MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott will use a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday to demand cheaper ferry fares for the Northern Isles.
With one eye on the forthcoming Islands Bill, the Scottish Parliament will debate a motion “Supporting and Strengthening our Island Communities” this Thursday afternoon.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs are expected to argue that the “the centralisation of key public services has reduced local accountability to island communities”.
The amendment lodged by Mr McArthur and Mr Scott will also call on the Scottish Government to bring an immediate end to Orkney and Shetland’s exclusion from the government’s cheap ferry fares scheme and a cut in fares in line with reductions introduced on the west coast routes.
Commenting ahead of the debate, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“Centralisation of public services and decision-making by the current Scottish government has been relentless over recent years. Ministers have stripped power from local communities, limiting their ability to shape and determine their own future.
“The promise now is for a bill that will allow future legislation and decisions to be ‘island proofed.’ It remains to be seen whether or not this will have any effect in practice. After all, Ministers continue to talk the language of centralisation in their plans for health boards, economic development and even education. This suggests an end to the one-size-fits-all approach is some way off and that the specific interests of islands communities are unlikely to be met.
“An early test of how serious the government is would be for Ministers to address Orkney and Shetland’s continued exclusion from the Scottish Government’s cheap ferry fares scheme. Urgent action was promised by the First Minister ahead of the election in May. We now need to see that promise delivered and an end to the unfair treatment of the Northern Isles.”