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Politicians go head to head on Highland finances

By Louise Glen

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Drew Hendry speaks in the Commons
Drew Hendry speaks in the Commons

A Highland MP has issued a scathing attack on an MSP over his claims about a lack of financial investment in the Highlands.

Drew Hendry MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey said a statement by Edward Mountain MSP, issued yesterday, claiming that the Scottish Government had consistently under invested in the Highlands.

Mr Mountain claimed the First Minister’s programme for government, announced yesterday, continues the SNP Government’s long-term underinvestment in infrastructure in the Highlands.

Mr Hendry MP said: “Mr Mountain would do well to remember that digital infrastructure is reserved to Westminster - the Scottish Government has had to step in to bring superfast broadband to all parts of Scotland, unlocking previously blocked potential because we can simply no wait around for the UK Government to do its job.

“The UK government didn’t care to make the investment needed and hasn’t matched what the Scottish Government has spent, without which, we’d be years and many, many jobs behind where we are now.

“I sat on the Digital Economy Bill Committee in the UK Parliament and I don’t remember him joining my calls for measures to secure investment in the Highlands digital infrastructure then, but I do remember all his Tory colleagues in Westminster vote down every single amendment that that would have put rural communities in the driving seat of digital infrastructure.

“Over the past four years I have been working with our local business community, public sector and colleagues in the Scottish Government, to secure private digital investment to the Highlands – work that has resulted in over £20m of investment across the region.

He continued: “I also worked closely with the UK Government Minister responsible for digital at the time, to make the case for additional Highland investment through the Local Full Fibre Network Fund – investment that was very welcome but is absolutely dwarfed in comparison to the investment the Scottish Government are making.

“I suggest rather than trying making cheap political points, Mr Mountain put his time to working with others to find practical solutions that will work for Highland families and perhaps he might even find time to contact his colleagues in Westminster to ask how they intend to replace the £320 million the North of Scotland is set to lose over the coming years because of Brexit.”

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