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County has been unfairly treated by Highland Council, claims Wick and East Caithness candidate

By Alan Hendry

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Council candidate Daniel Ross beside the damaged road surface in Wick's Union Street.
Council candidate Daniel Ross beside the damaged road surface in Wick's Union Street.

A council candidate says the pothole problems that have come to the fore in Caithness prove that the county "does not get its fair share".

Daniel Ross, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate in next month's Highland Council by-election for the Wick and East Caithness ward, insists that local issues should be dealt with locally. He favours a return to the kind of decision-making structure that existed in the days of Caithness County Council.

Mr Ross also challenged one of the existing Wick and East Caithness members, Councillor Raymond Bremner (SNP), over what he called the latter's "inexcusable defence" of the way money is spent on roads.

"I decided to stand in this by-election because I was fed up of how Caithness has been unfairly treated by this council and our roads visibly show that," said Mr Ross, one of five candidates seeking election in Wick and East Caithness on August 12 following the recent resignation of Nicola Sinclair.

"The response I’ve had to the first week of my campaign has shown me why I was right to stand up for our county and our roads. The messages and interactions on my Facebook page show how strongly people feel.

"However, the response I saw from Councillor Raymond Bremner shows exactly why we need to take a stand and say enough is enough. His inexcusable defence of the Inverness and Caithness roads budget split still shows that, for every pound per mile spent on Inverness roads, Caithness gets just 76.19 pence.

"The raw figures are £4.3 million for Inverness and £2.4m for Caithness – but, by every measure, Caithness does not get its fair share. Inverness has more new roads with less maintenance needs.

"It has not had heavy wind-farm convoys through its city centre, and neither does it have the North Coast 500 from one end to the other.

"We can talk numbers all day long, but we live with the results. Caithness does not get its fair share."

Earlier, in a social media post, Mr Ross stated: "Our roads have been forgotten about and our county has been taken for granted for too long.

"It’s easy for opposition parties to snipe from the sidelines, but I am standing for the Scottish Conservatives because they’ve actually come up with proper alternatives and now face a brick wall from the current council.

"Caithness issues should be decided in Caithness, not Inverness – which is why it’s time to call an end to the failed Highland Council, start with a clean slate and go back to something like we had with the Caithness County Council."

Councillor Bremner responded by saying it was not a matter of "Caithness versus Inverness" and pointed to his record of speaking up for the county.

"It's really important that responsible councillors ensure they give the correct information to their communities and the full context on which it is based," Councillor Bremner said.

"This is not about Caithness versus Inverness and creating division to get elected. This is about ensuring the money we are supposed to spend on our roads gets spent.

"My track record in speaking up for Caithness at council has helped secure increased funding for our area, more than three times the previous annual budget. Not only that, I've also exposed a huge underspend on Caithness roads against what was already committed.

"That's the reason I've been ensuring that we deliver the roads programme in accordance with the increased funding while looking at how we can realise even more funding for our roads infrastructure. It's what our communities deserve."

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