Last year we had a “galling” SIC budget cut of five per cent. This was more than any other area in Scotland.
Seemingly no-one is surprised that the SIC’s budget has been slashed by a further 5.4 per cent. Strange that, a year ago, a five per cent cut was labelled by our leaders as “galling” where as this year it is merely “disappointing”. A notable change in tone.
This situation must seem extremely unfair to many Shetlanders who are aware of the vast sums we contribute to the wider UK/Scottish economy.
The fact of the matter is we are penalised because our council has oil reserves to draw from. This means we are effectively subsidising the rest of Scotland – hardly what the oil fund was designed for in the first place. We should not have to be drawing from the reserves to pay for basic services like education and social care.
The current council accomplished an extremely difficult task in balancing the books and averting the financial disaster that was very much possible a few years ago. Now it seems their efforts are being punished for being successful.
We were not responsible for the financial crisis and since then Shetland’s economy has continued to grow yet we are told we must accept austerity, with even greater cuts than most other areas.
It seems this supposed deal with Transport Scotland to cover the costs of inter-island ferry travel is being touted as a possible mitigating factor.
We are yet to hear any details of this deal which must be of great concern to the service users in the isles.
Will control pass to Transport Scotland? More centralisation? How much of the money saved by the SIC will be invested in the isles currently served by the ferries?
Will the Scottish government then be in control of the service, deciding fares, the frequency of runs etc?
The question we ask is why do Shetlanders continue to accept this? With the resources around these islands, not to mention the resourcefulness of its residents, we should be able to not just sustain existing service levels but far surpass them.
If you want endless cuts, centralisation and unfairness stick with the status quo; if you want something better for your children; then help us forge a new path and support Wir Shetland.