Council Leader requests meeting on future of Wick Airport
25th June 2020
The Leader of The Highland Council has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, raising her deepest concerns over Eastern Airways decision to withdraw their Wick - Aberdeen Service.
The decision by Eastern Airways follows Loganair's earlier decision to withdraw its Wick-Edinburgh route, which now leaves Wick John O'Groats Airport with no commercial services operating.
Council Leader, Margaret Davidson said: "This is a deeply disappointing decision and one which further demonstrates the need for an ambitious new approach to protecting our vital regional aviation links. I support the business case that has been presented to Transport Scotland for a Public Service Obligation (PSO) from Wick which I have discussed previously with Mr Matheson. In my letter sent yesterday, I have requested a meeting so we discuss how the business case for a PSO can be moved forward as quickly as possible and what other measures could be put in place to support Wick John O’Groats Airport."
Caithness Councillors hope the Cabinet Secretary gives the concerns raised his immediate attention.
Chair of the Caithness Committee, Councillor Matthew Reiss said: "No ifs, no buts. If Dundee airport has a PSO, we need one to secure the future of Wick airport too. When the Transport Minister met with the local Chamber of Commerce last August the risks to Wick were unambiguously spelled out to him. The Chamber have done a power of work outlining a possible solution and my fellow councillors and I will continue to raise the future of the airport as a priority with our MSP and the Minister."
The Caithness Civic Leader, Cllr Willie Mackay added: “Having regular and reliable air links is going to be crucial when it comes to driving forward our economy and I believe it will put us in a better position to recover from the impacts of Covid-19. I am impressed with the excellent work done to date to raise the issue. There is no doubt, a very strong case has been put forward for our airport to receive the necessary subsidies to help safeguard its future.”
Wick Councillor Nicola Sinclair added: “I would like to reassure people that we’re very much on the case and are closely collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce and our MSP and will continue to do all we can to protect the airport.”
Applicants for the Scottish Government's Temporary Business Closure Grant can now apply even if they do not have a formal business bank account. Businesses will now be able to use a personal bank account as evidence, if the account is mainly used for their business banking.
A significant top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level 4 restrictions will be paid following an announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of.
Members at yesterday's previously adjourned and re-scheduled meeting of Highland Council voted to carry a motion introduced to make adjustments to the agenda in light of the situation in relation to COVID-19 and Brexit. The urgent motion was proposed by Highland Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson and supported by the Leader of the official Opposition, Cllr Raymond Bremner.
The Highland Council has issued a letter to all parents providing an update regarding the reopening of schools and early learning and childcare settings following the announcement made yesterday by the First Minister that the country is now in a national lockdown. All Highland schools will remain open but the only pupils who should attend are those identified as vulnerable and the children of Key Workers when no other arrangements can be made.
The Highland Council met today (7 January 2021) and took the opportunity to discuss Brexit. A number of issues arising from the UK's exit from the EU were discussed and the complexity of the situation was recognised particularly since there are a number of other concurrent issues such as COVID.
The Council wishes to provide re-assurance to communities that it's Winter Gritting teams are continuing to work extremely hard throughout the area during the current lock-down, providing a road and pavement gritting service following the Council's policy on prioritisation of routes. Details of the council's highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the Council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.
The Highland Council today launched the Temporary Business Closure Grant. This grant is available for businesses who have had to close due to the COVID-19 protective measures introduced on Boxing Day.
The Highland Council is giving more time for people to take part in it's draft food growing strategy - Growing Our Future. The extension, until the 28 February, will allow outcomes from the up-coming Highland Good Food Conversation to be incorporated in the strategy.
Local groups in Caithness are reminded that the closing date for Your Cash Your Caithness applications is drawing near and to be in with a chance of receiving a share of £10,000.00, forms need to be received by 5.00pm on Sunday 2nd February 2020. £10,000 of funding is available to let the local community decide for themselves which projects are needed in their area.
Following the announcement from NHS Highland yesterday that the number of positive cases of Covid in the Highlands had tripled in just a few days, the Leader of The Highland Council is reminding everyone to follow all guidance and to remain extra vigilant. Councillor Margaret Davidson said: "Up until now the low Covid numbers we have had in our area has been due to very high levels of compliance with the restrictions and the excellent partnership work across Council, NHS Highland and Police to successfully deal with local outbreaks.