Islands’ campaign talks in London

Council leaders are in Westminster this week for high-level talks with the UK government on the Our Islands Our Future campaign.

Three days of discussions got underway this morning at a meeting with Scottish secretary and isles MP, Alistair Carmichael.

SIC leaders and their counterparts from Orkney and the Western Isles are seeking a further devolution of powers to the three island areas to enable more decision making at a local level.

Among key areas under discussion this week are energy, better representation in Europe, the powers of the Crown Estate, and “island proofing” – pro-active consideration of the special requirements of island communities during policy development by government.

Later this year, the UK Government and Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar hope to sign a Concordat incorporating the government’s response to the issues that have been raised in the campaign.

Meetings will also take place with chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, energy minister Ed Davey, advocate general for Scotland Lord Wallace of Tankerness, minister for Europe David Lidington and other senior politicians and government officials.

Speaking on behalf of the three local authorities, Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle said: “This visit follows two days of highly productive talks at Westminster last October.

“Our Islands Our Future has made considerable progress since then, so this is an excellent opportunity to discuss areas at the heart of the campaign in detail ahead of the publication of the Concordat this summer.”

2 comments

  1. John Hutchison

    We don’t know what the status of Shetland is going to be two years from now.

    Rather than waiting to find out, and wondering whether an ‘island-proofing’ ‘concordat’ will stand up to the various possibilities, we need to ensure that referenda are held in the islands. Only then can politicians do their jobs in the circumstances that we the people have chosen.

    Referenda are the only democratic way to fix the islands’ status for the foreseeable future.

    Already more than 1000 people have signed the Scottish Parliament petition calling for a referendum. But we need even more signatures, if we are to put it beyond all possible doubt that the required referenda actually get held on 25 September 2014, a week after the Scottish one.

    The petition can be signed here:
    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/islandgroups

    Please can those who have already signed it spread the news to family, friends, and workmates.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Alas, John, referenda are the ‘stock-in-trade’ of neither the SIC nor the Scottish Government.

      The ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ deal will be presented to the Shetland public as ‘fete accomplis’.

      For the benefit of any who doubt that, let’s consider MSP Mike MacKenzie’s persuasive argument against the SIC’s school closure proposals as reported by ST online at:

      http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2014/05/09/highlands-and-islands-msp-urges-re-think-over-school-closure-plans/

      “In the next 10 years there would be potentially 3,000 jobs available through renewable energy, Mr MacKenzie said.

      As employment levels in the isles are high, “that implies 3,000 new people coming to Shetland, and their families,” said Mr MacKenzie .

      “Even if half of that’s realised over the next decade that’s a big increase in population. …”

      Mr MacKenzie would be unable to use that argument to SIC unless both parties know that a very large capacity submarine cable is going to be installed to link Shetland to the UK mainland grid.

      Funny, that wasn’t mentioned at the ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ public meeting at Mareel, last week?

      Shetland urgently needs a new independence party and lobby group.

      Reply

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