Hopes for an annnouncement in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement of an ‘Islands Deal’ – bringing significant economic investment and job creation to the Western Isles and Scotland’s other island groups – are growing as plans for a Holyrood reception to boost the Deal are revealed.
Western Isles MSP, Dr Alasdair Allan, and the Comhairle, have separately confirmed this week that a reception will be held in The Scottish Parliament at the end of February, with Scottish Government, UK Government, the Island Councils and other island stakeholders attending.
In Westminster, Western Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil, has also confirmed that he has recently made representations to UK Treasury Minister, Robert Jenrick MP, to meet with him and representatives of Western Isles council to progress talks on the deal, but a date for a meeting has not yet been fixed.
In a statement, a Comhairle spokesperson said: “The Comhairle would always like to see as early an announcement of an Islands Growth Deal as possible, but the announcement of an Islands Deal was not anticipated in the Autumn budget.
“We hope, and indeed expect, a positive statement from UK Government in the Spring Budget Statement.
“The Reception at Holyrood in February will bring our proposals for an Islands Deal to the attention of all MSPs, and there is much positive engagement with both Scottish and UK Government, at official and Ministerial level.
“We are hoping that Treasury Ministers will confirm a meeting with Islands’ representatives, through Angus MacNeil MP, shortly, but with the current focus on Brexit, it is possible that this date will slip.
“The job of the Comhairle at the moment is to ensure that the Islands Growth Deal is on every table and agenda it should be, and we believe that it is, and that an announcement of a Growth Deal of the Islands will be made later this year.”
HM Treasury were approached for comment but none was received at the time of going to press.