Isles councils meet at town hall
Council leaders from Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles met in Lerwick today as part of a working group for the islands’ future.
The meeting, held at Lerwick Town Hall, was chaired by local government minister Derek Mackay.
On the agenda for the group’s fourth meeting were major topics including transport, agriculture, tourism, construction and digital services.
The group will meet six times in total and is working towards developing a prospectus outlining opportunities for island communities in the context of the referendum.
The next meeting of the group will be in March in Stornoway – where it is to consider creative industries and special status measures for the islands.
After the meeting Mr Mackay said: “We continue our useful and constructive discussions with our island partners to explore a range of issues that have been raised by the islands councils as we work towards an agreed prospectus.
“This dialogue and the level of ministerial commitment demonstrates how seriously we consider the issues raised, befitting of the importance we attach to the principles of subsidiarity and local decision-making.”
SIC political leader Gary Robinson added: “I believe today’s islands areas ministerial working group has been the most crucial so far.
“Transport was on the agenda and that’s one of the most important issues for the islands given that it impacts upon everything that we do including tourism, which was also discussed today.
“Digital communications is hugely important in the isles and high-speed broadband has the potential to transform the way we live and work in some of Scotland’s remotest communities.
“Today we’ve put to ministers what we want in respect of these issues – along with agriculture, construction and engineering, and look forward to seeing progress towards the prospectus that will be the culmination of this work.”