Use of videoconferencing should be the norm for all councillors and the Highland council have much experience within this sphere. It will keep travel costs down, avoid disadvantaging councillors in rural areas by being away from home for long periods, encourage more localised participation in rural areas and ensure services are not city centric…which they have been for too many years now. It is not acceptable to be told to move to a “more accessible area” if you want adequate service provision. We need decisions to be made a people living in rural areas as they understand the impact of change on local people and the environment around them. Citizens in Highland Council rural areas are already disadvantaged by the lack of choice in so many services, e.g. - no brown bin service/lack of care providers/ poor transport options/mileage cost restrictions for staff needing to undertake urgent home visits/no local police station or Court in Sutherland. If city based people are making decisions for citizens in rural areas they may not be aware of local situations that would be worsened as a direct result of their lack of knowledge. The HC500 is a perfect example of that, Inverness caters for tourism very well but to agree to any scheme that could reasonably be expected to increase road traffic, in isolated rural areas, without putting the infrastructure in first, was always going to be catastrophic for local people. But the managers, politicians, councillors and leaders who made those decisions are not affected in any real life way because they are hundreds of miles away.
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