Local News for Tuesday 13th June 2017
Islands Bill published at Holyrood
An historic bill has been introduced to Parliament to meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands now and in the future. The Islands (Scotland) Bill published yesterday includes measures to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies, to create a National Islands Plan and to protect the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary. Also suggested are measures to ensure more flexibility around Councillor representation in island communities and to extend the powers of island councils where marine licencing is concerned. Presenting the bill, Islands Minister Humza Yousaf said: “This government is committed to promoting islands’ voices, to harnessing islands’ resources and enhancing their well-being. 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 Bill’s been given a welcome by Western Isles politicians, with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Roddie MacKay, saying: "This is the most significant piece of legislation for islands since the Local Government reorganization in 1974 and the establishment of islands councils. It is a significant step forward against depopulation, one of the greatest threats to our Island way of life. One of the founding tenets of OIOF was that Scotland's islands are 'special' – this is formal Government recognition confirmation of that fact.” Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan endorsed the Bill, saying: "The publication of these measures shows that the Scottish Government is serious about bringing more powers direct to island communities and making sure that national laws are workable in an island context."