Transport Group hit out at limited guest list for meeting with Minister

The Outer Hebrides Transport Group has hit out at the Scottish Government’s limit on who attends a meeting to discuss the removal of RET for commercial vehicles.

Representatives from the Western Isles are due to meet with Transport Minister Keith Brown on Tuesday (February 7) to discuss the situation.

However the island group are disappointed that part of their planned delegation have been removed from the list.

Angus B MacNeil, MP for the Western Isles and Leader of the Comhairle Angus Campbell have been omitted from a final list of attendees.

Responding to the concerns about limited attendance, Alasdair Allan MSP said: “I have been in regular touch with Keith Brown’s office to make sure that a representative group of people from the islands, who are directly affected by these changes, participate in this meeting.

“My understanding is that currently this group will include business representatives from Barra, Uist and Stornoway, as well as both local parliamentary representatives, the Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Transport Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

“As local MSP, I have been in touch with the Transport Minister about the guest list and I understand that his office has been liaising with those concerned. Ultimately the Transport Minister is hosting this meeting and I have no say in who is invited, although I have been spending some time in trying to get the meeting in a format to which all parties are prepared to agree.

“Rather than arguing endlessly about guest lists, however, I think the moment has arrived for all in the islands who want to see a better deal on lorry fares to speak to the minister with one voice.”

The removal of RET for commercial vehicles will not only affect the Western Isles but also Coll and Tiree.

Graham Laidlaw of Transport Scotland Ferries Unit flew into Tiree on Monday morning with Cllr Mary-Jean Devon and Cllr Roddy McCuish of Argyll and Bute Council, to meet 20 delegates to discuss the islanders’ views on the government decision.

In a well prepared, composed meeting, the Tiree community made it’s view clear that this decision will be ‘catastrophic’ for the economies of Tiree and Coll and will leave these fragile islands at ‘breaking point’ with unmanageable increases in costs for businesses and individuals.