Twenty-eight Scottish local authorities will share in the latest round of allocations from the executive's rural transport fund. The proposed grants, which are six per cent above those allocated previously, brings the total allocation under the scheme to over£14m.
Ms Boyack said:
'Our rural transport fund is providing a significant boost to transport in rural Scotland. We are already seeing developments up and down the country with over 300 new or improved services introduced. These have been mainly bus services but there have also been significant improvements to the life-line ferry and air services on which our island communities so much depend.
'All rural areas will benefit; in particular the Highlands and Islands which will receive£1.5m and the south of Scotland which will benefit to the tune of almost£500,000.
'Subject to the necessary approval of the grant report by the Scottish parliament, these funds will not only enable local authorities to maintain the new services which they have introduced but add to these. The grant forms part of the wider package which includes help for community transport projects and rural petrol stations.'
1.£14.2m over three years (1998-2001) is being made available to aid transport in rural areas. As well as help for public transport services, the Rural Transport Fund is supporting community transport projects and assisting rural petrol stations.
2. In the last two years£3.5m per annum has been allocated to local authorities to assist in providing improvements to rural public passenger transport services. As well as assisting bus services there has also been improvements to air and inter-island ferry services. So far over 300 new or improved services have been introduced.
3. The 6% increase in allocations in 2000-01 recognises the concerns of local authorities about the effect of inflation on maintaining the services introduced in the first two years.
4. The breakdown of the grant allocation is: Aberdeenshire -£351,000; Angus -£131,000; Argyll and Bute -£300,000; Clackmannanshire -£35,000; Dumfries and Galloway -£322,000; East Ayrshire -£49,000; East Dunbartonshire -£32,000; East Lothian -£54,000; East Renfrewshire -£32,000; Eilean Siar -£314,000; Falkirk -£48,000; Fife -£96,000; Highland -£617,000; Inverclyde -£30,000; Midlothian -£41,000; Moray -£103,000; North Ayrshire -£64,000; North Lanarkshire -£41,000; Orkney Islands -£167,000; Perth and Kinross -£174,000; Renfrewshire -£34,000; Scottish Borders -£167,000; Shetland Islands -£131,000; South Ayrshire -£82,000; South Lanarkshire -£131,000; Stirling -£85,000; West Dunbartonshire -£32,000; West Lothian -£45,000.
5. The distribution method was decided following consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and provides for a base amount to all councils outwith the four cities augmented by a further amount according to population density, settlement patterns and remoteness from 'service' centres. A further six per cent of the total of these two factors was added to each council's allocation mainly towards meeting the cost of inflation.
6. A research project to evaluate the effectiveness of the rural transport fund is currently being carried out and will report later in the year. This will help Scottish ministers to gauge for future rural transport funding requirements.