Isles councils meet at town hall

Outside Lerwick Town Hall on Monday are (from left): Angus Campbell (Western Isles Council), Steven Heddle (Orkney Islands Council), local government minister Derek Mackay and Gary Robinson (Shetland Islands Council). Photo: Dave Donaldson
Outside Lerwick Town Hall on Monday are (from left): Angus Campbell (Western Isles Council), Steven Heddle (Orkney Islands Council), local government minister Derek Mackay and Gary Robinson (Shetland Islands Council). Photo: Dave Donaldson

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.”


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • February 18th, 2014 1:22

    I would have to say that the main aspect of these talks should be about the lifeline services that are provided, and that the present company running these services at the moment certainly does not have the interest of the Shetland and Orkney Islands at its main concern. Serco have blatantly and in a rather sligh manner made it very obvious that they’re agenda is purely based on greed and profits.

    One, putting the issue with Shetland Streamline aside, should quite rightly investigate as to how a company which has had little or no experience in either the trade or hospitality industry can manage to get the contract of supplying life line services to Shetland and Orkney Islands as well as tourist and holiday needs.

    It really does put into question the exact processes that were involved in the tender and the Scottish Office decision to give the contract to a company against more reputable competitors when it, Serco, had no or little experience in such contracts in providing lifeline and transportation for the residents of the islands to and from mainland Scotland.

    I sincerely hope, may be as a consequence of Shetland Streamline’s issue, that a full investigation is carried out in regards to the contract given to Serco on the grounds of……………..which, I would suggest, most people in Shetland are absolutely puzzled by.

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 18th, 2014 9:21

      Yes David it does beg a couple questions does it not.
      1) As you say serco have little or no experience running a service like this, yet so far their doing better that the Scottish governments pet ferry firm cal mac. How could this be?
      2) Why was the contract handed to an English company with little experience? could it be that Edinburgh wanted an English company to making an arse of it in the lead up to the referendum.
      A cynical view I know but I see and hear nothing coming from the SNP to lead me to believe any different.
      Yes Shetland or better together, not for me, “better clear o da lot o dem” I say

  • Bill Adams

    • February 18th, 2014 15:50

    Where contracts are the subject of competitive tendering , it is the most competitive
    ie. the lowest bid which will be the winning one – that is surely the whole point of the exercise. Clearly Serco came in with a bid which undercut Northlink’s. As a result, Transport Scotland had no valid option other than to accept Serco’s bid and then negotiate with them.


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