RET campaigners invited to meet with Comhairle

The Outer Hebrides Transport Group which is leading the campaign against the removal of RET for commercial vehicles to and from the Western Isles, is to be invited to meet with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The move follows a meeting with Transport Minister Keith Brown yesterday (Tuesday) where the Minister made clear that he would not suspend the removal of RET for commercial vehicles pending a review of the economic impact.

At today’s Transportation Committee, Leader of the Comhairle, Angus Campbell, said:

”There is huge appreciation in the Westerns Isles for RET and the benefits it has brought to these islands. We all recognise this and have experienced these benefits since RET was first introduced.

However, the removal of RET for commercial vehicles will have a highly detrimental effect. This issue is not just of importance to hauliers; it is of importance to everyone who lives and works in these islands. We’ve seen an overwhelming response from the local business community condemning the proposals to remove RET on commercials as having a serious economic detriment in terms of job losses across a range of sectors.

Once again, the Comhairle calls on the Scottish Government to postpone the introduction of the removal of commercial RET until further detailed consultation is undertaken on the economic impact of this move on the Western Isles.”

Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, David Wood of Woody’s Express in Stornoway who is Chair of the OHTG said: “We have a major fight on our hands to stop this household and haulage tax. Keith Brown refused to accept our very reasonable request for a proper consultation into the Government’s proposal to remove support for commercial traffic to the Western Isles. Without a proper and economic impact study we will not have a full understanding what these price rises will mean for our islands until it’s too late.”

Gail Robertson of DJ Buchanan Haulage and Co-ordinator of the OHTG added: “The meeting was disappointing - but we will not be giving up - there is too much at stake for our islands and the 100 businesses and other members of the public who have signed up for our campaign know what is at stake. We would like to thank leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Councillor Angus Campbell. Angus has been first class, a great ally and is completely focussed on stopping the economic carnage that will flow from the Government’s flawed ferry pricing policy.”