Coun­cil de­fends po­si­tion on is­land proof­ing

The Oban Times - - News -

COUN­CIL lead­ers say they are not be­ing left out of ma­jor talks to fu­ture proof is­land com­mu­ni­ties – yet Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil, with 23 in­hab­ited is­lands, does not have a seat at the ta­ble.

The Is­land Ar­eas Min­is­te­rial Work­ing Group in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment has mem­bers from Orkney, Shet­land and the Western Isles, but Ar­gyll and Bute and North Ayr­shire have not been in­vited to join.

Pol­icy Lead for Is­land Af­fairs, and chair­man of Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s is­lands task force, Provost Len Scoullar, de­fended the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­cil, say­ing: ‘Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil is tak­ing pos­i­tive ac­tion to sup­port our is­land com­mu­ni­ties and to work with other is­land author­i­ties and the Scot­tish Is­lands Fed­er­a­tion (SIF) to make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able.

‘We have al­ready had a very pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tion with Derek Mackay MSP, the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for is­lands, who in­di­cated that he would be work­ing to en­sure all is­lands were treated in the same way.

‘ We have in­vited the lead­ers of the three is­land coun­cils to a fu­ture meet­ing of our is­land task­force, as well as ex­plor­ing the op­por­tu­nity of col­lab­o­ra­tion on ar­eas of shared in­ter­est with North Ayr­shire and High­land coun­cils.

‘ We are also tak­ing steps to is­land-proof our Sin­gle Out­come Agree­ment, pro­mot­ing a pos­i­tive vi­sion for the fu­ture of our 23 in­hab­ited is­lands, as well as closely ex­am­in­ing all new leg­is­la­tion (Euro­pean Union, UK and Scot­tish govern­ments) that has rel­e­vance to and could have an im­pact on our is­lands.

‘A num­ber of ex­cit­ing in­fra­struc­ture projects have also pro­gressed, from the com­ple­tion of £1.1mil­lion of im­prove­ments at Iona Pier to the Fion­nphort Vil­lage to Com­mu­nity Hall link – a £100,000 project be­tween Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil and The Mull and Iona Com­mu­nity Trust to de­liver an off-road path link­ing the vil­lage with the lo­cal vil­lage hall.

‘Fund­ing this fi­nan­cial year will be spent on tak­ing for­ward de­tailed de­sign and land ne­go­ti­a­tion.

‘Th­ese are im­por­tant projects which sup­port our is­land com­mu­ni­ties, keep­ing them con­nected.

‘The coun­cil is com­mit­ted to help­ing our is­lands to re­alise their po­ten­tial.’

A spokesman for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said the three is­land coun­cils in­volved in the group would fu­ture proof all is­land com­mu­ni­ties.

He con­firmed that Is­lands Min­is­ter Derek Mackay MSP had com­mit­ted to de­liver com­mit­ments to all is­land com­mu­ni­ties.

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