Shetland candidate for the Liberal Democrats Tavish Scott claimed today his party’s election manifesto includes key pledges to take action on housing, air travel and broadband which would help islanders.
Mr Scott, who as party leader is facing a difficult election campaign nationally, said a “range of policies important to Shetland” had been included in the manifesto. He said the document focused on setting out “realistic” policies for public services and the creation of jobs.
It includes a commitment to restore the application of the Air Discount Scheme (ADS) to business travel in and out of the isles. The SNP is continuing with ADS, which Mr Scott introduced in 2006, but has removed the discount from businesses and public bodies.
With a waiting list of around 1,000 for homes in Shetland, the manifesto includes a commitment to building new social houses.
Mr Scott said: “The shortage of affordable housing remains an important issue. Despite the sterling efforts of the Hjaltland Housing Association and of the council we still need more affordable homes. I have made sure that our manifesto includes new funding for social housing. I want to make sure Shetland gets its rightful share of this.”
He pledged to provide funding which would “help to get superfast broadband to places which the market cannot reach”. He wants to see such funding being used “to help Shetland Broadband deliver broadband across the isles”.
Other major policies include reforming Scottish Water and abolishing Scottish Enterprise, replacing it with regional development banks. The Lib Dems are also opposed to the establishment of a single police force and want to “cut red tape” on small businesses.
Mr Scott added: “Our policies for the local delivery of services are particularly relevant in the islands where the potential for other parties’ centralising agenda to damage vital services is greatest. Whether it is our fire and police services, or even social care, only the Scottish Liberal Democrats can be relied upon to oppose central belt centralisation.”
The Scottish Lib Dems – facing a backlash against unpopular public spending cutbacks from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition at Westminster – suffered a fresh blow on Monday when party veteran John Farquhar Munro backed the SNP’s Alex Salmond for another term as first minster.
Meanwhile independent Shetland candidate Billy Fox has renewed his attack on the coalition’s hike in North Sea oil tax for showing a “lack of regard” for Scottish industry.
“Oil companies do pay their taxes,” he said. “[George] Osborne’s budget proposal would increase this from 75 per cent to 81 per cent for mature fields subject to Petroleum Revenue Tax (PRT) and from 50 per cent to 62 per cent on fields not subject to PRT, a steady income which has kept the country on its feet for the last 35 years.
“It would make more sense if the Lib/Cons concentrated their efforts on extracting tax from those companies who don’t pay their taxes, instead of undermining business confidence in the North Sea oil industry.”
* You can read the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ election manifesto in full here: www.scotlibdems.org.uk/files/SLD2011manifesto.pdf.