Local government minister to visit Bute

Bute will be visited by Scotland's local government minister Derek Mackay MSP on Tuesday, May 20.
Bute will be visited by Scotland's local government minister Derek Mackay MSP on Tuesday, May 20.

Proposals to give more powers to island communities will be discussed further when Scotland’s local government minister Derek Mackay visits Bute this week.

Mr Mackay will meet Bute councillor and Argyll and Bute provost Len Scoullar, who chairs a council working group on island issues, together with council leader Dick Walsh and chief executive Sally Loudon, on Tuesday.

Opportunities to increase local autonomy and improve island services will be discussed following talks earlier this year with representatives from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles on giving greater powers to island-only authorities.

Following his meeting on Bute, Mr Mackay will also visit islands in the Highlands and North Ayrshire to continue engagement with councillors there.

Discussions have included Crown Estate functions, renewable energy, transport, island proofing measures and a range of other matters important to Scotland’s islands.

Ahead of his meeting with Argyll and Bute Council, Mr Mackay said: “It’s crucial that all of Scotland’s island communities have their say on how decisions are made for them.

“That’s why I am keen to meet with Argyll and Bute Council’s islands working group and to visit North Ayrshire and the Highlands, to hear further views from mainland councils who have islands in their areas.

“This is important to complement the progress being made at the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group, so that we have the fullest possible view of island opportunities.

“We made a commitment to councils with islands in their areas that we would consider how the emerging proposals from that Group could apply to them and I am looking forward to these discussions.

“In the Lerwick Declaration we affirmed our commitment to subsidiarity and to local decision making and this is a further step toward an agreement on a prospectus for Scotland’s islands and an Islands Act following independence.”

Mr Mackay chairs the Scottish Government’s Island Areas Ministerial Working Group, which comprises the leaders and chief executives of Orkney, Shetland and Eilean Siar (Western Isles) and the minister for environment and climate change, Paul Wheelhouse.

That group was formed following the ‘Lerwick Declaration’, made in Shetland last July by the First Minister, affirming the Scottish Government’s commitment to the principles of local decision-making and subsidiarity.