Campaign can bring results

by Peter Peacock

WHEN I first moved to work in Inverness over 35 years ago, I lived on the Black Isle.

It was a novelty to commute into Inverness by ferry across the Kessock narrows ó the novelty soon wore off!

As the queues grew, so the clamour for a bridge gained strength and one was duly built.

That bridge has made a huge difference with greater convenience, reduced journey times and the opening up of the Black Isle and East Ross as significant commuter territory to a burgeoning Inverness.

No more ferry queues, or that long haul round by Beauly if you missed the last ferry.

It would have been hard to imagine back then that queues at Kessock would again be an issue, but we have just that every morning, delaying journey times and causing frustration.

My Labour colleagues Rhoda Grant, David Stewart and I have launched a campaign to get the issue higher up the political agenda.

We have been inundated with responses to the campaign, clearly demonstrating the desire for action is shared by a huge number of people.

The solution is not beyond reach if the matter can be given the political attention it now deserves.

Probably a combination of engineering work on the roundabout at the south end, some environmentally friendly park and ride opportunities and greater use of the excellent commuter train services to Inverness will do the trick.

We have already taken a number of actions with key agencies to build on the results of the report we expect this month from transport agencies, a report commissioned during Labourís time in office at Holyrood.

My thanks for all who have supported the campaign, it is important to demonstrate to government there is strong local feelings on the matter.

CHANGING tack, how many of you have seen a honey bee this summer?

I have yet to see my first one.

Of all the things I have done in politics in my life, I never thought I would become the champion of the honey (and other) bees and insects, but I find myself in that position.

There really is something very alarming going on and bee numbers are collapsing.

So what, some may say.

But actually this is very important as bees pollinate a vast amount of the food we eat.

We, quite literally, are dependant on bees and we have taken them for granted.

I sponsored a recent debate in parliament about the plight of the bees.

The motion debated had cross-Party support and it was a good opportunity for the government to say what they are doing about the issue.

Thankfully they are working on a strategy to help and have joined a UK government initiative to give £10million to further detailed scientific research on what is causing the problem.

Some reckon the decline is caused by the long term effects of insecticides.

We know about the effect of a mite that invades colonies, but a huge amount is not understood.

The most worrying thing is whether the bees are a barometer of wider environmental degradation.

We can all play a part in helping the bees in our own gardens by planting bee friendly flowers and providing shelter.

The Co-op has an excellent Plan Bee and I recommend their excellent website ó

IMPROVING our environment was the focus of much debate in Parliament over recent weeks as we debated the climate change Bill.

The Bill brought forward by the SNP government lacked ambition, but I am pleased to say that Labour led the charge in having it heavily amended and in raising its ambition.

The government took the hint and moved a long way on the final day of the Billís consideration to support making it tougher.

The hard work starts now to deliver what are the most ambitious carbon reduction targets in the world.

My friend Sarah Boyack deserves much of the credit for making this Bill significantly better.

FINALLY, we are facing some controversy again in Holyrood as we break for the summer recess.

A number of members didnít attend a Royal session arranged late and called in the recess.

I was one of them, so for all the Royalists out there, or those who are simply curious, I was under the surgeonís knife at the time and write this as I recuperate.

I donít think Her Majesty would have minded my absence.

This article first appeared in the Ross-Shire Journal 10th. July 2009


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