Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar launched the party’s recovery plan for the Highlands and Islands yesterday, including support for young people, tourism and investment in ferries.
Speaking at an event in Inverness, Mr Sarwar said Scottish Labour would eradicating fuel poverty by 2032 and devolve more powers to local communities.
“For many communities in the Highlands and Islands the pandemic exposed the challenges they have long faced,” he said.
“From poor digital connectivity to isolation to barriers in healthcare access, the difficulties posed by the pandemic are by no means new to communities in the Highlands and Islands.
“Likewise, when the economic impact is felt, it is fragile rural economies which will feel it most. The sectors hit hardest by Covid, such as hospitality and tourism, are the backbone of the rural economy, while Brexit has wreaked havoc with business for fisheries and food producers.
“The Highlands and Islands cannot afford another five years of bickering about the same old arguments. The next parliament needs to be focused on rebuilding your economy and your communities after Covid.
“This weekend I launched Scottish Labour’s Recovery Plan for the Highlands and Islands, which sets out our plans to rebuild and empower the region. I am determined that Scottish Labour will be a voice for the whole of Scotland – fighting to ensure communities have not only the resources but the powers they need to recover from the pandemic.
“Use your second vote to vote for Scottish Labour and we will fight to keep the focus on the issues that matter to people in the Highlands and Islands.”
The recovery plan includes details on:
Introducing a jobs and training guarantee for young people;
Delivering a support package for hospitality, retail and tourism businesses;
A Great Scottish Staycation Scheme to promote Scottish tourism with a ‘third night free’ subsidy;
Committing to eradicating fuel poverty by 2032;
Appointing a Rural Health Commissioner;
Investing in Scotland’s ferry fleet;
Increasing funding for the Scottish Land Fund to encourage community ownership;
Devolving powers from Edinburgh to local communities.