Isles business group formed after 14 year gap

Members of The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the Western Isles have this week formed their first Branch Committee since the year 2000.

The FSB is the UK’s foremost business organisation, for not only is it the largest, with around 200,000 members spread throughout the length and breadth of the country and around 100 in the Western Isles, but its size, evidence-based policy work and independence make it the country’s true voice of small business.

Norman MacDonald agreed to accept the position of Chairman to get the Committee off the ground.

The full Committee comprises:

Chairman Norman MacDonald, NL MacDonald Ltd;

Vice-Chairman 1 John MacLean, Lighting Electrical;

Vice Chairman 2 Iain Macmillan, Lews Castle College;

Secretary Alan MacDonald, NL MacDonald Ltd;

Treasurer Linda Johnson, Hebridean Guest House;

Committee Members:

Guy Adams, Isle of Barra Hotel;

Roddy Cunningham, Mann Judd Gordon Architects;

Patricia Martin, Scarista House;

Iain Morrison, Galson Motors Ltd.

Amanda Frazer, Chair of the Highlands & Islands Regional Committee, said: “I really am delighted that the Western Isles Branch Committee has been re-established after such a long gap and look forward to working with the new Chairman, Norman MacDonald, and his Committee. It is great news for small businesses in the Western Isles.

“Over 98% of Scotland’s 360,000 businesses have fewer than 50 employees and it is impossible for politicians and policy-makers to consult them individually when developing laws, rules and regulations that impact directly on their wellbeing. Moreover, when things go wrong, small independent businesses have no voice at all and this is where the FSB comes in.

“By joining the FSB businesses are combining their voices in one powerful organisation, an organisation that the leaders of all of Scotland’s main political parties respect and listen to because they know that our arguments are well-researched and that our independence means that we can be relied on to tell it as it is.

“While we know what our members think about key issues thanks to regular member surveys and individual case studies, it does not mean that we have a detailed understanding of the issues facing all members in all parts of the country and for some time now we have been concerned that there was no Branch Committee in the Western Isles. So last year we set the ball rolling once more to re-establish a Western Isles Branch Committee, a committee that would give more attention to the specific problems faced by businesses in the Isles and members a stronger voice locally with the Comhairle, HIE and others, and a stronger voice in the Scottish, UK and European Parliaments.”

“We will support Norman and his committee to achieve success in this area. We want the FSB to be a really strong business voice in the Western Isles.”

New Branch Committee Chairman, Norman MacDonald, said

“I will do all that I can to get it off the ground before passing the helm on to younger blood.

“Trying to get politicians to listen to anybody at the moment is quite difficult. However, they tend to listen to a concerted opinion from one strong organisation rather than to individuals giving their own opinions. What we have now with the formation of this new Committee is a concerted voice.

“One example of an issue that the Committee will no doubt wish to look at is how to encourage more tourists to visit the Western Isles when getting here and back is so difficult, what with expensive air fares and the problems of ferry capacity, frequency of sailings and reliability.”

“We will seek to work with other interested parties like the Outer Hebrides Tourist Industry Association and the Outer Hebrides Commerce Group to encourage the Scottish Government and the operators of key life-line services to give the Western Isles and its business community the level of service that they need and deserve.“