Nigel’s Notes - A937/A90 junction should be a priority

Last week was marred by a very serious accident on the A90 at Laurencekirk.

This occurred at the junction with the A937 from Marykirk, at precisely the place where we have been campaigning for a flyover for the last decade. What makes it so frustrating for all of us involved is that this was predictable and predicted. There are of course other stretches of road in Scotland which are statistically more dangerous, but there can be few individual junctions like this.

Transport Scotland has commissioned a study of the options and we had a public preview a few months back. This was due to report in March – we are still waiting. Given that every one of the proposals involved a flyover at the south junction I have written to the Transport Minister once again pressing the Scottish government to give this the priority we know it needs.

Last week was also apprentice week. This is an opportunity to publicise the national apprentice schemes and to congratulate those who have done particularly well. I had the honour of hosting an event in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the Scottish Training Federation and presenting awards to outstanding apprentices; I was impressed by the things their employers had to say. Of course many aspire to go to university, and I would not want to put them off doing so, but many see training at work as a good way forward and that is to be encouraged.

One of the persistent difficulties in our society is getting girls to train for male dominated jobs. The building trades and engineering generally are still seen as careers that women would not normally go into. This seems to be largely a cultural thing: a combination of peer pressure, parental expectations, educational bias and plain ignorance.

There is also it seems to be fewer people with disabilities in apprenticeships than one would expect. Whilst I suspect this is actually the case gathering the information is not helped by the way we use language. I still hear the phrase “disabled people” far too often.

Talking about “people with disabilities” is not a matter of political correctness but brings out two things: firstly it puts the person first, and secondly it implicitly allows for minor disabilities. I am a person with a disability – I have a damaged ear and some hearing loss as a result. This is entirely corrected by a hearing aid to the point that I forget I’m even wearing it. You would struggle to notice and there’s no one would regard me as a “disabled person”. Let’s be careful how we use language please; sometimes it matters.

The official opening of the Stonehaven Open Air swimming pool on Saturday reminds me that we are heading for summer, even if the weather so far has not been too bright. Let’s enjoy the opportunities we have right on our doorstep, and make the best of the opportunities for tourism which benefits our local economy.