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Thurso man to tell Scottish Parliament Caithness should have its own council and health board

By Gordon Calder

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THE need for Caithness to have its own local authority and health board is to be highlighted in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (June 8) by Thurso man, Billy Sinclair.

He will speak at Holyrood to the MSPs on the Petitions Committee and say the far north is not being treated fairly by Highland Council and NHS Highland.

Mr Sinclair is due to address the politicians at around 10am. The presentation can be seen online.

Billy Sinclair will address MSPs at Holyrood
Billy Sinclair will address MSPs at Holyrood

Speaking to the Caithness Courier before the event, he said: "I am a wee bit apprehensive but have prepared something and will let the MSPs know what's happening in Caithness."

Mr Sinclair, who has raised his concerns with politicians and Thurso Community Council, has had support from Thurso and Northwest Caithness Highland councillor Ron Gunn and Iain Gregory of Caithness Roads Recovery in preparing his statement to the committee.

He will speak for about 10 minutes and then answer questions from the politicians.

Mr Sinclair is taking two recent front pages of our sister paper, the John O' Groat Journal, with him to illustrate the concerns about the condition of the roads here.

He will talk also about the downgrading of the Caithness General maternity unit at Wick from a consultant to midwife-led service and highlight the number of mothers who have to give birth in Inverness. He will mention the woman who was on her way to the maternity unit in the Highland capital and gave birth to twins – one in Golspie and the other in Raigmore while another mother gave birth in a lay-by on her way to the hospital in Inverness.

"I will ask the MSPs how they would like if that was their wife or daughter in that situation," said Mr Sinclair who will stress such problems do not happen in nearby Orkney which has an obstetric-supported community midwife unit.

Mr Sinclair, like many others in the far north, is unhappy about the growing number of patients who have to travel over 100 miles for appointments and treatments in the Highland capital.

He will speak, too, about the state of the roads in the far north and argue that Caithness would be better off with its own local authority. "There appears to be money for vanity projects in Inverness while our infrastructure is falling to bits. I just want a fair deal but don’t think we are being treated fairly. It seems to be a case of out of sight out of mind. Something has got to change. We can't carry on the way we are," he said.

Mr Sinclair acknowledges a Caithness council may not be "the answer to all our problems but it will be better than what we have at the moment."

He is delighted with the public support he has received for his petition.

The committee will inform Mr Sinclair on any action it recommends at a later date.

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