The Liberal Democrat party is seeking to overcome challenges and provide solutions to long-term Highland problems should voters instil their faith in their candidates on May 5.
The party state that the Highland Council region is unique and differs from every other part of Scotland.
Due to this, they say the area requires “different solutions and services”.
The party states: “One size does not fit all and we need to be flexible.”
Party pledges ‘new hope’ for Highlands
The Liberal Democrats, within their manifesto pledge, are offering the people of the Highlands “new hope”.
The party say they have led the recovery process for the Highlands for the past two years.
The party promise that voters will find “hope and passion” in their candidates.
Bid to end ‘longest ever waits for medical appointments’
Outlining the challenges that lay in wait, the Liberal Democrats say there is a need to improve attainment levels in schools. Calls have also been made for investment into roads to ensure they are brought “back up to standard”.
The party also wish to address the “longest ever waits for medical appointments” alongside the climate emergency.
Reliable and effective public transport, the need for additional social housing and easily accessible care at home for the elderly are other key areas the party is seeking to address.
With the current energy crisis a key point for all parties, the Lib Dems are no different, with rises in energy costs and inflation feared to be driving people into poverty.
‘More funding is required’
The party promises that, if elected, candidates will increase the year-on-year amount allocated to the revenue roads budget beyond the £60 million pledged by Highland Council.
Lib Dems say: “More funding is required”.
Schools are a big motivating factor for the party.
Providing new education facilities, like those planned in Tain, Nairn, Broadford and Ness Castle will be supported, alongside addressing overcrowding issues at the likes of Culloden Academy. The party also promises to improve the condition of rural schools.
In order to raise attainment, the party pledge to lobby the Scottish Government to improve national guidelines to fund more secondary teachers, allowing for smaller class sizes to allow more one-on-one time with youngsters.
Affordable housing high on the agenda
A promise of greater care for the elderly is promised by the party, who seek to ensure that “every elderly person in need has access to care at home” maintaining their independence.
The need and want for more affordable housing across the Highlands is also listed as a key priority in the party’s manifesto.
The Lib Dems promise to build more council houses across the region enabling young people to continue to live in their villages and towns and not have to leave.
They also promise to work with businesses and agencies to provide well-paid jobs across the Highlands, in a bid to reverse the depopulation trend.
Transport improvements required
Transport is high on the agenda of the Liberals with urgent discussions called for with community transport organisations and national providers, such as Stagecoach.
The party say this action will ensure that “nobody feels disconnected or disadvantaged through lack of reliable access to public transport”.
Addressing rising costs to households by providing increased investment in welfare services is one way the Lib Dems say they will ensure people are “not left stranded and at serious risk of poverty”.
Sustainable ways of managing and improving waste recycling are mooted to ensure the Highlands plays its part in addressing climate change challenges.
Promise to ‘listen, raise your issues and keep you informed’
The party promise that Liberal Democrat councillors will always “listen, raise your issues and keep you informed”.
The manifesto concludes: “Back us this May and I promise you that Liberal Democrats in the villages and towns of Highland will show you the meaning of hope, health and prosperity once again.”
142 candidates to battle it out
A total of 142 candidates have put their names forward for election on May 5.
Seventy-one seats are up for grabs across 20 multi-member wards.
One ward has already been determined as only three candidates came forward for the three-member ward of Caol and Mallaig.
The full breakdown of allegiances to parties is as follows:
- Independent – 40
- Other – 12
- Scottish Conservative and Unionist – 21
- Scottish Green Party – 11
- Scottish Labour Party – 14
- Scottish Liberal Democrats – 21
- Scottish National Party (SNP) – 23