Andrew Sinclair - Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party - Wick & East Caithness
10th April 2017
Having been born and brought up in the county, I am well aware of the issues and concerns facing Caithness. I've been involved in various community organisations, local forums and representative groups in the past and am also a former member and treasurer of Wick Community Council.
Whether it’s our local healthcare system facing increasing centralisation to Inverness, road users being left to dodge constant potholes every time they leave the house, or locals remaining frustrated with the number of derelict buildings in the area, we all know our community faces many challenges.
I think our area deserves a lot better than this - we need a better deal for our county. Caithness is an undiscovered corner of Scotland, with so much potential for investment, growth and renewal. Whether it’s in tourism, the energy sector, the local engineering sector or a wide range of other areas, our county has so much more to offer than we often realise.
Caithness currently has a higher proportion of people working in the engineering sector than the Scottish average. It’s important we hold on to good local jobs as we fast approach a post-Dounreay era - diversifying the area’s economy and attracting new investment into our county must be a serious priority looking ahead.
Many young people are already having to leave the area for opportunities elsewhere – this desperately needs to change. Securing investment and future jobs, as well as providing a wider range of educational and employment opportunities locally, is vital so that tomorrow’s generation can continue to make Caithness their home.
My priorities for Wick and East Caithness:
HEALTH - Protect our vital healthcare provision. Maternity and frontline services must be available locally, we need safe and easily accessible care. Our community doesn’t deserve to be treated as an afterthought by NHS Highland.
EMPLOYMENT - Prepare the local economy for a post-Dounreay era. Support local industry and small businesses. Build our young people up for the careers of tomorrow, ensuring they have a good education and healthy career prospects locally, without the need to move away in search of opportunities.
HIGH STREET REGENERATION - Take action to tackle the issue of derelict buildings, which are a source of frustration for many people. Support local businesses to grow and secure renewed investment into the area.
COUNCIL TAX - Many residents are due to face an increase in Council Tax rates this year, coupled with measures such as the £30 brown bin charge – which has annoyed a lot or residents. I’d like to ensure that local people get a fair deal for what they contribute in Council Tax, ensuring your tax money is spent efficiently and effectively on the things that matter most – not wasted needlessly on projects that benefit nobody.
LOCAL DECISION-MAKING - I am an extremely passionate advocate of localism and would like to see more council decisions taken here in Caithness, rather than in Inverness. The creation of a dedicated Caithness Committee last year was a step in the right direction and I’d like to see us build upon this progress. Local priorities and concerns should be right at the heart of the agenda.
ROADS AND TRANSPORT - We must provide investment in our roads to tackle the issue of potholes – good quality road repairs is what locals should expect from their Council Tax contributions. Safeguard local bus services, which are a particularly important lifeline for the elderly and people living in rural areas. We need to radically re-think our transport network so that it works effectively for locals and visitors alike.
I’d be hugely honoured if you gave me your vote on May 4th. I think it’s time for fresh representation for Caithness, with new thinking and renewed enthusiasm for our county and its future prospects. Councillors with strong determination and a willingness to go the extra mile can make all the difference for our county.
No candidate should ever claim to have all the answers, but if our elected representatives are at least on the same page as local people, recognising the same challenges, and are willing to tackle those challenges head on, then we can begin moving in a more positive direction.
I’d be more than happy to answer any questions or provide more information. Feel free to contact me at any time: