Community councils blast exclusion from A82 road summit
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.’