Highland Council Leader welcomes further devolution and protection of island communities

Leader of the Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson commented on Islands Minister Derek Mackay’s statement (yesterday) during a consultation on further devolution and protection of the islands. 

She said: “I was pleased to hear the commitments given by Mr Mackay to island communities and I am sure this will be warmly welcomed by our colleagues in island authorities.

“We are sure that the Scottish Government will extend the principle of equality and empowerment and devolved decision making to other rural and island communities in the Highlands and similar rural authorities. We have a very distinctive geography and culture in the Highlands, covering a vast and rugged geographical area, with some 4,412km of coastline, 1,493 islands and diverse, remote and rural communities.

“It is fair that these communities are afforded the same equality and empowerment as other remote and rural island communities. As a local authority, we have embraced the new Community Empowerment Act and will be working to deliver more local decision-making across our Highland communities.

“We do however need the support and the will of the Scottish Government to devolve more powers and subsidiarity to Local Authorities to enable us to embody these principles in the delivery of our local services. We also need protection by rural-proofing policies and decisions.

“Real devolution of power would mean we can set council taxes and reshape our education services to meet our specific needs. Currently we have these powers but are restricted by penalties from doing the things we need to do to deliver the best services and value for money.

“We also need constituency and ward boundaries that take account of our vast geography.

“Highland has a proud and vibrant culture and has much to contribute to Scotland as a whole and we need the powers to enable us to grow our economy and potential.”

She concluded: “I would welcome Derek Mackay to visit us in the Highlands and listen to the views of communities here as part of his consultation.”

1 Oct 2015
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