Kate Forbes MSP

 

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has called for an urgent review of the retendering of bus service contracts by Highland Council.

Highlighting examples right across her constituency, Kate Forbes MSP said that the 15 per cent budget reduction by the local authority had “disproportionately decimated” timetables.

Meanwhile the row of Skye's "missing" Portree-Broadford-Armadale 52 service rumbles on.

Sleat Transport Forum's Rob Ware said: "Passengers and visitors are being inconvenienced on a daily basis with those arriving on the CalMac ferry at Armadale with no service northbound and along with those intending to travel from Broadford southbound are having to resort to seeking transport via taxi to get them to their destinations.

" Local residents who use the service for employment, shopping or other purposes are having to make alternative arrangements. Having met visitors and locals at the pier in Armadale during the past few days it is clearly evident that this is a totally unacceptable situation that cannot continue.

Explaining her stance over the retendering issue, Kate Forbes said: “At December’s meeting of the Community Services Committee, councillors agreed to a savings target over four years of £2.2m on the £15m budget for bus and home to school transport. This is a reduction of just under 15 per cent.

“However, in my constituency alone, bus timetables have been disproportionately decimated as an outcome of these retendering decisions.

“For example, on the Black Isle there is now no commuter service from Culbokie to Inverness, and the 26 service to Fortrose has been effectively halved to an hourly service.

“Over on the other side of my constituency, in Lochaber lifeline services serving the likes of Acharacle have been almost entirely removed – the same is true for parts of Skye.”

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch continued: “I have written to senior officials at the Highland Council calling for the recent retendering exercise to be reviewed at the first available opportunity.

“It appears to me that decisions have been made largely on cost, with less consideration given to the value bus services provide to rural communities.

“Whilst I appreciate that financial constraints require service reductions, I reiterate that the 15 per cent budget cut appears to have resulted in a much greater loss of services.

“There is a role here for all of us to use local transport as much as possible to demonstrate how important it is.”