The lack of public transport and mobile phone reception in rural Clydesdale is putting the lives of its inhabitants at risk.
So claim local politicians on both sides of the political divide as the threat of closure facing the Crawford GP surgery has shown that living in one of Scotland’s most scenic areas does have its downside.
Even those living in parts of the Upperward other than Crawford face paying a heavy price for their rural setting, according to the Conservative MP for rural Clydesdale, Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
Speaking after completing his annual parliamentary recess constituency surgery tour, he said: “As always, the tour dates were well attended and a wide range of issues were raised by residents, but it is clear to me that the major issue for Clydesdale remains the sheer lack of mobile reception and painfully slow broadband speeds.
“The fact that large parts of Clydesdale are not even getting a reception at all is an absolute scandal in this day and age.
“Not having mobile signal can also put lives at risk an emergency situation, and I am continuing to work with the Scottish Government to demand that network operators hugely improve access as quickly as possible for people living in rural communities.
“Poor broadband connection also continues to blight Clydesdale communities, which is another issue I am continuing to work with the Scottish Government to pressure providers to vastly improve connections.
“Having access to a broadband connection which is fit for purpose in this day and age is vital to allow people to run a business in a rural community or allow families to watch what they want while browsing the internet.
“The lack of a mobile signal and access to a fast broadband connection unfortunately puts many people off from moving to live and work in this beautiful part of Scotland, and I hope that the situation can be vastly improved by operators and providers as soon as possible.”
He added that he was extremely disappointed at the plan to close the Crawford GP surgery, saying having access to a doctor was vital, no matter where you lived.
His sentiments were echoed by his Holyrood counterpart, Clydesdale’s SNP MSP, Aileen Campbell.
She said she had fears over the ability of non-driving constituents to even reach what would be the nearest surviving surgery to Crawford, in Leadhills.
The poor public transport links between Upperward and Lowther Valley villages could see some Crawford residents facing great difficulties in seeing a doctor at the Leadhills surgery.
She is pursuing this issue with NHS Dumfries and Galloway, and it will make the ultimate decision on the Crawford surgery’s fate as it is an outreach branch of a Moffat GP practice.
She said that bus links from Crawford to Moffat were also insufficient, adding: “Local access to appropriate NHS services is crucial, and the Scottish Government has provided record investment into our NHS to support this.”