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Council agrees to ask Scottish Government for cash to fix Caithness roads

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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Highland Council is to write to the Scottish Government requesting more money for roads repairs, especially in Caithness.

This follows successful lobbying from the Caithness councillors.

Caithness area committee agreed at its last meeting that it would ask Highland Council to make the request to Holyrood.

Ron Gunn moved the request for Highland Council to ask for the money from the Scottish Government.
Ron Gunn moved the request for Highland Council to ask for the money from the Scottish Government.

The area committee does not have the power to decide this alone, so their decision went as a "starred item" to be debated at a meeting of the full Highland Council.

Caithness chairman Ron Gunn officially moved the request, saying a letter to the Scottish Government is “the only solution”.

Mr Gunn said 178 roads in Caithness need repair, but they only have money to repair the worst 13.

“There is huge potential for Caithness and the north, but everyone’s talking about the embarrassing condition of our roads,” said Mr Gunn. “Action must be taken before lives are lost.”

In 2019, the estimated repair bill for all Highland roads was an eye-watering £195 million.

Wick councillor Jan McEwan seconded the request, describing Caithness roads as “absolutely diabolical”. She claimed that under the previous Caithness council, the roads were “like a runway”.

Councillor Matthew Reiss said the poor condition of the road network affects every area of the Highlands, but Caithness has some of the worst. He said anyone who doubted that should “come and see for yourself”.

Councillor Raymond Bremner, as leader of the council, took a neutral stance in the debate, noting that he had to represent the interests of all of Highland, not just his own area.

Highland Council unanimously agreed the request, and will now write to the Scottish Government in the hope of securing more investment in the road network.

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