Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed Nicola Sturgeon’s freshly announced Programme for Government in the coming year, saying that it sets out an ambitious agenda for the Western Isles and Scotland as a whole.
Alasdair Allan drew attention to a number of plans of particular importance to people in the islands:
Commitment to deliver superfast broadband to 100% of residential and business premises by 2021.
The Scottish Government will seek repatriation of the EU’s full CAP convergence funds of £190 million. Should the Scottish Government succeed, it will seek an increase in the CAP payment rate to active hill and upland farmers and crofters.
There is also a commitment to press for full devolution of the fish levy to generate additional revenue of £2 million to promote and market Scotland’s quality fish and seafood.
The First Minister announced the Government’s plans to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank to support economic growth and business research and development.
There is a commitment to expand apprenticeship opportunities, and to provide full, non-repayable bursaries to care-experienced young people awarded a place at university.
Detailed plans will be set out to massively expand the number of electric charging points in rural settings.
There will also be a new bottle deposit scheme, to help reduce litter in the islands, and provide further protection for our environment.
There will also be the protection of the frontline police budget, and a new criminal offence of drug driving.
The Government plans to establish a new ‘Tackling Child Poverty’ Fund, which will be worth £50m over the next 5 years.
And the full implementation of “Frank’s Law” to provide free personal care to those who need it, whether they are above or below the age of 65.
The Scottish Government will consider the creation of Single Island Authorities and will devolve power into community hands - to empower islanders to make the decisions that affect their lives.
Commenting, Dr Allan said: “The First Minister unveiled a bold and ambitious plan for Scotland. The Programme for Scotland sets out a plan to shape the kind of country we all seek.
“The SNP is proud of all that we have achieved in the last decade in Government, but it is time to refocus our efforts and refresh our agenda to meet the changing needs of our people and the unprecedented challenges of our times.
“The Programme for Government will bring about some of the important changes we need in the Western Isles to boost our economy, and improve local services.”