SHETLAND Islands Council leader Cecil Smith says he will look to continue the work done by his predecessor Gary Robinson in promoting the political interests of the isles.
The Lerwick South councillor, who took on the leader role following’s May’s local election, met transport and islands minister Humza Yousaf and his colleagues from the Orkney and Western Isles councils on Tuesday.
The three leaders said after the meeting that they wished to reaffirm their commitment to the Scottish Government’s proposed islands bill, which is currently in the draft phase.
The legislation seeks to “island-proof” decision-making across the public sector, although Shetland MSP Tavish Scott raised concerns it may be just a “tick box exercise”.
Robinson was an important fixture in the Our Islands Our Future group, which brought together the Northern and Western Isles following 2014’s Scottish independence referendum to explore greater empowerment for the islands, and Smith said he hopes to build on the past negotiations.
“We look forward to developing the positive work undertaken by our predecessors in these roles,” he said.
“Yesterday’s discussions with the minister were very productive and set the agenda for transformational change for the future welfare of our islands.”
Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan added: “We will continue working together with our islands’ colleagues to ensure that the islands bill works in a tangible manner.
“As we come to the challenging process of having the bill pass through parliament, we need to ensure that we get the results which directly benefit our communities.
“We believe that increased local accountability, decision making and control is critical to future management of resources.”
Western Isles leader Roddie MacKay, meanwhile, said that Tuesday’s meeting was a “continuation of productive political engagement” between the councils and the government.
“We are committed to fully utilising our islands’ resources and to see the islands thrive and contribute to national wellbeing throughout the 21st century in Scotland. The measures in the islands bill underpin this aim,” he added.