Comhairle leaders hold talks with UK Government

Council Leaders from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are holding high level discussions with the UK Government this week on the Our Islands Our Future campaign.

Three days of talks got underway this morning (Monday) at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael MP.

Later this year, UK Government and Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar hope to sign a Concordat incorporating the Government’s response to the issues raised in the campaign.

Through Our Islands Our Future, the Councils are seeking a further devolution of powers to the three island areas to enable more decision making at a local level.

Among key areas under discussion this week are energy, better representation in Europe, the powers of the Crown Estate, and “island proofing” – pro-active consideration of the special requirements of island communities during policy development by Government.

Meetings will also take place with Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey MP, Advocate General for Scotland Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, Minister for Europe David Lidington MP, as well as with other senior politicians and Government officials.

Speaking on behalf of the three local authorities, Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle said: “This visit follows two days of highly productive talks at Westminster last October.

“Our Islands Our Future has made considerable progress since then, so this is an excellent opportunity to discuss areas at the heart of the campaign in detail ahead of the publication of the Concordat this summer.”

Representing the three Island Councils are Councillor Heddle, Councillor Gary Robinson, Leader of Shetland Islands Council, Councillor Norman A Macdonald, Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Malcolm Burr and Mark Boden, Chief Executives of the Councils in the Western Islands and Shetland, and Gillian Morrison, Executive Director of Corporate Services with Orkney Islands Council.