Focus on local priorities at Lochaber Committee
Members of the Lochaber Committee have agreed set of strategic Council priorities for the area and confirmed their commitment to working in partnership with others to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
The priorities are listed under a number of headings that include transport and marine infrastructure, health and wellbeing and increase housing and specialist support provision. There are also specific priority projects such as pursuing “University Town” status for Fort William, the construction of an A830 relief road, replacing the New Belford Hospital and establishing a Lochaber Common Good Fund.
At todays (Wednesday 19 October) Committee, members had the chance to discussed the list of proposed priorities before unanimously agreeing them.
Chair of the Committee, Councillor Thomas MacLennan said: “Building on the localism agenda and the increased delegation of decision-making to local communities has given us the perfect opportunity as councillors to consider local priorities.
“The list of strategic Council priorities we now have reflects the wide geographical diversity of our area and sets out our ambitions to make Lochaber an attractive place to live, learn, work and visit. This is very much a starting point and a working document which will be regularly reviewed and updated . Its giving an ongoing commitment to ensure our area is growing and sustainable. We’re all determination to see the priorities we have agreed delivered and having them will help us focus our future work.”
The Depute Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Alasdair Rhind joined the committee to discuss their key priorities and look at ways the Council can help progress work on addressing them.
He said: “The Council has existing Highland-wide priorities but the local Members have done a great job in agreeing priorities for their own Wards. Coming here today has given me a much clearer understanding of the specific issues affecting people in Lochaber and the work needed to address these. Having a clear vision with priorities is a great way forward and will help the wider Council when it comes to looking at ways we can support the work of the local committee.”
The Lochaber Committee priorities are:
- A830 relief road – construction of this road will remove around 60% of traffic from a recognised A82 choke point, delivering more effective traffic movement and freeing up land for commercial use
- Transport infrastructure – working with the public and private sector we will deliver a more efficient and joined up transport system. This will provide a trunk road network fit for purpose and the infrastructure to create a multi-modal hub allowing sea, rail and road transport to work seamlessly and offering a safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists. A long-term sustainable solution for crossing the Corran Narrows will also be investigated.
- Marine infrastructure – providing appropriate infrastructure such as pontoons and a breakwater combined with effective management structure (eg a harbour authority) will maximise the potential from marine tourism, including cruise ships
- STEM Centre– supporting West Highland College UHI’s ambition to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Centre will ensure that Lochaber continues to strengthen and diversify its education provision, making it well-placed to serve the economy
- “University Town” status for Fort William – with partners we will pursue development and delivery of services and facilities which support our growing student population which will in turn help grow the economic and cultural diversity of the area.
- New Belford Hospital – replacing the existing 1960s Belford Hospital with a state of the art facility which will deliver outstanding health care for the next 50 years will ensure the well-being of the residents and visitors to the area
- Health and wellbeing – working with community planning partners we will develop and deliver the Lochaber Community Learning and Development plan which aims to improve the skills and wellbeing of people living and working in Lochaber, including the most vulnerable
- Increase housing and specialist support provision – we will work with partners to provide the mechanism to deliver suitable housing with the most appropriate support in areas of identified need. This will deliver for our most vulnerable communities as well as increasing social confidence
- Indoor Training Centre – assisting the delivery of an Indoor Training Centre will reduce the demands on local pitches which suffer from the extreme wet-weather conditions allowing a greater range of sports to be enjoyed with the resulting health and social benefits
- Multi-use indoor centre – extending visitors’ length of stay and increasing the social well-being of the area can be delivered by developing all weather visitor attractions offering a range of uses for residents and visitors
- Participatory budgeting – we will build on the success of the Lochaber pilot and will strengthen and empower communities to decide together how public monies should be spent
- Lochaber Common Good Fund – establishing a Common Good Fund will enable appropriate projects to be funded via a mechanism which will have direct community input