Committee agrees SNP Government must now deliver fair ferry funding

Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have today welcomed unanimous calls by a cross-party parliamentary committee for the Scottish Government to deliver fair ferry funding in their budget.

The recommendation comes following the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s scrutiny of the Draft Budget.  In their report, published this morning, the committee has called on the Scottish Government to “treat this matter as a priority and to satisfactorily resolve it by the conclusion of the current consideration of the draft budget.”

Mr McArthur and Mr Scott said the committee had done “the right thing by island communities” and urged the Scottish Government now to do the same.

The report is the latest chapter in the bid to deliver fair funding for internal ferry services in Orkney and Shetland. It follows the debate last month, led by Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur, which saw Parliament give its support to calls for the Scottish Government to honour its repeated promises to provide fair funding for these lifeline ferry services in the Northern Isles.

Following publication of the report, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:

“Internal ferry services in Orkney and Shetland provide a genuine lifeline upon which some of the most fragile communities in the country are entirely dependent. It simply isn’t acceptable that these services continues to be put at risk due to a failure by the government to honour its promises over fair funding.

“We therefore welcome this latest intervention from the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. MSPs from all parties on this Committee have recognised the urgency of getting this particular issue resolved as soon as possible. There can be no credible talk of ‘Island proofing’ or a fair deal for our island communities without fair funding of the internal ferry services upon which they rely.”

The Northern Isles MSPs added:

“We urge the Finance Secretary to act and act quickly. This report shows that he is increasingly isolated as even his own backbench MSPs on the Committee have said enough is enough and it is time to get on with delivering the promises he has made.  

“It is particularly helpful that the Committee has been so explicit about the timetable, insisting that this must be delivered before the conclusion of the current budget process. With industrial action already underway on services within Orkney, this recognition of the urgency is timely and very welcome. The Finance Secretary must now respond. There are no excuses left.”

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