Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gibson calls for safeguarding of Highland rail route to London

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has written to the Patrick Harvie (convenor of the Scottish Parliament transport committee) asking for the Committee to make a submission to the UK Government's consultation on the future of the East Coast Main line advocating the safeguarding of the Inverness to London rail route.

Mr Gibson's letter came following a debate in the UK Parliament where Ministers refused to give assurances that the line would not be downgraded. However it was announced that there would be full public consultation on the new franchise (which was taken over from National Express by the Government recently).

A regular commuter to Edinburgh on the service Mr Gibson said that the Highland Chieftain train to London Kings Cross should not be downgraded....

"This is a vital link for the Highlands for both business and travelers alike as well as the excellent crew on board. Any threat to that service must be fully countered. I think that a submission on behalf of the transport Committee of the Scottish Parliament would be a strong non partisan point which would help protect the route from any potential downgrading."

"In an era of climate change it is important that green modes of travel are encouraged. Any loss of service would send out the wrong message especially after Scotland has passed the most ambitious climate change targets in the world."

"Any downgrading would also make the Highlands a less accessible place. It has already suffered from the loss of direct routes to Heathrow, so a reduced service to the centre of London (as well as the other stops on the line, including Edinburgh Newcastle and York) would be an undoubted blow."

"I hope that the Transport Committee will follow developments of the East Coast Main line and stand up for the future of the Highland rail route."

Mr Gibson also urged business and other passengers throughout the Highlands and Islands to make a submission to support a continuation of the current daily service from Inverness to London.



The Highland Chieftain Service runs from Inverness to London's Kings Cross (and back again) daily.

It stops at: Aviemore, Kingussie, Pitlochry, Perth, Gleneagles, Stirling, Falkirk, Haymarket, Edinburgh Waverly, Newcastle, York and London Kings Cross

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Local businesses must be at centre of John O' Groat's future - Gibson

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has said that HIE has to listen to and act on local people's suggestions following the announcement of a further consultation on the future of the landmark.

The new consultation costing £40,000 will be the third so far and brings the total amount spent on studies by HIE into the tourist spot to over £77,000.

Mr Gibson said that this had to be the final study….

"Too many studies about the John O' Groats tourist area have yielded no sensible proposals. So this time it has to work and there is a simple solution. Put the derelict hotel and other assets into the hands of local businesses. This is a view which is shared by the Caithness Chambers of Commerce and the wider community."

"I have spent time talking to some businesses at John O' Groats and it is clear that they know what is best for that area so this consultation needs to not only listening to their ideas but actually act on them. Anything less will be a costly and pointless exercise as has been the case with the previous HIE funded research for John O' Groats."

One outcome which is vital is that the eye sore which is the derelict hotel be repatriated to local hands by compulsory purchase if necessary. It is time to say farewell to the company from a far which exploits the unique cultural heritage of John O' Groats. A vibrant use for the iconic hotel is a prerequisite to the rejuvenation of the site. Local ownership is the best way to make that happen."


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Gibson calls for statement from board

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called for a statement of support for Wick Maternity Unit following weeks of rumour and speculation.

Mr Gibson has contacted both NHS Highland and the Scottish Government since being contacted himself over concerns that the Unit was to be down graded or closed.

Mr Gibson says he has been satisfied that responses he has received from NHS Highland making it very clear that there is no threat to the future status of the Unit and that it will not be downgraded.

He also received a response from Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon who said that she had been updated on the situation and would be kept up to date.

Mr Gibson said…

"There needs to be a clear and definitive answer from top management at NHS Highland to help dispel these unsubstantiated rumours. From the responses I have received there is no threat. However until an explanation of the situation is explained rumours will continue to run rampant."

"I appreciate the statements from NHS Highland so far which say that this current anomalie has been staffing related. However there needs to be clarity and that needs to come from the from the chairman of the board."