Isles politicians have highlighted their concerns about island supply chains in a call with Scottish ministers.
MP Alistair Carmichael, alongside isles MSP Beatrice Wishart and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur outlined problems encountered in getting supplies to businesses and constituents during the call with rural economy and tourism cabinet minister Fergus Ewing and islands minister Paul Wheelhouse on Thursday.
All three isles politicians have spoken with wholesalers and shop owners in the Northern Isles, and urged ministers to help apply pressure on suppliers to improve supply chains as well as do more to allow local wholesalers to access support under the various government schemes.
Mr Ewing and Mr Wheelhouse have agreed to keep isles politicians updated on discussions with suppliers and the supermarkets.
“I am glad that we were able to talk directly to ministers about these supply concerns,” said Mr Carmichael. “Wholesalers play a vital role in keeping our independent shops and care homes running. Rules made in London and Edinburgh do not always take account of that. Local shops on Fair Isle or on Westray need consistent and reliable supply lines just as much as mainland towns.”
Ms Wishart said: “The engagement with Ministers today about the food supply chain was very helpful. It’s also important that the government look again at the business support schemes in place. We are hearing every day about businesses that risk going under because of the gaps in support.
“The help that is there is welcome, but eligibility criteria must be reconsidered to ensure that businesses in Shetland can get the help they need.
“I will be following up again with Ministers next week to highlight issues isles businesses are facing and I would encourage anyone who feels like they are missing out to get in touch.”
Mr McArthur commented: “I welcome the willingness of ministers to listen to the feedback as to what is happening on the ground in our island communities. These supply chains are vital in ensuring our communities get access to the food and supplies they need at this enormously difficult time.
“However, it’s not just the island shops that are affected when suppliers fail to meet their responsibilities. Local wholesalers in Orkney also supply cares homes and the hospital, so the potential impact on some of the most vulnerable in our community should not be underestimated.
“Mr Ewing and Mr Wheelhouse took on board the points made, including the importance of transport links supporting the supply chain. They offered to keep parliamentarians informed and I will certainly be keen to see what progress the government is able to make going forward.”