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‘Punished for being successful’ – Wir Shetland

SHETLAND is being penalised by the Scottish government for having financial oil reserves, a group campaigning for more island autonomy has claimed.

Wir Shetland said basic services such as education and social care should not be paid for from the local authority’s reserves.

Shetland Islands Council’s block grant from the government has been cut by a further 5.4 per cent for 2017/18. This follows on from a similar cut to its budget for the current financial year.

In a statement the group described the settlement as “extremely unfair”, particularly in the light of the economic contribution Shetland makes to the UK and Scottish economy.

“This means we are effectively subsidising the rest of Scotland – hardly what the oil fund was designed for in the first place,” Wir Shetland said.

“The current council accomplished an extremely difficult task in balancing the books and averting the financial disaster that was very much possible a few years ago. Now it seems their efforts are being punished for being successful.”

The group is not fielding its own candidates, but some Wir Shetland members are standing as independents.

Wir Shetland has expressed its doubts regarding the promised deal which is likely to see the Scottish Government provide greater funding for the inter-island ferry service.

“We are yet to hear any details of this deal which must be of great concern to the service users in the isles,” the statement said.

And the group asked if any such deal would mean more centralisation if control over inter-island ferries is passed to government agency Transport Scotland.

“The question we ask is why do Shetlanders continue to accept this? With the resources around these islands, not to mention the resourcefulness of its residents, we should be able to not just sustain existing service levels but far surpass them,” Wir Shetland said.

Duncan Simpson of Wir Shetland said the statement was a “collaborative effort” by its committee, which at present doesn’t have a specific spokesman or spokeswoman.

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