Campaign leaders collect public service award
Launched in June 2013 the campaign aimed to tackle a range of shared issues on the back of the opportunity presented by the independence referendum.
The campaign gained commitments from both the Scottish and UK governments. Those behind it have won the Leadership category at the Scottish Public Service Awards on Friday.
Following the ceremony the SIC’s political leader Gary Robinson said: “This award is recognition of the unprecedented joint work between the three islands councils. I welcome the acknowledgement of our national lobbying to promote the needs of our islands and to find solutions that best fit our communities.
“Work is now ongoing with both the Scottish and UK governments to deliver on their respective pledges. I’d like to thank all those involved who have worked on and supported the Our Islands Our Future campaign since the start of 2013.”
The leaders of the two other islands councils – Orkney Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) – spoke of their delight.
Orkney Islands Council convener Steven Heddle said: “This is recognition of the work we’ve done in the islands, collectively and in our island groups. It shows that thinking differently is both relevant and appropriate, and vindicates our key argument that one size should not fit all, and that we need the flexibility to find islands solutions to make the most of our opportunities and address our issues.”
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, added: “The referendum in Scotland opened up a unique opportunity for the island areas to enforce the fact that the needs and status of island areas are different and need to be clearly recognised in the new era for Scotland. I am delighted that through this joint working since the launch of the project back in June 2013, we have demonstrated what a cohesive and innovative approach can achieve in bringing real benefits on issues which are of importance to our communities.”
As part of the commitments from governments a newly-created islands’ portfolio has been handed to MSP Derek Mackay, while
Westminster created an Islands Working Group, comprised of the three councils and the Scotland Office, which will meet a minimum of three times annually to discuss and “help drive forward” economic and social priorities, with input from “lead UK government departments.”
There will also be an annual meeting between the secretary of state for Scotland – at present Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael – and the three island councils.