Trail Tales || I Will Drive 500 Miles

 

Driving miles across the constituency should be good for my mind. I've got hours to listen to classical music, informative discussions and even the odd audio book. 

But, the only radio waves intrepid enough to traverse our mountainous terrain is Radio 1. So instead of refining my taste with Mozart and Radio 4's Book of the Week, I'm singing along to Justin Bieber and Iggy Azalea. 

(Did you just ask, 'Who?')

But maybe, the Proclaimers' '500 Miles' would have been more appropriate last week.

To listen, as you read, click here!

I jumped into a new car (new for me, most certainly not new to the world) on Monday night. I don't know if it was the A82, the A87 or, most likely, the A890 which destroyed the suspension in the last car. I do know it was a certain wall in Fort William which stripped one side of its silvery paint... 

First stop was Broadford, where I met local campaigners who've been hand delivering leaflets across Skye.

They've been pounding the peats, as a friend would say, in all manner of weather.

Hail, wind, rain and snow: surely SNP activists are the hardiest of them all?

The sun shone even brighter the next day as I drove through white mountains to Fort William. I'd hoped to meet people from Rio Tinto and Marine Harvest, to discuss the future. 

 Attracting more jobs and making the Highlands a prosperous place to do business are two of my key aspirations.

So, the last thing we want are job losses. I know that the Scottish Government, local MP Ian Blackford and MSP Dave Thompson share my aspirations and you can read more about what our local MSP is already doing to help Rio Tinto here and Marine Harvest here.

I am excited about Fort William's potential but we need to invest and build for the future.  I'm delighted that a plot of land has been purchased to ensure that a new Belford hospital is built as a matter of urgency. 

And, as I toured local businesses and chatted to local residents, I asked them what they'd like to see. Top of the list was the A82. As someone who drives on the A82 regularly, I can understand the frustrations. We've seen some upgrades, with the road expanded at Pulpit Rock, the new Crianlarich bypass and resurfacing of the road at Spean Bridge. But I realise that there is a lot more to be done. 

Attracting investment in our roads is critical.

I travelled further down the A82 to a wee village called Onich, where I met a few local community councillors at the Onich Tea Room. Its a great example of how a local business has diversified. It was originally a General Store, but now with competition from supermarkets, it has become a great wee cafe.

I want to ensure that decision-making happens at the lowest level because people in Lochaber know what the area needs more than people in Inverness or the central belt. 

Next stop was Kincraig, which is just south of Aviemore. Driving down the A9, I went through the road works which are dualling 5 miles of road between Kincraig and Dalraddy.

This work is long overdue - but it demonstrates how the SNP Government is investing in the Highlands. 

 

We knocked on doors in Kincraig, and then Kingussie the following day, in freezing conditions. The temperature was still -5 at noon on Friday. Maree Todd, who is first on the Highlands and Islands regional list joined us. Spot the rosette below!

You can find out more about Maree Todd here.

One of the concerns a voter raised was the Council Tax freeze and why the Government won't raise Council Tax.

You can find my answer here if this is a question that puzzles you too.

On Saturday, I set off early to get to a ladies meeting in Fort Augustus for 9:30am. There's a great quotation from the film, Suffragette (you can see the trailer here).  

"We don't want to be law-breakers. We want to be law-makers."

And, so on Saturday morning, we ladies debated and discussed solutions to the challenges we face in the Highlands. More power to communities was top of the list, but a regular bus service was a very close rival. 

 I downed my coffee and jumped in the car at 11am to get to Kingussie for lunch. Local activists served up a delicious homecooked lunch in Talla nan Ros. We discussed innovative solutions to our poor broadband service and even suggested bypassing broadband completely to improve mobile reception in order to access the internet that way.

 

From Broadford to Ballachulish, Kincraig to Conon Bridge, there is one common theme. Our supporters and activisits are second to none. Whether you're rustling up a delicious meal or leafleting in the rain, you consistently go over and beyond the call of duty. 

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Comments

Jimmy Waugh 4 years, 5 months ago

Very good excellent idea.

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