Tuesday, 28 September 2010


News release
immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed North
Highland local planning committee's rejection of a proposed
potato store
and grading station. On prime croft land at Arabella, Easter Ross.

He said,

"Cllr George Farlow and Cllr Alan Torrance deserve
congratulation for seeking to protect good agricultural land.
By implication they ask Crudie Farms to rethink their application."

"The urgent need is to find the potato processing factory a
suitable development site in the area."

"Building on the best crofting land has to stop. Local
residents and the wider public will want to know what The
Highland Council development director and HIE have been doing
to find a suitable site such as at Fearn Airfield."

"Local people want Crudie Farms business to prosper, they are
familiar to the area for over a decade. Highland Council and
HIE must act swiftly to find a less controversial site."


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Gibson accuses Lib Dems over Postal service

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has accused the
Liberal Democrats in Scotland of betraying rural communities
and businesses following the revelation that the UK Coalition
Government are considering scrapping Saturday postal deliveries.
The idea was floated in a leaked letter between Vince Cable and
Chancellor George Osbourne. Obtained by the Press and Journal,
the letter from the Business Secretary Vince Cable raises the
prospect of a reduction in minimum service requirements, and
that legislation he plans to introduce would “build in
flexibility to amend” these minimum requirements in future.
The letter appeared just days after Scottish LibDem leader
Tavish Scott claimed to have received a 'copper bottom
guarantee' on the future of the postal service.

Mr Gibson, who lodged a motion in Parliament earlier this month
highlighting the problems encountered by Scottish firms and
parcel deliveries, said that this was a worrying development
given the forthcoming privatisation of the Royal Mail….

"The Lib Dems and Conservatives have embraced whole heartedly
the sell off of the Royal Mail, that raises serious questions
over the service that we will get in remote and rural areas."
"Tavish Scott sought to allay those fears, however his words
are ringing hollow following the appearance of this letter. It
begs the question is Tavish Scott aware what is going on or is
he spreading misinformation."

"The Liberal Democrat claim that the postal service from
Kensington to Kyleakin would not be affected due to
privatisation always was a non starter this news is just
confirmation. The ideas set out in this letter would suggest
that postal service from Kyleakin to Keiss and beyond will
suffer far more than Kensington. It is a shameful betrayal by
the Liberal Democrats of those that live and work in remote and
rural areas. It is also an abandonment of principles of the Lib
Dems in favour of their Ministerial Mondeos."

"The fact is that businesses in rural Scotland rely upon the
services provided by Royal Mail. A reduction in the current
minimum requirements of the Universal Service Obligation will
seriously impact on rural areas and will undermine efforts to
regenerate the rural economy."

"First of all Labour cut the amount of Post offices in remote
rural areas now the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives seem
intent of cutting the postal services to these areas. It is a
triple whammy from the UK Government of all colours which will
do our remote and rural communities no good at all."

Mr Gibson also challenged a Lib Dem, Labour or Conservative MSP
to sign his motion on the parcel deliveries.


Friday, 17 September 2010

Gibson welcomes GM dialogue decision

News release
immediate release

News that the UK Government is to abandon a Food Standards
Agency dialogue on GM technologies with the public has been
warmly welcomed by Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson.

MR Gibson was speaking after it was announced by UK Science
Minister David Willets that the dialogue would not continue in
it's current form and that the new Government were taking the
opportunity to step back and review past dialogues on GM and
other areas of science.

Although Mr Willets also said that the UK Government were still
developing their policy on the use of GM technology in food and
agriculture, Rob, a longstanding critic of GM technologies in
food and agriculture, said that the dialogue was discredited
and a waste of time...

"Two cheers for Science Minister Willets, the hugely
discredited FSA run public dialogue on the place of GM crops
has been ditched in its present form.

"Whilst Mr Willets wishes to increase the dialogue about
science and UK government policy with the public that has to be
on a basis of science not on the wishes of multinational
biotech firms. Labour were in the thrall to firms such as
Monsanto, and were ready to roll out GM across England and
would do the same in Scotland given half a chance. I hope that
the new coalition Government in Westminster is more circumspect
on the issue as Labour whilst in power were brazen."

"I am delighted that the Scottish Government and those in Wales
and Northern Ireland reject GM development of field crops. I
took part in a Holyrood debate yesterday on the value of
Scottish food and drink. Now we must press the UK to recognise
natural values in food and drop the big lies that GM can feed
the world."


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Highland Councillors look to investors to finance £18m upgrade of local authority buildings

Campaigners hit out over plans to privatise care homes
By Laura Paterson
Published: 16/09/2010

Local campaigners have hit out at councillors deciding to canvass private sector interest in taking over care homes currently run by the local authority.

At yesterday’s housing and social work committee meeting in Inverness, it was agreed to seek interest from the private sector over building new care homes at Duthac House in Tain and Urray House in Muir of Ord.

Director of social work Bill Alexander told the meeting that upgrading the care homes was not the best use of the council’s money.

He said refurbishing the homes would cost £280,000 initially, and £18million over the next five years. Both homes have rooms which fall short of standards on space and lack private bathrooms.

But Highland MSP Rob Gibson said the council was not reflecting the view of local residents.
He said: “There are many aspects that make Duthac House dearly loved by the residents of Tain and the elderly people who live there.
“This is not playing politics, but reflecting the views of the majority of people in Tain.”

Molly Doyle, secretary of the Highland Senior Citizen’s Network, said they were “not happy” about the plans and feared the private sector would provide a poorer service.
She added: “We want them to stay within the local authority.”

At the meeting, Tain councillor Alasdair Rhind said going to the private sector was the way forward for Duthac House and accused Mr Gibson of playing politics with local residents in his opposition to the proposals.

Dingwall and Seaforth councillor, Margaret Paterson, said both care homes were in poor condition. She said: “It’s not my preferred option to have an independent provider, but we really have no option.”

The committee chairman, Margaret Davidson, said: “While our staff have striven to make the buildings homely, the nature and design of both buildings militates against this, and patching up the homes does not make economic sense.

“There is no doubt that both Muir of Ord and Tain require care home provision and we have the unanimous agreement of the committee to test the market to identify an independent provider who will invest in modern and high quality residential care homes.”

Essential upgrades to both homes will take place in the meantime.

The committee also agreed to upgrade facilities at three other care homes – Ach-an-Eas in Inverness, Grant House in Grantown, and Invernevis in Fort William.

Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1920498#ixzz0zgY9jO00

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Duthac House does not deserve privatisation

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has questioned the motives of Highland Council Social Work Department in suggesting £0.9 million needs to be spent on Duthac House care home immediately.

He said,

“I am disappointed that local councillor Alasdair Rhind continues to reject the majority opinion in Tain which wants to see investment in Duthac House for the long term, not a new home.”

“I am shocked that the Housing and Social Work Committee can treat a gold star care home in this way. When certain private homes can achieve poor scores from the Care Commission, Duthac House gets 5 out 6 in recent inspections.”

“ With cuts cascading down from Westminster as the latest excuse, the LibDem, Labour and Independent led Highland Council has finally got its way. Privatise everything to get it off the books.”

“Tain people will seek allies to fight this move and reverse the Council’s stance.”

Monday, 6 September 2010

Praise for Scotland's first housing expo

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has urged fellow MSPs to join in congratulating the organisers and backers of Scotland's first Housing Expo, the first Scotland and in the UK.
He said,
"During the depths of the recession there were fears that these fantastic houses designed for the future would never be built. I recall a Cross Party Group on Architecture held in the Scottish Parliament when the vision was agreed across several political parties. I hope we can now join in praising the event that attracted over 30,000 visitors last month."
"Fears were expressed about the services and transport that would link the Braes of Balvonie site near the A9 to the town. I'm sure that the debate in Highland Council will be positive to ensure that the new campus at Beechwood and the Expo site on which many people will live can be linked by bus to the centre of the city."
"I for one welcomed the expressions of support at that cross party Holyrood meeting from Peter Peacock MSP the former convener of Highland Council. He saw that the rapid developments needed to house the burgeoning Inverness population had been too rushed but we can learn from sustainable designs and place making in future. I hope he and his colleagues and other MSPs can now sign this motion and express our support for the success of the event. I also hope a debate can take place over other local councils hosting future housing expo events. Scotland has a long way top catch up with Finnish eco-friendly house design. The bold moves backed by the SNP government has shown the way for sustainable housing across the land."


S3M-06908 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Scotland's First Housing Expo— That the Parliament praises the delivery of Scotland's first Housing Expo, which attracted well over 30,000 visitors in August 2010 at Balvonie Braes, on the southern outskirts of Inverness; also applauds the organisers from Highland Council who it considers showed tenacity in the face of the economic recession and achieved a highly successful outcome with full backing from the Scottish Government; notes that 52 cutting-edge houses designed with the future in mind were seen to stimulate house buyers, architects and builders who now know that this climate change age demands house designs with as low carbon impact as possible; welcomes the support of experts from Finland for the achievements of the Scottish Housing Expo and notes that the inspiration from that Baltic Sea country has raised the standards of house design there in over 40 years of such events; calls on other local authority areas, architects and builders to join in planning the next Scottish Housing Expo to display the gold standard of house designs that needs to be available for affordable housing and private housing in future; is encouraged by the considerable number of enquiries by potential buyers of the private houses built on the site, and wishes all who live at Balvonie Braes including those allocated one of the 20 houses built by Albyn and Cairn Housing Associations for affordable rent and low cost ownership a comfortable, low carbon future.

SNP MSP joins survivors of WW2 Arctic convoys to promote a museum for their artefacts.

For immediate use

 Rob Gibson SNP MSP was proud to be invited to speak at and join the remembrance service at Cove on Loch Ewe for the 3,000 seamen lost in the WW2 Arctic convoys.

Speaking after the service at the Scottish Russian Arctic Convoy Club memorial on Saturday 4th September, Rob said,

" I was honoured to be invited by the Scottish Convoy Club chairman Jock Dempster to address the gathering alongside the Lord Lieutenant of Ross, Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh Janet Bowen. Around thirty Scottish veterans survive today from the seamen who served on these hazardous Arctic convoys to Murmansk which carried vital war materials to aid our Russian allies on the Eastern Front. We all agreed that local efforts deserve national recognition and support to find a place and install the memorabilia of this dwindling band of quiet heroes."

"I am the first MSP or MP to be present and with links to the Russian Consulate who have never forgotten these seam, I am writing to Highland Council to refresh the Naval Trail set up in the days of Ross and Cromarty District Council that highlight the part played by Wester Ross and other areas of the north in the defence of freedom and the defeat of the Nazis. I am also seeking support from our veteran's minister in the Scottish Government, Alex Neil MSP. But the main wishes of the members of the Russian Arctic Convoy Club Scotland is for a local museum to focus on the convoys which overwhelmingly sailed from Loch Ewe that needs to be achieved."

"I'm sure that a meeting of minds at local community level with the Highland Council and Scottish Government can see their dream realised."

Rob Gibson with Jock Dempster and two of the other veterans

Friday, 3 September 2010

Gibson calls for integrated transport solution to Inverness bottleneck

For immediate use

Friday 3rd September 2010

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has written to the Highland Council and Stagecoach following a number of constituents raising concerns over the Invergordon to Inverness bus service.
On several occasions residents commuting from their jobs in the evening have been reporting to their Highland MSP that they are unable to use the bus service due to large volumes of cruise ship tourists filling the seats.
Commenting on the situation, Rob Gibson said:
"Stage Coach and Highland Council need to investigate options for a more integrated transport approach which would allow the very welcome numbers of tourists easy access to Inverness, while at the same time allow for minimal disruption to local residents.
"A number of people have now contacted me regarding this problem, on several occasions they have been unable to use the regular bus service to get home from work without an extremely long wait. I have personally seen queues for transport which needed much more than one bus to cope
"Cruise ship tourism is vital to the area but we need an approach which will not have such a negative impact on the daily lives of local people. I have now written to both Stagecoach and Highland Council pressing for answers to how they will solve this problem."

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Gibson highlights problems and solutions for rural parcel deliveries

Thursday, 2nd September 2010
For immediate use

Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament highlighting the recommendations of a recent report by Consumer Focus Scotland on problems with parcel delivery services in remote, rural and island areas.

The report notes the various problems that can be encountered by Scottish consumers when receiving parcel deliveries and recommends the development of more innovative solutions to address these problems.

Commenting on the report, Mr Gibson said:

"This is an important report highlighting the need for alternative local parcel delivery points and increased direct communication between parcel operators and consumers.

"These are problems many of us are all too familiar with, often requiring travel to distant depots to collect parcels and adding expense and environmental cost to the price already paid.

"The work of Consumer Focus is illuminating and offers innovative solutions to this problem. I welcome their work and hope to see its consideration and implementation by Royal Mail and the other parcel delivery providers - who don't operate under the universal service obligation - take responsibility in fully assisting their rural and island customers.



Mr Gibson's motion reads as follows:

S3M-06900 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Parcel Deliveries, Current Practice and Possible Solutions— That the Parliament welcomes the recently published Consumer Focus Scotland report Parcel Deliveries: Current Practice and Possible Solutions; notes the various problems that can be encountered by Scottish consumers when receiving parcel deliveries, especially those who live in the Highlands and Islands and other rural and remote areas, and supports the report’s recommendations for the development of more innovative solutions to address these problems, including more alternative local parcel delivery points and increased direct communication between parcel operators and consumers to improve the experience of those receiving parcel deliveries.

The full report can be accessed at: