Lib­eral Demo­crat be­cause our party has al­ways cham­pi­oned ‘lo­cal­ism’. We want to keep power close and ac­count­able. We don’t favour cen­tral­i­sa­tion or over­mighty govern­ment. Pri­or­i­ties: Busi­ness – all politi­cians want to max­i­mize so­cial ben­e­fits. But to do this we need a strong lo­cal econ­omy. Sup­port­ing small busi­ness is crit­i­cal whether in fish­ing, croft­ing, re­tail, tourism or a ser­vice in­dus­try.

Hous­ing – too many young people can’t even reach the bot­tom rung of the hous­ing lad­der. Old people, and those with special needs, may find their houses need to be adapted.

Our re­quire­ments change as we go through life. We could be much more proac­tive in search­ing out new architectural ideas and new de­sign con­cepts – try googling ‘tiny house’ to see what I mean. I don’t want to push people into shoe­boxes but can’t we pro­vide more flex­i­ble so­lu­tions?

Trans­port and dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity – in a ru­ral area com­mu­ni­ca­tions are crit­i­cal for people, freight and dig­i­tal data. Whether it’s bus con­nec­tions, pot­holes, broad­band or the on­go­ing ferry fi­asco in Mal­laig, this issue de­mands con­stant attention and in­vest­ment.

Ben Thomp­son In­de­pen­dent, ward 11

Lochaber is be­ing let down by lo­cal govern­ment in Scot­land. Our concerns and pri­or­i­ties are not lis­tened to. Our com­mu­nity coun­cils feel ig­nored.

Since first be­com­ing a coun­cil­lor two-and- half-years ago, it has be­come ever more clear to me that we need con­trol of Lochaber is­sues here – where lo­cal folk are heard and lis­tened to by lo­cal de­ci­sion mak­ers. I believe po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial con­trol lo­cally will lead to bet­ter pub­lic ser­vices and a proper engagement with com­mu­nity de­mands. My top pri­or­i­ties are:

1 The re­turn of bud­gets and de­ci­sion mak­ing from In­ver­ness coun­cil­lors to Lochaber com­mu­ni­ties.

2 Pro­tect our ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial care ser­vices against govern­ment cut­backs.

3 Safer, im­proved streets and roads, in­clud­ing wider, faster adop­tion of 20mph lim­its in res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

4 Es­tab­lish Com­mon Good Fund(s) for Lochaber so we can start to en­joy the same sort of ameni­ties as In­ver­ness.

5 Build qual­ity hous­ing de­ter­mined by lo­cal needs, not what govern­ment tar­gets tell us to build, so our young fam­i­lies can rent or buy de­cent homes.

If elected I will be a full-time coun­cil­lor, read­ily avail­able to any­one across my ward.

As a true in­de­pen­dent, the needs of my con­stituents will al­ways be my first pri­or­ity.

An­drew Bax­ter In­de­pen­dent, ward 21

Since be­fore my elec­tion in 2012, I’ve been a de­ter­mined com­mu­nity cam­paigner will­ing to stand up for our area.

As an in­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor, I am ac­count­able to res­i­dents, not to a po­lit­i­cal party. This means giv­ing Lochaber a stronger voice in In­ver­ness, where so many mat­ters af­fect­ing our ev­ery­day lives are de­cided.

On nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions in In­ver­ness, I’ve made other out- of-touch politi­cians sit up and take no­tice of our needs on the West Coast. I was at the fore­front of high­light­ing the un­fair fares on the Cor­ran Ferry, pos­si­bly the most ex­pen­sive wa­ter cross­ing in the UK. Now the coun­cil recog­nises a long-term so­lu­tion is needed.

Years of per­se­ver­ance forced the coun­cil to re­think its win­ter grit­ting pol­icy, mean­ing our roads can be grit­ted ear­lier than be­fore. I’ve taken up the concerns of coun­cil ten­ants faced with es­ca­lat­ing elec­tric­ity bills, be­cause of outdated and in­ef­fi­cient stor­age heaters, forc­ing the coun­cil to re­assess houses and in­stall new sys­tems.

My main pledge is to con­tinue this record of ac­tion; fight­ing our cor­ner and get­ting the best deal for Lochaber res­i­dents.

Lochaber still needs a strong voice fight­ing our cor­ner and that’s my pri­or­ity if re- elected on May 4.

Blair Al­lan SNP, ward 21

If elected, I will do my up­most to help make Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan an even bet­ter area in which to live and work.

I have spent all my work­ing life in so­cial hous­ing and have been chief ex­ec­u­tive of Lochaber Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion since 2004, so you would ex­pect me to have a keen in­ter­est in en­sur­ing we pri­ori­tise af­ford­able hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. I have also de­vel­oped an un­der­stand­ing and pas­sion about the wider is­sues that con­front ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. I know, too, what im­pact aus­ter­ity has had on many people, in­clud­ing our most vulnerable. So, I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of lo­cal ser­vices in help­ing to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties to con­front these hard times and to thrive. I am also proud to stand for elec­tion as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Scot­tish Na­tional Party, which has achieved so much na­tion­ally and lo­cally through poli­cies in­clud­ing free pre­scrip­tions, free stu­dent tu­ition, the coun­cil tax freeze and al­le­vi­at­ing the fi­nan­cial bur­den im­posed by the bedroom tax. I want to help ad­dress the is­sues lo­cal people care about, such as im­prov­ing the A82, the fund­ing of Fort Wil­liam’s se­condary link road and the avail­abil­ity of qual­ity res­i­den­tial and nurs­ing care.

I hope the people of Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan will con­tinue to sup­port a party that cares about people and is com­mit­ted to min­imis­ing so­cial in­jus­tice.

Sally Sem­ple, Scot­tish Labour, ward 21

I’ve lived and worked across the world but Morvern has been my home since the 1960s.

I went to school in Locha­line and Glas­gow, and trained in ar­chi­tec­ture and engi­neer­ing. I have worked on the de­sign and con­struc­tion of hous­ing, care homes and schools across the High­lands and Is­lands. I’m cur­rently re­search­ing a PhD on res­i­den­tial en­ergy use and am based in my fam­ily home on Loch Drum­buie.

It was an hon­our to be se­lected as the Scot­tish Labour can­di­date for Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan and I’m hop­ing to rep­re­sent the people of Lochaber at High­land Coun­cil.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment’s cuts to High­land Coun­cil mean that sav­ings of £20 mil­lion have to be found in the year ahead and this threat­ens our in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices – from schools and bus ser­vices to road re­pairs and new hous­ing – across Lochaber.

The in­vest­ment plans for the Fort Wil­liam smelter, the de­vel­op­ment of the Belford Hospi­tal and the ex­pan­sion of West High­land College are all great news for Lochaber but these de­vel­op­ments – and all of us – need re­li­able trans­port, bet­ter roads and de­cent af­ford­able hous­ing.

I want to en­sure Lochaber’s ser­vices are pro­tected from these cuts so our com­mu­ni­ties can flour­ish and grow.

Joanne Mathe­son In­de­pen­dent, ward 21

I hope to per­suade people to put their party po­lit­i­cal opin­ions to one side and select the can­di­dates they believe will achieve the most for our area.

I chose to stand as an In­de­pen­dent to have the free­dom to rep­re­sent the views and concerns of our area with­out be­ing told how to vote. Re­mote ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties at­tract vis­i­tors and thereby sup­port our econ­omy through tourism. Suit­able, sym­pa­thetic and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment should be un­der­taken to cre­ate jobs, pro­tect the land­scape and im­prove the lives of res­i­dents. High­land Coun­cil de­liv­ers ser­vices ac­cord­ing to its own pri­or­i­ties, largely de­cided be­hind closed doors. We need to in­crease open and hon­est two-way dia­logue and en­sure de­ci­sion mak­ers are held to ac­count. We un­der­stand bud­gets are shrink­ing but we de­mand greater un­der­stand­ing of how fi­nances are as­signed and greater in­volve­ment in de­ci­sion mak­ing. We need to work to­wards en­sur­ing every­one is en­abled to fully par­tic­i­pate in the life they wish for them­selves. I’ve lived in Achar­a­cle for 13 years, since mov­ing here with my Scot­tish hus­band and eight-year- old daugh­ter, with twins on the way. Our youngest two daugh­ters now at­tend Lochaber High School. I’m a com­mu­nity coun­cil­lor and trea­surer of Three Lochs Book and Arts Festival and I was in­stru­men­tal in re-launch­ing Made in Lochaber.

Niall McLean SNP, ward 21

I was born in Fort Wil­liam in 1978 and at­tended school in the High­lands be­fore go­ing to college in Glas­gow at 16.

Af­ter college I trav­elled round the world then re­turned to Bal­lachul­ish where I started a busi­ness pro­vid­ing Geotech­ni­cal and rope ac­cess ser­vices around the UK and Ire­land. I have sub­se­quently started other busi­nesses in many fields. I have grown my busi­nesses to be multi-na­tional, steer­ing them to success in a fi­nan­cially trou­bling time. I re­alise the im­por­tance of small and medium-sized busi­ness op­er­at­ing in our area and I would fight for max­i­mum sup­port for busi­ness. I have an un­der­stand­ing of our com­mu­nity and im­prove­ments needed to sup­port the de­vel­op­ing sit­u­a­tion in our stun­ning and po­ten­tially very pros­per­ous part of the world. I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of re­tain­ing young people in our com­mu­nity and look­ing out for the el­derly. I con­sider busi­ness and the con­ser­va­tion of our nat­u­ral and cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment key to our on­go­ing success. I strongly believe in the poli­cies of the Scot­tish Na­tional Party. I strongly believe in com­mu­nity and re­spect.

If elected I plan to use prob­lem solv­ing and man­age­ment skills built through my busi­ness experience to fight for the people of our ward. I will al­ways put the com­mu­nity in our ward above all else.

Trevor Es­cott Lib­eral Deomo­crat, ward 21

It won’t be a surprise to any­one that the chal­lenges posed by Brexit and the divi­sion of opin­ion caused by a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum will be at the top of the agenda.

Lib­eral Democrats are crys­tal clear in our an­swer. We say no to a hard-brexit and no to in­de­pen­dence.

We are the only party com­mit­ted to Scot­land’s place in the UK, and the UK’s place in Europe.

How­ever, Lib­eral Democrats will not lose sight of lo­cal is­sues.

As a former GP and former chair­man of Men’s Health High­land, I know how im­por­tant it is that High­land Coun­cil in­te­grates health and so­cial care and sup­ports our doctors and nurses to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble care.

That can only be pro­vided with proper cen­tral fund­ing. Lib­eral Democrats will there­fore con­tinue to fight to end SNP Govern­ment un­der­fund­ing of NHS High­land.

A vote for the Lib­eral Democrats is also a vote to im­prove lo­cal trans­port and fix our roads, to in­crease broad­band speeds and mo­bile phone cov­er­age, for a trans­for­ma­tional in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion and much needed ac­tion to tackle shock­ing lev­els of fuel poverty faced by over half of High­land homes.

This is our con­sis­tent of­fer at this elec­tion and be­yond.

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