Highlands and Islands MSP Mike MacKenzie says that Bute’s campaign to be moved forward from the back of the RET ferry fares queue has “more merit than some” - but there’s no sign yet that the Scottish Government might be ready to re-think its position on the matter.
Mr MacKenzie has been lobbied by several island residents and businesses on the subject following his visit to Rothesay at the end of May for The Buteman’s independence referendum debate.
He has since discussed the subject of RET - and in particular the widespread concern at the implications of a trial scheme being introduced on Arran’s ferries a full 12 months before the scheme comes to Bute - with transport minister Keith Brown, and has now provided The Buteman with the following statement on the subject.
“The region I represent, the Highlands and Islands, is home to the overwhelming majority of Scotland’s islands,” Mr MacKenzie says, “and over the last three years many island communities have presented me with cases indicating why they should be at the front of the queue in the roll out of RET.
“The case that Bute has made has, I believe, more merit than some of the others and I will continue to press the Transport Minister to recognise this case.
“However, it should not be forgotten that RET is the most significant improvement in our ferry services that we have seen for many generations and that the Scottish Government is honouring it’s Manifesto commitment to roll out RET across all the CalMac routes within the term of this Parliament.
“That is a very significant achievement especially against the background of the harsh cuts to our budget being imposed by the Westminster Government.
“Taken together with the ‘Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities’ document published last week, which commits to devolving one hundred per cent of Crown Estate revenues to island communities, the appointment of an Islands Minister and to bring forward an Islands Act, which will include a legislative commitment to ‘island proof’ future policy, Scotland’s islands are set for a successful and more prosperous future.
“Some of these proposals are dependent on a Yes vote in September’s referendum as quite obviously we cannot give away what we don’t have. I am increasingly confident that Scotland’s people will deliver a Yes vote and as an islander myself I am proud that this SNP Government is delivering very real improvements for our island communities.”