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Election / Lib Dems and SNP both publish five-point plans for transport

The Bressay ferry terminal. SIC councillors are eager to get a new funding deal in place for running ferries and upgrading infrastructure by 2018. Photo: Shetland News/Neil Riddell.
Photo: Shetland News

LIBERAL Democrats’ candidate for the Shetland by-election Beatrice Wishart has published her transport plan for Shetland detailing her priorities should she be elected as the isles’ new MSP on 29 August.

She said SNP government policies such as Sumburgh airport car parking charges and the failure to deliver on the promise of cheaper ferry fares were damaging the islands.

SNP candidate Tom Wills responded by saying that Wishart’s plan did look very similar to his own, published ten days ago, with the one difference that he – should he be elected – would be able to influence government policy more directly.

Wishart meanwhile said, Lib Dems had a “record of action” for the islands, including the introduction of the Air Discount Scheme which was introduced in May 2006 when former local MSP Tavish Scott was transport minister.

Wishart’s five-point plan includes:

  • Full implementation of cheaper fares, now long overdue, including cabins. Demand all money not spent in the last 12 months on cheaper fares is recycled back into Shetland services;
  • immediately address the concerns of local people by increasing capacity for cabins, cars and for freight including increasing direct freight sailings every night at peak times;
  • reverse the SNP decision to remove business travel from the Air Discount Scheme and an end to parking charges at Sumburgh;
  • a ministerial guarantee of fair funding for internal ferry services, ending the year on year ransom for funding;
  • demand ministers finally recognise the need to address fixed links and come forward with long term funding and a plan by the end of this parliament.

She said transport was of vital importance to local communities.

“From the delivery of the air discount scheme to securing funding in the Scottish Government budget for internal ferry services and leading the campaign for cheaper ferry fares, I am proud of the Liberal Democrat record. In stark contrast, the SNP have failed to deliver on their promises and introduced parking charges at Sumburgh,” she said.

“It is totally unacceptable for SNP ministers to hold our lifeline services at ransom. We need a change, and my five-point plan sets out a positive alternative for Shetland that would make the real difference that local people deserve.”

Wills said: “Voters may remember the 5-point plan to slash travel costs that I published over a week ago.

“The difference between my plan, and what the Lib Dems have published today, is that I’ll be working with the Scottish Government to implement my proposals – instead of making demands from the side-lines while refusing to take part in budget talks.

“I’ve already taken the opportunity to push these plans with government ministers and it’s clear they are ready for fresh ideas to support these islands.”

There are ten candidates contesting the Shetland by-election on 29 August.

They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Michael Stout (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).

Read more about all ten candidates at our special Shetland by-election page at: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/features/election-2019/