Members Day 22nd April

Members Day Inveraray Inn Sunday April 22nd 2018

There will be 2 sessions on the day.

The first will be with our SNP Council Group to learn more about the vitally important role they play every day in promoting the SNP in Argyll & Bute Counci

The group discussion will focus on how we as local activists can work with our councillors to promote the SNP in our communities and how local issues can play into the wider national discussion.
In the second session we will hear from Rebecca Munro and Colin J. Morrison who have been instrumental in the proposed community buyout of the island of Ulva, using the Scottish Government’s Community Buyout legislation.
There is a meeting for branch Convenors, Organisers and Secretaries at 11:00
Between 12:00 and 13:00 there will be a meeting of the Liaison Committee.
Then after a short tea/coffee break, the Members Day will start at 13:30.

No More Pylons In Dalmally Meeting

Michael Russell met local residents in Dalmally on the 5th April

On his blipfoto blog he says;

I was in Dalmally this morning in my role as the local MSP for Argyll & Bute meeting local residents who are opposed to plans by SSE for a high voltage transmission line on pylons through the village and through some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery.

Dalmally Public Meeting

The village is no stranger to the issue. It already has a high voltage line running through it, which I blipped six years ago. It has been there since the Cruanchan Power Station was established and everyone accepts that this electricity is needed and that Argyll is fortunate in being able to export it.
The new line will allow much more renewable energy to flow to other parts of Scotland but there is a virtually unanimous view that , no matter how important that is, the actual line must be put underground or under the loch. It should not further disfigure the landscape nor surround houses and indeed whole communities.

Local people are also unimpressed with the consultation by SSE to date. Some have found out that their fields are to have pylons in them only when they saw a mock up at an event in the village hall. Others have still not been contacted and although there has been widespread concern since the idea was first mooted two years ago there has been far too little firm information and far too little explanation of the options.

Although the meeting had to be held at 10.00 am because of other commitments I had today this group is only part of the total turn out. I have no doubt that the feeling against the current proposals is virtually unanimous and I therefore hope that SSE will recognise that proceeding without significant change isn’t an option.

The No More Pylons In Dalmally Facebook Group. are asking locals to submit their feedback directly to SSE Here.




Full details below;


Dear Avich & Kilchrenan Community Voter
You will have heard that SSE Nestwork (SSEN) came with a team of ten to present their Roadshow at Kilchrenan village hall on Tuesday 20th March.

You might wonder what all that fuss was about, so here is a proper briefing from your Community Council.
SSEN have identified their preferred route for a 275 thousand volt overhead power line to run from a new large substation above Port Sonachan/Cladich across to the Cruachan substation situated across the mouth of the Orchy river in front of Dalmally.

This power line will be visible from our side of Loch Awe.
You will be wondering why they want do this, something which is not at all well explained in their presentation, as the substation itself does not yet exist and has no planning consent.
Here is what your Community Council now believes is the true underlying explanation: SSEN is the licensee for electrical power transmission in Argyll, and as such has an obligation to ensure that Distributed Generation of renewable energy from windfarms and hydro projects have viable pathways to export their peak power output to the National Grid.
All of that power needs to get out of Argyll somehow, which is tricky because Argyll is surrounded by seawater except up here round the top of Loch Fyne.
The only large capacity power lines used to be the 132kV ones bringing power into Argyll via Loch Sloy. ( These are now run in “reverse” a lot of the time to get power out, obviously power lines are always fully bi-directional.). When Cruachan was commissioned, it needed its own dedicated 275kV line which sent short bursts of huge proportions instantaneously on demand literally to keep the Grid up to speed when national demand peaked. Almost all of the time it is not in use at all.

In the past couple of years a subsea line has been added by SSEN from Crossaig at the mouth of Loch Fyne across to Hunterston to feed the Grid through there.
However SSEN claim to see that the two existing pathways, Sloy plus subsea, will not be sufficient to handle peak output as more large windfarms are added in Argyll.

They therefore wish to utilise the Cruachan line as well, as a third pathway in the first instance.

They have also decided that they will upgrade their own transmission network within Argyll from 132kV to 275kV, which increases enormously the power carrying capacity of the lines. We believe they also have in mind in due course to remove the old 132kV Sloy line as their updated network standardizes on 275kV.
However, all that has been publicly declared by SSEN so far is the new 275kV line proposal with a cosmetic choice of routings on offer varying by a few hundred metes here and there.

You will also be wondering how all of this relates to the Upper Sonachan large windfarm application, which is about to be decided very soon. If this windfarm is consented, its peak output, in the 50-60 megawatts range, is too great for the present local network to handle in addition to Carraig Ghael. SSEN under their transmission licence are obligated to offer some kind of grid connection to the Distributed Generator, which in this case is EcoTricity.

Your Community Council believes that the 275kV power line proposal is SSEN’s “two birdswith one stone” solution. In the first stage, the new line makes it easy to get the new windfarm’s power out to the grid, but at the same time it gets in place the first plank of a new 275kV “Superhighway”, intended to supplant and replace the old route via Sloy.

The new line’s capacity would be sufficient for at least ten Upper Sonachan sized large windfarms.
The second stage would be the upgrading of the existing 132kV line from Inveraray up to the new substation at Cladich to operate at 275kV.

The lines from Crossaig to Inveraray up the coast of Loch Fyne look set to be consented for a Reinforcement of the pylons to take 275kV cabling.
The final result of all this would be that the entire DG output of Argyll beyond Loch Fyne (but minus the subsea line’s relatively modest capacity), will be routed past our noses across to Dalmally.
It also has to be understood that the new large substation, which has a twelve football pitch sized “footprint”, will not become superfluous once the line back to Inveraray upgrades to 275kV, because the onward Distribution line which crosses Loch Awe will be retained at 132kV, and this is also used to get Carraig Ghael’s peak power output back out.


The public consultation process used by SSEN is so narrow that it makes a mockery of the term. A proper consultation presents true choices ( not cosmetic ones) then makes the case for the preferred alternative to be chosen from those true choices.
It must be said that a great proportion of what we now know and which is explained above, has been gleaned from open and honest interaction and responses from SSEN. However, very little of it is addressed in the public consultation process.
In particular, they have admitted that the preferred option was developed using a basic presumption that because the old 132kV lines crossed National Park land, so the option to upgrade these lines to 275kV was rejected out of hand, without even contacting the National Park. The key point is that such an upgrade would render the Dalmally line superfluous.
However if Upper Sonachan windfarm is consented that would require a Reinforcement back down to Inveraray from 132kV to 275kV and that would necessitate the substation at Cladich ( but not the new line across to Dalmally ). If it is not consented, neither substation nor Reinforcement back to Inveraray would be needed as long as the old Sloy lines are upgraded to 275kV and remain as the main land pathway for renewables power export out of Argyll.

Islay and Jura Summit, 4TH April 2018

MP summit has Islay and Jura top of the agenda How to build a strategic, long-term plan for sustainable economic growth on Islay and Jura was the only item on the agenda at a high-level Summit meeting organised by Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O’Hara (Wednesday, 4th April).


Feature Photo Source

Feorlean, Michael Russell MSP,Humza Yousaf, Brendan O Hara, Islay Jura, Calmac
My friend and colleague Humza Yousaf is the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and for Islands.
This is him on an island – Jura – with another one – Islay – in the background.
And for good measure a ferry is coming in.
I was with him and my constituency MP colleague Brendan O’Hara today at a variety of events on both islands. .

Among those attending the Summit at the Gaelic Centre in Bowmore were three Scottish government ministers, Humza Yousaf (Transport and Islands) Fiona Hyslop (Tourism) and Michael Russell MSP (Brexit), as well as the Chief Executives of both Argyll & Bute Council and Highland & Islands Enterprise.

The views of the whisky industry were articulated by The Scotch Whisky Association and Diageo, as well as representatives of numerous distilleries on Islay and Jura.

Also present to give the all-important view of the local population were both the Islay and Jura Community Councils, the local Ferry Users Group and the islands’ Tourism and Marketing Group.

They were joined by senior management from CalMac, Transport Scotland, Visit Scotland and Mundell’s Hauliers.

In opening the Summit Mr. O’Hara explained his reason for bringing together so many representatives of national government, local government, the community, public bodies and industry together on Islay.

He said

“Both as MP for Argyll & Bute and as the Chair of the All Party Group on Scotch Whisky at Westminster, everyone I speak to talks about their plans to increase spirit production on these islands and the rise in tourist numbers that will inevitably follow.

Yet at the same time, I know the people of Islay and Jura are at the end of their tether over the crumbling road infrastructure and the huge challenges posed by a ferry service that is very often unreliable and occasionally bursting at the seams.

So I just couldn’t see how increased spirit production, coupled to the inevitable rise in visitor numbers would be possible given the already huge demands being put on both the roads and the ferries.

It seemed that everyone was happily ploughing their own furrow, without any strategic overview or a long-term plan for sustainable economic growth.

That couldn’t go on and I felt it essential that all the stakeholders, from community to national government got together to arrive at a shared vision for the future wellbeing of Islay and Jura.”

Following the meeting, he went on to say,

“And I am absolutely delighted at the announcement by Transport Scotland today that Islay will be the first in line in the next vessel procurement exercise to replace the MV Hebridean Isles. I am also delighted to hear that everyone present at this summit is in agreement about one thing and that is a need for better and more collaborative working and I welcome Humza Yousaf commitment to do everything as practicably possible to ensure the challenges are met and the islands’ potential is realised.”

Immediately after the Summit finished, Mr. O’Hara travelled to Craighouse on Jura to host a public meeting with Humza Yousaf MSP before returning to Bowmore to meet with several local groups including TSI, the Seniors Forum, local councillors, the National Farmers Union of Scotland, South Islay Development, The islands’ Health and Social Care partnership and the small business forum to share how the Summit meeting went and to discuss what steps the local community want to take next in advancing the interest of Islay and Jura .

The day ended with an open meeting at which O’Hara fielded questions from the public about the Summit.

Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan

This Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan is the first crucial step in our journey towards meeting the ambitious targets set out in the Child Poverty (Scotland)
Act 2017.

The Act is a landmark piece of legislation that clearly positions Scotland
as leading in the UK on tackling child poverty.

It is a clear statement of the Scottish Government’s intent to eradicate child poverty and this first Delivery Plan, covering the period 2018-22, will make a real difference to children’s lives.


Income Supplement To Help Reduce Unacceptable Levels Of Poverty

Our new Income Supplement will help reduce unacceptable levels of poverty

By 03/04/18

There can be no greater responsibility for any government than ensuring that all young people get the best possible start in life.

It is totally unacceptable that, in a country as wealthy as the UK, any child should be living in poverty. But the latest figures show that, over the last three years, almost one in four children in Scotland were living below the poverty line, once housing costs are taken into consideration.

These aren’t just numbers on a page. Behind every figure lies a human story; a child whose living environment, education, health – their entire life chances – are being limited by poverty.




📈 Tory cuts are pushing up poverty. Here’s what you need to know: 

Of course, many of the key powers relating to tackling poverty remain reserved to Westminster. And with the Tory government currently engaged in the biggest assault on the welfare state since its creation, no one should be seriously surprised that figures show poverty to be rising.

As long as the Tory government continues down this path – which they seem intent on doing despite evidence of the damage they are doing – the Scottish Government will always be fighting poverty with one arm tied behind our backs.

But frustrating as this is for me, it does not excuse us in the Scottish Government from doing everything we can, with the powers and resources we do have, to tackle poverty and inequality.

On the contrary, it actually makes our actions doubly important – because without further action, we estimate that UK welfare cuts could see the number of kids living in poverty rise to more than one in three by the end of the next decade.

That is not acceptable and we are not prepared to just sit back and let it happen.

Of course, we already doing a lot to support families on low incomes by, for example, supporting the real Living Wage and through measures like free prescriptions, free school meals and the widely-praised Baby Box – and of course through our significant investments in social housing and expanding childcare.

And we’re already spending £100 million a year from the Scottish budget – money that could be spent on services such as schools and hospitals – mitigating some of the worst of the UK welfare cuts, like the Bedroom Tax.

Last year MSPs unanimously backed our ambitious Child Poverty Bill, committing us to eradicating child poverty by 2030.

And last week we published a new Child Poverty Delivery Plan – outlining the new actions we will take to ensure that we’re fully responding to the current challenges facing families.

A lot of work and engagement has gone into this plan. We established our own Poverty and Inequality Commission to ensure that we were getting the best possible expert advice – but crucially we have listened carefully to the views of people with direct experience of poverty themselves.

As a result of their input, we will be focusing on “priority families” which we know are most at risk of poverty – lone parents, families with a disabled adult or child, young mothers, minority ethnic families, families with a child less than a year old, and families with three or more children.

And we are proposing a range of actions to support them.

There is action to tackle the cost of living that families often struggle with.

On top of the existing steps I outlined above, we’re going to introduce new, more targeted measures – such as a guaranteed minimum payment for the School Clothing Grant, £1 million on new practical support for children facing food insecurity during the school holidays, and a new Financial Health Check service to ensure families are maximising their incomes.

There is action to support parents in the workplace – because we know that sustainable, well-paid work is the best long-term route out of poverty – so we will invest millions of pounds in intensive employment support for parents, building on their skills and helping to progress through their careers.




Child poverty is unacceptable but it’s not inevitable.

Here’s our plan to end it. 

Our plan to tackle child poverty

We are determined to eradicate child poverty in Scotland. We have passed a new Child Poverty Act, published a new action plan and introduced a £50 million fund to step up our efforts.

 But perhaps the most radical proposal is a new Income Supplement.

Clearly, maximising incomes is an effective tool in tackling poverty, and I have some sympathy with people who asked us to top up child benefit for everyone. However, doing so would mean that seven out of every ten pounds spent would in fact go to families who are not living in poverty.

We want to see a much more targeted approach, to maximise support for families who need it most.

The Income Supplement is an ambitious policy, and the detail is still to be developed fully – for example, we need to consider the level at which it will be set, who exactly should benefit and what the delivery mechanism will be, as well as crucial issues such as ensuring that the interactions with UK benefits is properly understood. Once it is fully up and running, it will go a long way to reducing the unacceptable levels of poverty.

I don’t pretend that tackling poverty is easy. I’ve been in politics long enough to know that there are no overnight solutions – no quick fixes to what are deep-seated problems.

But I’m absolutely determined that we do not take our eye off the ball for even one moment.


This article originally appeared in the Evening Times. 



Calls To Hold Extremist Tory Councillor Redman to Account

SNP Councillors in Argyll & Bute call on Council Colleagues to Hold Extremist Tory Councillor Redman to Account

“Last year they had a list of “extremist” Conservative and Unionist Councillors that had been elected, and I was upset that I was not on it. Making the list this year has made me very happy indeed” – Argyll and Bute Tory Councillor Alastair Redman.

The SNP Group on Argyll and Bute Council today condemns the shocking and arrogant attitude of Kintyre & The Islands Tory Councillor – Alastair Redman, who, after featuring on the front page of a national newspaper for all the wrong reasons on Saturday, took to social media over the weekend to defend the indefensible that is racism, misogyny and far right extremism.

Commenting Leader of the SNP Group, Cllr Sandy Taylor said;

‘I appreciate that many of the electorate in North Kintyre and the Islands would have voted for Councillor Redman due to his conservative credentials, however, I feel sure that this support would not extend to his far right views. Yet again, the public must ask questions about the core values of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party.

The people of Argyll and Bute deserve better. Councillor Redman must respect the fact that elected members have a duty to serve all their constituents, his divisive opinions and rhetoric have no place in politics.

The SNP Group now calls on all of Cllr Redman’s fellow councillors in the ruling coalition, The Argyll Lomond & the Isles Group (TALIG) to hold him accountable for his actions and to publicly condemn and distance themselves from his extremist views. Silence on this issue will only serve as acceptance”.