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The vast majority of funding to local authorities from the Scottish Government is provided via a block grant and we do not stipulate how local authorities should utilise their individual allocations. It is therefore the responsibility of each local authority to manage its own budget and to allocate the financial resources available to it on the basis of local needs and priorities, having first fulfilled its statutory obligations and the jointly agreed set of national and local priorities.
Residents in Drumoak and Durris still face huge issues in getting Park bridge reopened and this has left the community divided. Residents, schoolchildren, businesses and families are all affected, with no hope in sight. They are now looking at crowdfunding in order to restore the bridge to traffic. We have a further 61 bridges and more than 100 communities at risk, according to a council report. Is this the state of Scotland under the SNP, with communities having to fundraise to keep their roads and bridges open?
It is the state of a bridge under a Tory-controlled administration in Aberdeenshire Council, just to correct the member. He will be aware that the road and the bridge are the responsibility of the local authority, and it is a bit rich for any Tory to come into this chamber and start demanding funding for public services, given the austerity they have perpetrated on the people of Scotland over the past 10 years. They should be looking at themselves in the mirror and recognising the consequences of the financial decisions that were made by the Tory United Kingdom Government to cut the Scottish Government’s budget year on year. We have done everything that we can to support local authorities, but I am afraid that it is the member’s colleagues in Tory-led Aberdeenshire Council who are responsible for the bridge and getting it repaired.
The minister will be aware of how essential the road network in Shetland is for islanders’ transport needs. He will also be aware that the draft national islands plan recognises the importance of transport links for mobility and access to services. My constituents in Sandness and Walls have highlighted that improvements are needed to rural roads in Shetland. What support will come from the national islands plan to help Shetland Islands Council with those necessary upgrades?
The member will be aware that we have just completed the draft process of the national transport strategy, which sets out a range of measures that we will take forward to improve transport connectivity across the country, including in our island communities. She will also be aware that any actions or improvements on roads that are necessary to improve connectivity within a local authority’s area are its responsibility.
We will continue to do what we can to minimise the impact that UK Government cuts are having on the Scottish Government’s budget and to help to protect local authorities, including Shetland Islands Council. However, it is important that local authorities play their part in maintaining their local road network to an appropriate level.