THIS week's Councillor Column comes from Lomond North Independent councillor George Freeman.

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WHEN we look at how our local authorities and rural communities are treated by the Scottish Government, it appears that both are clearly second class.

The Scottish Government recently awarded £500 to NHS workers yet what did our local authority and care workers receive for their hard work and dedication over the past year? Unfortunately, the Scottish Government did not consider them worthy of even one penny.

While the lowest paid workers received nothing, I am told that even those on the highest salaries of over £100,000 in the NHS still received their extra £500. This is totally unjust as is the £20 million cut from Argyll and Bute Council’s budget by the Scottish Government over the past decade.

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When it comes to investment, again our rural communities are at the end of the queue.

We see long awaited essential ferries for our island communities years overdue. Even this week, we hear businesses complaining that they are under threat as they cannot get their produce to market due to ferries failing to sail in weather conditions that see much smaller fishing boats happy to go to sea in.

How many more years will our island communities be serviced by ferries unfit for purpose?

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AS the main route into and out of Argyll, the A83 has continued to face regular closures at the Rest and Be Thankful over many years.

Following intense pressure from communities and businesses across Argyll, the Scottish Government eventually undertook a public consultation exercise on a range of options for addressing this ongoing problem.

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No surprise that after months of delay, we are now told that the favoured route is to take the “new” road through Glen Croe.

No one who has been involved in this project over the years expected any other result.

We are now being told that it could be 10 years before we see a new fit for purpose route into Argyll. This is totally unacceptable. If this problem was on any of the central belt trunk roads, work would have been completed years ago.

Unfortunately, as a rural area, we again appear to be a low priority for the Scottish Government.

We should now be putting pressure on all the political parties prior to the upcoming elections to confirm what their timescale is for resolving the problems at the Rest and Be Thankful.

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