Com­mu­nity coun­cils blast ex­clu­sion from A82 road sum­mit

The Oban Times - - News -

THE Lochaber Times has learned that com­mu­nity coun­cils will not have a seat at the ta­ble for the A82 sum­mit, writes El­lie Forbes.

Chair­man of Bal­lachul­ish Com­mu­nity Coun­cil and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South Lochaber Com­mu­nity Coun­cils Kevin Smith re­ceived a let­ter from Trans­port Scot­land say­ing they will not be in­vited to at­tend the sum­mit on June 23 but can in­stead fill out a sur­vey form.

And it was said the sum­mit will be held in Cri­an­larich and not Fort Wil­liam as was pre­vi­ously re­ported.

It is be­lieved the A82 Part­ner­ship has been in­vited to the sum­mit.

Mr Smith said: ‘Surely a com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tive should be in­vited, even if it’s just to sit and lis­ten.

‘It’s the lack of con­sul­ta­tion that is so con­cern­ing to me.

‘No-one has any­thing against the A82 Part­ner­ship but who elected them? And how are they go­ing to rep­re­sent all of our com­mu­ni­ties?’

Iain Jen­ner, chair­man of Nether Lochaber Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, told the Lochaber Times he was ‘fu­ri­ous’.

He said: ‘This news flies in the face of the Com­mu­nity Em­pow­er­ment Act. I am all set to go and doorstep them at the sum­mit on June 23.

‘I can’t speak on be­half of any other com­mu­nity coun­cils, but my com­mu­nity is bi­sected by the trunk road.

‘It’s a defin­ing fea­ture of our com­mu­nity which af­fects our lives, so to not be able to give an opin­ion where we live and how any de­ci­sions may effect us is dis­ap­point­ing.

‘The trans­port author­ity has a his­tory of poor con­sul­ta­tion.

‘It comes up with a plan of what it wants to do, has an in­for­ma­tion day to say what ideas it has re­jected, and then tells us what its go­ing to do.

‘It’s not a con­sul­ta­tion, it’s just a tick-box ex­er­cise.

‘And the Com­mu­nity Em­pow­er­ment Act is meant to have changed all that. We are meant to have a say, which is why it’s so dis­ap­point­ing.

‘Com­mer­cial peo­ple will have a say, but the peo­ple whose lives will ac­tu­ally be phys­i­cally changed won’t.’

Fort Wil­liam and Arnd­na­mur­chan coun­cil­lor Andrew Bax­ter said: ‘So much for the trans­port min­is­ter want­ing a con­struc­tive dis­cus­sion about the A82, when civil ser­vants have dis­missed any in­volve­ment by com­mu­nity coun­cils.

‘It’s a dis­grace. It goes against the spirit of the gov­ern­ment’s new law that re­quires pub­lic bod­ies to en­able com­mu­ni­ties to take part in de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

‘De­ci­sions about the A82 will af­fect these com­mu­ni­ties for decades to come – they must be al­lowed to have a say.’

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