PART I: Highland Council election for Badenoch and Strathspey – who will you vote for?
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Voters in the strath will go to the polls in a few days' time to select those who will represent them in Highland Council for the next five years.
The local government election on Thursday will see a new generation of councillors take office, with just over 40 per cent of incumbents standing down. Those returned will steer the local authority forward in areas such as planning, education, the environment, roads and the economy.
We asked the candidates standing in the strath for their priorities if elected.
• John Bruce (Scottish Conservatives)
There is a huge amount to be done in the next council. I will be challenging the education sector to rebuild school standards to give our children the education they need.
Our older residents are growing in number and I will make sure we are providing the best quality dignified service and get our health services back to meet the needs of our residents with overhauling primary care.
Energy production gives the Highlands a major opportunity to develop its growth in harnessing wind and tide; exploring nuclear fission; build smaller nuclear reactors; exploring safe fracking and producing clean hydrogen for use in industry and transport.
Waste management is linked to energy production and the two must work together. The UK government is ending landfill for waste and will let us produce energy from heat.
I will seek solutions for affordable housing. Are bricks and mortar the only solution? We must explore other ways. Enough has been said about our awful roads – we just need to get on with it.
I want to see the region rising to post-Covid challenges that will bring in new industries working with new technologies. The opportunities and skills we have are here for action.
Now is the time to meet these opportunities and not let them slip out of our grasp.
• Muriel Cockburn (SNP)
My key aims are to help people to help each other and look at new ways to support community groups. We need to invest in energy solutions for council properties while investing in the energy potential of the Highlands.
We must reduce waste ensuring our communities have access to council facilities and are supported to recycle and save. I will support our young people and teachers ensuring the attainment gap is markedly reduced.
We need to ensure more quality affordable housing is available to buy and rent and work to achieve rural local transport solutions.
We must target investment in spend to save projects and deliver a greater focus on localism. I want to continue to work, support and listen to all constituents in this beautiful ward in order that decisions taken serve and support the needs of local communities.
The powers and responsibilities must be delivered and accessed fairly across the Highlands and the strath. I will continue to support businesses who have suffered deeply over the past few years.
My personal interest and committee memberships have focused on education and health and I would hope to continue to promote and support our teachers and young people who are our greatest asset.
There will be a National Care Service and I look forward to the consultation outcomes and how this will benefit local people particularly those in our most rural areas.
• Dave Fallows (SNP)
My key aims for the strath will be to find and develop innovative solutions to the housing crisis which continues to stifle progress for local people, those who wish to find work here and the many businesses unable to recruit staff.
To build a new approach to green public transport across the area at times and locations that people actually need; to devolve a far greater say in their own futures, including budgets, to local communities; to invest in developing local schools at every level, increasing flexibility using new technologies.
To continue to invest in health care facilities, in particular tackling the care at home crisis and in recognising the valuable roles of community nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists who do so much to help people to continue to live in their own homes.
To invest in energy-saving solutions and opportunities to generate energy where local people directly benefit. To recognise and provide for the changing visitor market, with appropriate infrastructure.
I would be honoured to be elected for a third time to the council, to serve all of the people of this special part of the Highlands whilst recognising that all of the resources of Highland must be distributed fairly.
I look forward to working collaboratively with all who face common problems to build a better future, as part of a strong SNP group.
• Declan Gallacher (Scottish Liberal Democrats)
After everything we’ve been through, Scotland needs New Hope right now. At the coming council elections, you’ll find that hope with me and the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
I want to put people and our communities first. That is at the heart of what I wish to achieve as a councillor. It’s why I am standing as a candidate. I care about this area that we live in together and want to do what I can to help my neighbours across the whole of Badenoch and Strathspey.
Whether it’s affordable housing, legislation on second homes, supporting jobs in the area, providing world-class education for our children, better health and social care services locally, greater police resources, improving transport links, or a fairer cost of living amidst the current crisis, whichever issue it is, finding solutions all comes back to doing it to support you and your family.
I have a track record of supporting my own community in Grantown. On the community council, as a director of our community development company and at our local football team. Now I want to support the whole of Badenoch and Strathspey.
I promise if you put your trust in me to be your councillor, if it’s important to you, then it will be important to me. I won’t stand silent while our community is ignored. Put your faith in me to stick up for you. Scottish Liberal Democrats believe passionately in you and the people around you.