There was the odd dash of outspoken material at the inaugural meeting of the newly elected East Nairnshire Community Council in the Glenferness village hall on Wednesday night.
On the subject of the Dial a Bus service there were mixed reactions. David Cook said: “It would be interesting if we actually knew something about the Dial a Bus. It’s one of those great, grey mysteries.”
Heidi Tweedie had a different perspective: “I didn’t know anything about it and a neighbour, when her sister came over from America, had no transport, and she used the Dial a Bus and found it to be incredibly good value and excellent service.”
David replied: "It is if you can get hold of it."
There were further complaints about the Dial a Bus including an allegation of seeming to get a “runaround” on the telephone. There did seem to be a lack of precise knowledge about the service provided by the Dial a Bus David Cook again:
“It’s another box that has been ticked to excuse the fact that we have no public transport. We were promised public transport when the railway closed, a bus from Grantown to Nairn was going to run regularly to provide transport. That lasted about three weeks.”
There was also discussion about the efficacy of the school bus service. On both transport topics Colin MacAulay, the Highland Councillor was up from the town, said: It’s a good topic for an agenda item when you do your research in terms of what you’ve got and in terms of what you think should be better.” But Colin had a warning, he added, “But there’s not likely to be funding for an expansion of services.”
A little later David Cook had a further contribution to make: “Older people up here are faced with two choices: they stay here and rely on neighbours and that has always been the way, people have always helped out or they move to the town. Why the hell should they leave the place they have lived in for most of their life just because there is no transport and they are unable to drive? I think that is grossly unfair – it’s actually an infringement of human rights.”
Margaret Walsh then said she would actually say that it was same for people with younger kids given the cost of fuel etc.
Public and school transport exercised the minds of the last East Nairnshire Community Council and continues to be a topic of debate for the new slate of councillors. What the newly elected members can achieve in a time of austerity remains to be seen but perhaps there are some out of the box ideas that might be possible to improve the lot of those who live in the country but find themselves increasingly cut off, simply due to the problems of growing old or the increasing cost of fuel.