Council defends position on island proofing
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.