Northern Isles MSPs, Liam McArthur and Beatrice Wishart, have today (Tuesday) called out the lack "meaningful island-proofing" to the Scottish Government's Covid Recovery Strategy paper.
The strategy paper outlines the Scottish Government's ambition and aims for Scotland's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the strategy paper only gives reference to island communities once.
Following the Scottish Election in May, Mr McArthur and Ms Wishart wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, John Swinney, calling for the islands to be “front and centre of Scottish Government thinking”.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
"Throughout the pandemic, there has been a frustration in island communities that their needs have appeared to be an afterthought in Scottish Government decision making at various points.
"As we look ahead, however, it is all the more important that any work to build a fair and sustainable recovery fully reflects the islands dimension. It is therefore disappointing that the government’s recovery strategy shows little recognition of the need for meaningful island-proofing.
"A re-hashed commitment to affordable housing that is already delayed, much like the rollout of superfast broadband, is thin gruel. It reinforces the impression that there is a serious ‘mismatch’ between the SNP government’s record on policy and delivery.
"By contrast, Scottish Liberal Democrats have proposed a Highlands and Islands Just Transition Commission to ensure any recovery is shaped by island needs and aspirations."
Ms Wishart added:
"The islands have faced unique challenges during the Covid-19 crisis. We should see some bespoke solutions to help mitigate these challenges as we recover.
“All we have instead is commitments long past their original deadline. Reheating old, unfulfilled promises is simply running out of road.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want empowered communities that can make the decisions needed to benefit local people. Not a reheated - one size fits all."