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Council / SIC makes contact with governments over self-determination

Leader Steven Coutts says the council will undertake ‘extensive research’ on possible future governance models

Lerwick Town Hall.

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) has now formally written to both the UK and Scottish governments about exploring options for achieving financial and political self-determination.

The letter, written by SIC leader councillor Steven Coutts and addressed to prime minister Boris Johnson and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, says that “current arrangements undermine the prosperous and fair future for Shetland residents we want to see”.

It says that the council will conduct “extensive research” into potential future models and request a meeting with senior government ministers.

SIC political leader Steven Coutts.SIC leader Steven Coutts: Photo: Shetland News

The letter was sent to the two governments last Thursday and no response has been received yet.

It follows an 18-2 vote in the council chamber earlier this month on a motion which called for the exploration of more financial and political powers for Shetland.

It was triggered by growing frustration over the trend of centralised decision making and reduced government funding for essential services such as inter-island ferries.

Coutts’ letter reads: “I write following the resounding support of our Council to explore the options for Self-determination for Shetland.

“This follows a meeting held on the 9th September 2020, where the vote was 18-2 in favour of the motion to pursue self-determination options. The strength of feeling demonstrated by the vote highlights that the status quo is not tenable.

“The current arrangements undermine the prosperous and fair future for Shetland residents we want to see. Shetland is proud of our past and continuing wider contribution to Scotland and the UK, through its strategic location and natural resources.

“As we look forward in the areas of energy, fisheries and vertical satellite launch we can continue to provide that role.

“However, we need recognition that additional fiscal and political powers at a Shetland level are essential to maximising these opportunities and achieving the thriving island community we aspire to.

“The council intends to conduct extensive research into the most attractive future model and would formally request a meeting with you and relevant senior ministers to discuss options in early course.”