Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Campaign Update, Day 15, Midwinter

This was the dawn of Midwinter's day, seen across Kilchoan Bay, bringing light and, perhaps, a little warmth to an embattled community. Not only are we fighting NHS Highland's decision to withdraw our nurses from overnight cover for 999 calls, but we've also heard that Fergusson's coal lorry, which hasn't been out for 8 weeks, won't now be coming until the new year. Many people, particularly our old people, are heavily dependent on coal - we are, with our central heating, hot water and cooking all using coal - and we're almost out. There was a day when the coal came regularly, on the first Tuesday of the month.

Last night West Ardnamurchan's Community Council met to discuss progress in our campaign to save our nurses, and made what, in view of today's news, was a good decision - to set up a small subcommittee to fight for the vital services upon which this community depends.

Despite temperatures so low that ice was forming on the inside of windscreens, and some roads which have yet to see a gritter, a big crowd packed WACC's emergency meeting, listening as Chairman Rosie Curtis outlined progress in the campaign. She highlighted our anger that NHS Highland had given us so little warning, at such a difficult time of year, in which to react to a situation which NHS Highland presented as a fait accompli. Yet we already have strong support, from Charles Kennedy, MP, from MSPs Fergus Ewing, Dave Thompson and Mary Scanlon, and from Councillor Michael Foxley. The press, too, has taken our story, with The Oban Times featuring it for two weeks running on its front page, and good coverage in the Press & Journal and Lochaber News.

A number of lines of future action were decided upon. Immediately, a petition, addressed to Nicola Sturgeon, is circulating in the village which we are asking everyone to sign. We are also producing a newsletter so those who don't have access to the internet can be kept informed.

While Rosie was at pains to thank those from both within and without the community who have thrown themselves into our fight, her main message was one of defiance. We may be a small community. We may be stuck out on the end of a remote peninsula. But we are united in fighting for what we consider to be our lives.




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