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Islanders urged to attend OFT meeting

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is calling on islanders to attend Thursday’s public meeting hosted by the Office of Fair Trading as part of its fact-finding study onto remote communities.

Mr Scott said he hoped local folk would tell OFT officials to stop procrastinating and start investigating why islanders are paying through the nose for many products.

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The OFT is carrying out national research into the “challenges facing consumers and businesses in remote communities across the UK”.

They are visiting seven areas from Devon in the south of England to Highland region and Shetland, in Scotland.

Mr Scott said: “The OFT’s visit to Shetland is an opportunity to say where no competition is pushing local prices up.

“Delivery costs for parcels is one area where local people find courier companies ripping us off with exorbitant charges. But the biggest bugbear is fuel.”

The OFT’s Kyla Brand said the government agency would also explore how other countries address specific market issues arising in isolated communities.

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“Geography and population density can have a major impact on the cost and accessibility of goods and services to consumers, and on how businesses operate.

“We are particularly keen to hear from people in Shetland to help us get a clearer picture of these issues and understand and explain some of the reasons behind them.

“We also want to explore what the OFT, or other bodies could do to reduce the downsides, and maximise the benefits of remoteness,” she said.

The council’s trading standards manager David Marsh added: “This is a unique opportunity for folk to speak directly to the Office of Fair Trading, to help them understand the particular issues and difficulties which affect us here in Shetland.

“I would encourage everyone to attend and put across their views and experience.”
The meeting takes place on Thursday between 6pm and 8pm at the Islesburgh Community Centre, in Lerwick.

Those who cannot attend the event are requested to send their views before 20 April to the OFT Office in Scotland, 23 Walker Street, Edinburgh EH3 7HX, fill in an online form at www.oft.gov.uk/remcom, or email remotecommunities@oft.gsi.gov.uk

The OFT expects to publish the outcome of its study by July this year.

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