UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Monday 17 June 2024
 10.4°C   NNW Gentle Breeze
Ukraine fundraiser - 18 June 2024

News / Views sought on islands bill

Tavish Scott MSP and SNP candidate Danus Skene

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is the only islands politician to condemn the Scottish Government’s consultation on further devolution to island communities.

Islands minister Derek Mackay was in Lewis on Wednesday to launch the consultation on proposals that could see stronger islands representation at Holyrood and the creation of a National Islands Plan.

But the local MSP, a staunch critic of the SNP’s record in government, said the islands have been stripped of powers over recent years – only to be given the opportunity of being consulted on what he described as a “draft SNP manifesto.”

Meanwhile his SNP opponent at next year’s Scottish parliament election, Danus Skene, said the consultation was the next step in a “constructive process” that could give islands greater autonomy.

Scott said: “The SNP have been in power for eight years. They have removed powers, responsibilities and money from the islands. Only now, six months before an election, do they decide to ask people what they want.

“Why is there no guarantee over the seabed being placed under island control? Why does the SNP not accept that creating a state police force has not helped community policing? Why are Shetland’s health services underfunded by £900,000 every year by the SNP’s own funding formula?

“The Scottish Government could answer these questions. But instead of explaining the GP crisis, the imposition of school league tables on Shetland education and exclusion of Shetland from the government’s cheaper ferry fares scheme we are presented with a draft SNP manifesto for next year’s elections.”

Skene responded saying that the consultation was an important step forward.

“For me, there are two key principles being put into effect as consultation helps to draft an Islands Bill.

“First, fairness. Island communities suffer from a number of disadvantages of remoteness from markets and from national infrastructure. The Scottish Government is committed to equality of access for island communities within the nation as a whole.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

“Second, autonomy. All local authorities should have greater control over their own resources and public decisions, but this is especially true in the isles, which must have their own status to meet their needs and aspirations.

“Greater autonomy for Shetland and other island communities means altering the balance in our relationship with the Edinburgh government, and that is what an islands bill is about.

Wednesday’s announcement builds on the ‘Our Islands Our Future’ (OIOF) initiative, which has lobbied for the interests of Scotland’s island communities at Holyrood and Westminster since 2013.

Shetland Islands Council leader Gary Robinson could not be contacted on Wednesday, but in a statement issued by OIOF, Western Isles council leader Angus Campbell urged people to respond to the consultation.

“The launch of this consultation is very significant in securing greater powers for Island areas and is the first islands-specific piece of legislation in over 40 years.

This is an opportunity for everyone to help shape a more prosperous and fairer future for our Islands”, he said.

The consultation seeks views on:

  • Island-proofing – whether a legal duty should be placed on Ministers and relevant public bodies to ‘island-proof’ their functions and decisions;
  • Empowering island communities – what additional powers and functions could be passed to island councils to benefit or better protect the island communities they serve;
  • National islands plan – whether a legal duty should be placed on all future Scottish Governments to prepare a ‘National Islands Plan’, setting out on-going commitments across all policy areas of Government to support, promote and empower our island communities;
  • Statutory protection for the Nah-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary;
  • Local government electoral wards – whether the Local Government Boundary Commission in Scotland should have discretion to recommend wards with less than three councillors so that populated islands are not placed in an electoral ward that contains a significant proportion of mainland population.

Mackay said: “With the appointment of the first islands minister there can be no doubt of the Scottish Government’s on-going commitment to our island communities.

“I therefore see the launch of today’s consultation as the next step in helping inform the Government’s work for a more prosperous and fairer future for our island communities.”

Highlands and islands list SNP MSP Mike Mackenzie added: “The proposals contain a number of game changing suggestions including a desire to improve transport and connectivity.

“Perhaps the biggest prize, and the most warmly welcomed is the commitment to devolve 100 per cent of Crown Estate revenues to island and coastal communities.

“Crown Estate revenues from seabed leases are set to grow as we realise the opportunities of marine renewables, and all of our island and coastal communities could benefit significantly from what will be a reliable and increasing revenue stream.

The consultation document can be found here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/islands-team/islands-bill-consultation 

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 
Categories

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.