COMHAIRLE nan Eilean Siar will petition the Scottish Government to reverse a decision to close a programme which has delivered over £1billion of European funding throughout the Highlands and Islands.
From April 1st the undertakings of the Highlands and Islands Partnership Programme (HIPP) will be moved ‘in-house’ to the Scottish Government in Edinburgh – a shift which has caused concern for the local authority amid fears the Western Isles may be left fighting for future funds.
An emergency motion passed by the council’s policy and resource committee reveals that the Comhairle will question the manner in which the decision to dissolve HIPP had been taken without consultation with stakeholders. And in expressing concerns to both the Scottish and UK governments the authority are seeking a U-turn on the contentious move.
The council have also called on Western Isles MSP Dr Alasdair Allan to lobby on behalf of his island constituency; and are looking to work with partners to ensure that a Highlands and Islands Strategy will highlight a strong ‘islands dimension’ to raise the profile of the region within EU funding and policy in order to gain the maximum benefit from future European funding programmes.
More updates on this story will be available on the Stornoway Gazette website and in next week’s newspaper.