29th September 2016
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Yousaf: Islands’ needs are at heart of government’s agenda

Islands minister Humza Yousaf has lauded the “significant” cultural and economic contribution island communities make to Scotland while announcing the progression of the Islands Bill.

The introduction of the Islands Bill comes less than a year after the Scottish government started a consultation on what island residents thought should be included in the bill.

Alex Salmond after his fog-delayed arrival at Sumburgh on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Alex Salmond during his 2013 visit to the isles, when the ‘Lerwick declaration’ was made. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Following the launch of Our Islands Our Future in June 2013 then First Minister Alex Salmond vowed to give island communities greater autonomy in his “Lerwick declaration”.

This pledge appears to be reaching its final stages, three years after it was promised.

In March the government announced the key findings of the consultation, which showed that some 91 per cent of respondents believed the government should consider “island-proofing” legislation.

Seventy-three per cent stated that the current powers of island councils were insufficient, while views were evenly split on whether any additions should be made to the existing Zetland and Orkney County Council Acts of 1974.

Mr Yousaf, who took on the role of islands minister following the Scottish elections earlier this year, made the comments during a trip to the Western Isles where he met local producers and community representatives.

Humza Yousaf. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Humza Yousaf: “We have placed the aspirations and needs of our island communities at the centre of our empowerment agenda.” Photo: Dave Donaldson

He said: “Our islands make a significant contribution to Scottish life from both a cultural and economic perspective. As such, I am immensely proud to be able to announce that I am bringing forward an Islands Bill less than a year after my predecessor launched the government’s consultation on potential provisions.

“We have placed the aspirations and needs of our island communities at the centre of our empowerment agenda. Drawing on the work of both the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group and the consultation findings, the Bill will provide lasting benefits for all our island communities for generations to come.”

Mr Yousaf added: “I believe that this demonstrates our strong and continued support for our island communities and our desire to deliver quickly on the election promises set out in our manifesto. I now look forward to working with the various island communities and representatives in bringing this into effect over the next year.”

The announcement comes three weeks after Mr Yousaf’s first visit to Shetland as islands minister. During his time in the isles Mr Yousaf announced a ferry fare freeze and insisted that reductions would follow. However, he has faced criticism for not living up to a pre-election promise to cut fares.

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8 comments

  1. ian tinkler

    Mr Yousaf added: “I believe that this demonstrates our strong and continued support for our island communities and our desire to deliver quickly on the election promises set out in our manifesto”!! Deliver quickly, Ferryv Fares frozen for at least 18 months, Ewing breaks promise on Shetland Broadband!,Typical SNP, some promises!!!
    http://www.shetnews.co.uk/images/exchange/tower/election_2016_skene_160407.jpg

    Reply
  2. David Spence

    I am intrigued as to where the SNP’s priorities are in regard to supporting a ‘ private company – Serco ‘ to this of lowering the fares Serco are charging Shetlander’s and Tourist’s alike since they took over such valuable services to the islands.

    One certainly gets the impression Serco getting the contract under, I think, very suspicious circumstances, priorities are to make the maximum profit (spending as little as possible on what monies the SNP gives them) and providing a sub-standard service where it is obvious Serco do not give much thought at all to the people of Shetland…………as said……..profits are Serco’s main priority.

    Serco may have been, allegedly, the cheapest bidder in getting the contract, but they have proven, I think, to be the most expensive company Shetlander’s have had dealings with when it comes to travelling via Serco……profits at all costs…….company.

    Is the SNP going to reinstate the 15% islanders allowance Serco stole from us, as well as forcing Serco to provide a proper service rather than a sub-standard service and at higher costs than any previous life line provider????

    Reply
  3. Johan Adamson

    Please can we also have ferry fare reductions where a family can travel to other islands for reasonable prices and to the mainland for reasonable prices including a cabin which is a necessity overnight. This will allow us to travel and stimulate tourism.

    Reply
  4. Steven Jarmson

    I’ll be very interested to see if the Crown Estate will be (further) devolved to the isles as recommended by the Smith Commission as part of the island proofing and recognition that we have different needs to Scotland.
    This is a very clear opportunity for the SNP to show the isles that they are living up to the “spirit” of the Smith Commission.
    This is an even more clear opportunity for the SNP to show they don’t just want to centralise every bit of power that they recieve from West Minster and soon Brussels.

    Reply
  5. Brian Smith

    35 years ago autonomy for Shetland was being discussed everywhere. Nowadays it attracts very little attention. Candidates for government mention it briefly during elections, but afterwards silence ensues. The island authorities have done well to keep the subject alive, and to have negotiated a practical result.

    Reply
  6. ian_tinkler

    The island authorities have done well to keep the subject alive, and to have negotiated The island authorities have done well to keep the subject alive, and to have negotiated a practical result.. Really Brian Smith, “a practical result.” would that be the our islands pink elephant aerobatic display? If not please enlighten us to exactly what practical result benefiting Shetland you are talking about.

    Reply
  7. John Tulloch

    (Mr Yousaf): “I am immensely proud to be able to announce that I am bringing forward an Islands Bill less than a year after my predecessor launched the government’s consultation on potential provisions.”

    Ok, that good. Let’s see it, then, till we see what we think of it.

    Reply
  8. John Tulloch

    Well, well! I see OIOF has just become “Scotland’s fastest growing campaign group”.

    Mr Yousaf reportedly said:

    “I’ve already had numerous positive conversations with council leaders who will be getting round the table to represent the interests of our many and varied island communities and look forward to further constructive discussions in the future.”

    “… council leaders …(representing)… our many and varied island communities..”

    Now that six councils, representing more than half a million people are involved, wIll the name be changing to “Our Islands, Our Fudge’?

    Reply

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