The Minister for Transport Keith Brown has said he is “delighted that the Barra Youth Council are working collectively to lobby” as they prepare to present a petition on Wi-Fi for ferries to the Public Petitions Committee in Stornoway later this month.
The Youth Council from the Southern Isles have been campaigning for several years to get Wi-Fi installed on long distant ferry routes that service the Western Isles and last year successfully secured a pilot scheme for the Lord of the Isles, which travels between Oban – Castlebay/Lochboisdale.
During their time campaigning they have had a face to face meeting with Mr Brown as well as representatives from CalMac, the Transport Committee and local MSP Alasdair Allan and have received letters of support from the Community Planning Partnership.
They now plan to head for Stornoway on March 15th to take part in the Scottish Parliament Day and present their petition to the Public Petition Committee which is chaired by Highlands and Island MP David Stewart.
Commenting on the groups achievements Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “I was delighted to meet with representatives of the Barra Youth Council to discuss this issue on a visit there last year.
“I would always encourage young people to actively engage in matters that affect them and I’m delighted that the Barra Youth Council are working collectively to lobby on matters that will deliver better services for their communities.
“Broadband should not be considered a luxury in rural areas or remote communities. Indeed, delivering Wi-Fi on ferry services will only help to enhance the quality of life and stimulate the growth of local economies.
“There are not surprisingly some particularly challenging technical hurdles to overcome to deliver Wi-Fi on ferries, but CalMac are making good progress as they work through the problems with a number of trials now complete and the procurement to deliver the technology under way.”
The Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership has also leant its supporting Barra Youth Council’s petition.
Chair of the Partnership Angus Campbell said: “It is good to see our young people getting involved in the democratic process. The Community Planning Partnership discussed the petition at its last meeting and agreed that we should support the move by the young people of Barra.”
He added: I wish them every success with their petition and would urge people throughout the Western Isles to sign up – and do so before the deadline of 4pm today (Friday 8th).”