Meet Your MSP
On Thursday 18th August the Peninsula Churches organized an event Meet Your MSP. Kate Forbes (SNP) and John Finnie (Green) were there.(Other list MSPs had sent apologies, with some expressions of hope that they may be able to attend any future events.
There was a wide-ranging discussion starting from the point that in the past the church was a major provider of public services, currently it is government at various levels but there seems to be a move to more local community involvement, and church is very much involved at that level. Perhaps, in the current climate of austerity, there is a combination of the right people in the right place at the right time who are able and willing to explore and be involved in the provision of eg schools needed by local communities; using local knowledge and finances leads to what is termed as ‘community empowerment’.
Although the majority of Scotland’s population lives in urban areas and pay a large percentage of the country’s tax bill there can be a lack of acknowledgement of the reliance on income from industries based in rural and remote areas. The country relies on rural areas for production of food and drink, for power from renewable energies and one of Scotland’s main exports, whisky. There is an interdependence that can be overlooked by centralized government. Community empowerment is a reminder that one-size-fits-all policies are not necessarily appropriate, particularly in the context of the provision of services on the peninsula.
Topics discussed in more detail included
• education, especially the project to build a new primary school in Strontian, the adequate financing of the Ardnamurchan High School so that a wide range of subjects can be provided to suit the expectations of pupils and parents.
• health care with access to specialists being a priority.
• Short-termism with a concern that Highland Council focuses resources in Inverness with distant regions, like the peninsula, receiving only minimum resources. Highland Council’s policies appear to have no concern for providing services which will leave a legacy for the community
Overall, this was a successful meeting and it is hoped, in the future, to have more opportunities to meet. Thanks were expressed to all who joined in.