Galloway is being ‘overlooked’

Local MP Russell Brown has said Dumfries and Galloway has been “overlooked” by the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) review into rural communities, as it has emerged it will not be holding an evidence gathering session in the region.

Earlier this month the OFT announced thatit would look into the additional costs associated with living in a rural area. However, in a letter to Mr Brown from the Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, he states that evidence gathering sessions will be held only in Kinloch, Inverness and Shetland.

Mr Brown has written to the OFT’s chief executive, John Fingleton, calling on him to bring a meeting of the review to Dumfries and Galloway because “local people deserve to be heard and it is not fair that we are simply being left an afterthought”.

Mr Brown said: “This is an important review, because on a whole range of issues, such as fuel prices, public transport and access to services, rural areas like ours face particular problems. But people in Dumfries and Galloway face a double whammy, because not only do we have the higher costs like other rural communities, but UK and Scottish governments consistently ignore our area.

“Local people were rightly angry when the UK government recently snubbed us by bringing in a rural fuel discount scheme for the islands while ignoring Dumfries and Galloway. It is the lazy attitude of ministers that they assume the rural locations in Scotland are located in the north and the islands, when the reality is our region has some of the most remote parts of the country. The result is we miss out on key support our region really needs.

“I don’t hold out much hope for a change in attitude if the review into rural areas has overlooked us too. Given the history of Dumfries and Galloway being forgotten, the review should be making a particular effort to come to our region and hear firsthand the difficulties facing local people. I have written to the chief executive of the OFT calling on him to have an evidence gathering session in Dumfries and Galloway. Local people deserve to be heard and it is not fair that we are simply being left an afterthought.”