MSP praises ru­ral pledges in SNP plans

The Oban Times - - News - STEVEN RAE srae@oban­times.co.uk

THE Scot­tish gov­ern­ment’s par­lia­men­tary pro­gramme as laid out by First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon re­cently will pro­vide a boost for the West High­lands.

That’s the view of SNP MSP, Mike Macken­zie, who has hailed the plan – which in­cludes poli­cies on ru­ral hous­ing, Crown Es­tate rev­enues and an Is­lands Bill – as a boon for the High­lands and Is­lands, the re­gion he rep­re­sents in Holy­rood.

The pro­gramme out­lines the leg­is­la­tion the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment will in­tro­duce be­tween now and the end of March, and also the key poli­cies it will pur­sue for the re­main­der of the par­lia­ment to sup­port the econ­omy, cre­ate a fairer so­ci­ety and im­prove public ser­vices.

Mr Macken­zie, who lives in Eas­dale, said: ‘This pro­gramme will bring sub­stan­tive ben­e­fits to com­mu­ni­ties across the High­lands and is­lands. For ex­am­ple, de­vo­lu­tion of the Crown Es­tate to Scot­land will be good for is­land com­mu­ni­ties.

‘I am also de­lighted to welcome the es­tab­lish­ment of a ded­i­cated ru­ral hous­ing fund. Lack of af­ford­able hous­ing in ru­ral ar­eas is a blight which must be tack­led in or­der to re­verse dam­ag­ing trends such as de­pop­u­la­tion and the dam­ag­ing eco­nomic and so­cial im­pact across the High­lands and is­lands.’

He added: ‘ The Is­lands Bill - which is set to be in­tro­duced to par­lia­ment - is a pro­ject I am par­tic­u­larly pleased to watch come to fruition.

‘As an is­lan­der my­self, I worked closely with the min­is­ter, Derek Mackay, on bring­ing to­gether a bill in­tended to ‘is­land proof’ fu­ture leg­is­la­tion – in other words – to en­sure the unique and var­ied in­ter­ests of our many is­lands are al­ways given the pri­or­ity and con­sid­er­a­tion they de­serve from law­mak­ers.

‘Another ma­jor fo­cus of the bill is to de­volve as much power to the is­lands as is work­able, on the ba­sis that peo­ple who live in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are in the best po­si­tion to take de­ci­sions about those com­mu­ni­ties.’

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