His­toric bill will meet unique needs of Scot­land’s is­lands

The Oban Times - - News -

‘GAME- CHANGER’ leg­is­la­tion for is­land com­mu­ni­ties has been an­nounced at an ‘ex­cep­tional’ com­mu­nity-run fa­cil­ity, writes Louise Glen.

On Mon­day (June 12) Is­lands min­is­ter Humza Yousaf MSP chose Tober­mory’s Har­bour As­so­ci­a­tion (THA) to make the ‘ most sig­nif­i­cant an­nounce­ment’ for is­land com­mu­ni­ties in decades.

Mr Yousaf re­vealed the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Is­lands Bill, a strate­gic piece of leg­is­la­tion that will ‘is­land-proof’ all laws and pub­lic body stan­dards for ar­eas such as trans­port, travel, busi­ness, econ­omy and health care.

Ad­dress­ing board mem­bers of the THA, Mr Yousaf said: ‘We are in­tro­duc­ing the Is­lands Bill to en­sure the is­lands of Scot­land are con­sid­ered in the in­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion.

‘It will, of course, have to make its way through the com­mit­tee and par­lia­men­tary process, but it will be a game- changer for the is­lands. But this is a cross-party ap­proach.’

Mea­sures in the bill will in­clude a re­quire­ment to ‘is­land-proof’ fu­ture leg­is­la­tion and poli­cies, the cre­ation of a Na­tional Is­lands Plan, statu­tory pro­tec­tion for the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scot­tish par­lia­men­tary con­stituency bound­ary, greater flex­i­bil­ity around coun­cil­lor rep­re­sen­ta­tion within is­land com­mu­ni­ties and ex­tended pow­ers to is­land coun­cils in re­la­tion to ma­rine li­cens­ing.

Mr Yousaf con­tin­ued: ‘ This gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing is­lands’ voices, to har­ness­ing is­lands’ re­sources and en­hanc­ing their well­be­ing. The mea­sures in this bill un­der­pin this am­bi­tion.

‘In par­tic­u­lar, the pro­vi­sion to is­land-proof de­ci­sion-mak­ing across the pub­lic sec­tor will en­sure the in­ter­ests of is­landers are re­flected in fu­ture leg­is­la­tion and pol­icy from the very out­set.

‘The Na­tional Is­lands Plan will set out the strate­gic di­rec­tion for sup­port­ing is­land com­mu­ni­ties, con­tin­u­ing the mo­men­tum gen­er­ated by the Our Is­lands, Our Fu­ture cam­paign and the work of the Is­lands Strate­gic Group.

‘This is the first bill for Scot­land’s is­lands, mark­ing a his­toric mile­stone for our is­land com­mu­ni­ties. I am proud and priv­i­leged as is­lands min­is­ter to be guid­ing the bill through Scot­land’s Par­lia­ment.’

Coun­cil­lor Robin Cur­rie, Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s spokesman for is­lands, added: ‘The in­tro­duc­tion of the bill is wel­come news.

‘Ar­gyll and Bute has 23 in­hab­ited is­lands, each with its own dis­tinct iden­tity.

‘ We have been work­ing to iden­tify and ad­dress is­sues which af­fect them and take for­ward ini­tia­tives to at­tract peo­ple to the area and boost the lo­cal econ­omy.

‘ We also joined forces with col­leagues from the other is­land coun­cils to work to­gether for the ben­e­fit of all the is­land com­mu­ni­ties we rep­re­sent.

‘The pro­vi­sions of the bill ac­knowl­edge the unique needs of our is­lands and pro­vide the sup­port mech­a­nism to fa­cil­i­tate fur­ther em­pow­er­ment, help them pros­per and grow. We will en­gage with our is­land com­mu­ni­ties and stake­hold­ers to al­low us to have an in­put to the bill.’

Is­lands min­is­ter Humza Yousaf, left, met mem­bers of Tober­mory Har­bour As­so­ci­a­tion this week.

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