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Autism strategy exists
I read with interest the article in the April 26 edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser about the council’s autism strategy.
I find it strange Councillor Green said the ‘strategy has reached a draft stage’ when an Autism Strategy for Argyll and Bute already exists.
It was commissioned by the council, produced in May 2014 and signed off by council members. An implementation plan was produced in December 2016 to cover the years 2016-2021. Who in Argyll and Bute is responsible for this plan? How many of the outcomes have been achieved?
As someone who has been involved with autism personally and professionally for many years, I find it extremely disappointing there seems to be an inability by those in authority to get organised enough to address the issues and provide services for autistic people and their families.
There is no need for further drafts and consultations.
Someone in the authority needs to take responsibility for the existing strategy and implementation plan and get on with it.
Maureen Mackintosh, Ardrishaig.
Scots builders buck trend
Scotland’s small building firms had a strong start to 2019, in contrast to the UK construction small and medium sized enterprise (SME) sector, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Scotland.
The FMB State of Trade Survey for the first quarter of 2019, the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector, showed SME workloads declined for the first time in six years.
In Scotland, however, there was a jump of 10 per cent compared with the previous quarter. Thirty per cent of weighted responses were positive, up from 20 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2018.
It is encouraging the Scottish construction industry is bucking the wider Brexit trend with workloads and enquires in rude health. The UK-wide picture is very different, with the construction SME sector overall contracting for the first time in six years.
Scotland’s good fortune could be due to fewer EU workers being based north of the border compared with other parts of the country, like in London where one in three construction workers are from the EU.
Relying less heavily on migrant workers has meant the Scottish construction industry hasn’t fallen foul of thousands of EU workers returning home during the long march to Brexit due to no longer feeling welcome in the UK or sure of their future here.
Scotland’s builders, however, must not be complacent. Looking ahead, the First Minister has indicated that if the UK does leave the EU later this year, she wants a second independence referendum before the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021. This additional political uncertainty, on top of the continued uncertainty stemming from Brexit, could impact on the construction sector in Scotland.
The fear is a looming second referendum could test consumer confidence this year and next. For construction SMEs, this is particularly concerning as their prospects are vulnerable to dips in consumer confidence as so much work comes from the private domestic sector.
Gordon Nelson, Director of FMB Scotland.
Centralising Scottish Government
I was joined by my fellow Conservative councillors in Kilmory recently as we discussed at length the numerous challenges facing Argyll and Bute.
Ferry sailings, roads, education and the SNP’s late single farm payments were all mentioned.
With the SNP hammering local authority spending and cutting our budgets, challenges in delivering services will become more prevalent.
Despite this climate of cuts from the separatists, Conservative councillors are delivering for Argyll. This includes extra funding for the Tarbert and Lochgilphead Regeneration Fund, more funding for infrastructure and an increase in roads winter maintenance resources across Argyll.
As ever, my fellow Conservatives and I will continue to fight non stop to make sure our rural constituency is not sidelined by this unceasingly urban and separatism-obsessed over centralising Scottish Government.
Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and Islands ward.
One for sorrow
I photographed this unusual visitor to Kilduskland Road, Ardrishaig, on April 15. Magpies are not a regular feature in Mid Argyll. We have not seen one in more than 30 years here.
I think I saw a second one, either in pursuit or being pursued.
Ron MacInnes, Ardrishaig.
The Ardrishaig magpie, spotted in April. no_a18Magpie01