Travel links are vital to the social and economic future of the Far North, according to the Caithness Transport Forum

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth will visit forum members in person.

The Scottish Transport Minister has pledged to travel to Caithness to meet in person with members of the local transport forum.

The Caithness Transport Forum had a meeting with MSP Jenny Gilruth to discuss a range of issues affecting not just the transport network but the wider economy of the North Highlands.

Despite a relatively short meeting duration, a spokesperson for the forum said the talks were wide-ranging, with discussion topics including the impact of rising fuel prices on public service obligation contracts. , the importance of local bus services in meeting the political priorities of the Scottish Government, the need to ensure more equitable strategic investment in transport in rural areas, and the continued lack of progress in rolling out road pricing equivalent on Northern Isles ferry services.

The Minister retained a certain number of actions from the meeting and undertook to go there in person to meet the representatives of the forum in order to discuss the issues in greater depth.

At a subsequent forum meeting in late June, members were also alerted to the significant impact delays at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are having on the transport network and the local economy. The impact they have on the recruitment of bus drivers is of direct importance to the forum, with the training process being significantly delayed due to DVSA issues.

Trudy Morris says it's vital that both governments work tomorrow.
Trudy Morris says it’s vital that both governments work tomorrow.

Attendees also heard about the wider impacts of this on the local economy, with long wait times for practical driving tests directly affecting young people’s ability to enter the job market for the first time. The forum brought these issues to the attention of the Secretary of State for Transport and called for action to be taken to address them.

Trudy Morris, chair of the Caithness Transport Forum, said: “Our conversation with the minister and the subsequent discussion of the issues at the DVSA has shown how vital it is that transport issues are not considered in isolation, but in the larger context. broad of the economies and communities served by these networks.

“In a remote and rural area like the North Highlands, we rely heavily on our transport services to ensure equal access to jobs, healthcare, leisure and social opportunities. It is very important to us that our governments, both in Holyrood and Westminster, understand how fragile and vital our transport links are, and take meaningful steps to protect and invest in the region.

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