Our hopeful council candidates answer the question in the paper this week ‘How can the council support current and new industry in the islands’.
The answers show some promise, but feel sadly lacking in any exciting concepts. Most concentrate on the achievements already attained, or campaigns to persuade more Government support on RET and ADS concessions already being fought, but some of the candidates do point to the renewables industry or tourism being our saviours – both likely knights in shining armour for the region’s prosperity.
Looking at candidates’ ideas about the future of the economy we need to realise that tourists crave entertainment and plenty of it, and if we can’t or won’t deliver then we will never draw the numbers that can make a difference.
Perhaps we can use the money available to support tourist-based attractions and to aggressively market the region and its attractions in a national and world-wide advertising campaign – would that be such a bizarre or unattainable strategy?
If large scale renewables do bring a treasure chest of funding shouldn’t that money be exclusively used to bolster businesses through lowering haulage fees, transport costs, tax burdens, energy costs, employee costs, as well as investing in training in key areas?
Our islands are slowly dying and the economy is at the heart of that demise – a strong economy would mean more and better paid jobs (not dependent on the public sector). This would lead to more people staying, or choosing to live in the islands and driving the demand for good services – better, faster and cheaper transport links, more schools (perhaps even a Gaelic Medium Secondary), more and cheaper buses, a better range of shops, more lifestyle and leisure facilities. The list that a thriving economy could deliver is endless - we have heard what the candidates think - now tell us what you think.