Island councils seek assurances from new government over more powers
Orkney, Shetland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are requesting an early meeting with Mundell
Scotland’s three island councils have requested early meetings with the new Secretary of State for Scotland to seek reassurances on the commitments of the previous Government on the campaign for more powers for their areas.
Orkney, Shetland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar launched the Our Islands Our Future (OIOF) campaign in June 2013 and while previous agreements were made with the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, the three councils expect commitments to be honoured by the new Conservative government.
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, said: “We welcome the appointment of David Mundell as Secretary of State for Scotland, having worked productively with him in the past, and look forward to doing so in the future.
“We did the groundwork previously with the UK Government and although there has been a change in Government we would expect them to continue along similar lines with regard to Our Islands Our Future.
Prime Minister David Cameron used his first speech in the General Election aftermath to reaffirm his commitment to the recommendations of Smith Commission on further devolution to Scotland, and Mundell told BBC Scotland on Tuesday that the proposals were the "right package" for the country.
Campbell welcomed the commitment.
“From the Islands point of view that is important as one of the key recommendations is the transfer of revenues and management of the Crown Estate to the Scottish Government and, as agreed by Scottish Government, onwards to local coastal communities, one of the key aims of the OIOF campaign,” he said.
However, Campbell also said there was scope for further powers for the islands.
“Hopefully there may be additional powers for Scotland as argued for by the islands councils in their submission to the Smith Commission.”
The local authorities have said they are continuing to meet with the Scottish Government on a regular basis to discuss OIOF, but so far Cameron has given no indication there will be any powers devolved beyond what is laid out in the Smith recommendations.
Campbell added: “Whilst we recognise that some of the faces we will now be meeting at a UK Government level will have changed, many of the key players, including ministers and senior civil servants, will be the same and they are well acquainted with OIOF and the wishes of Island Councils and communities.”
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