Quadbiking postie hopes island gets first road

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AN intrepid postie forced to drive through water on a quadbike on her daily round may finally be able to keep her feet dry.

Gill Vollum delivers mail on an island with no roads leaving her with no option but to off-road it through bogs and seawater.

Now Gill is looking forward to a more comfortable trip after her local council agreed to consider a £500,000 plan to build a road on Kererar, Inner Hebrides.

The northern and southern ends of Kerrera are currently only connected by a huge bog which has seawater running into it.

The council will discuss plans to build a road, allowing Gill and others to bypass the bog, at a meeting tomorrow (Thur).

Gillian Vollum, postwoman (Pic Stephen Lawson)

But this comes with a catch, as the road can only be built if islanders lead the effort to stump up the £500,000 bill.

39-year-old Gill said the current transport situation on the island was very difficult.

She explained: “Trying to get up to the north end of the island is very hard. It’s not really a track to the north – it goes through fields and the middle bit is really a great huge bog, and at some point the sea goes into that bog and you go wheel-deep in seawater.

“We have our community Christmas party on Saturday and getting half the children to meet Santa is a complete logistical nightmare.

“There are only 45 people on the island and some haven’t met each other since the last Christmas party and it’s not because we are miserable so-and-so’s.

“There is one mum with an 18-month-son who is having to put him in a backpack and walk through the bog for two and a half miles to make the party.”

(Pic Stephen Lawson)

Argyll and Bute Council members have said that islanders may have to sell land and find funding grants themselves, but locals want help from the council.

Martin Shields, chairman of the island development trust, said: “The island is not looking to fund the construction of this road but we are more than willing to help where we can.

“Everyone knows that councils are struggling, nevertheless it is their responsibility to lead on finding funding and bring together partners in the hope that we can finally connect the island.”

(Pic Stephen Lawson)

He also admitted that the island development trust’s status as a charity means it “might be able to access pockets of funding that council or government cannot.”

Jim Smith, Argyll and Bute Council’s Head of Road and Amenity Services said: “Residents view the provision of a road as a lifeline link due to concerns regarding existing access for emergency services and medical staff to the island.”

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Council confirmed they were involved in designing and funding the road.

He said: “So far our design services team has carried out a topographical survey and we will be assisting further by doing detailed design work to support bids.

“Our social enterprise team will work closely with the community group to help them identify and then apply to external funding sources.”

 
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