Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today called on the First Minister to develop a new islands plan and put an end to the Scottish Government “overpromising and underdelivering” for Orkney and other island communities.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, Mr McArthur highlighted criticisms of the government’s National Islands Plan from Orkney Islands Council, which argued earlier this week that “little to no progress” has been made on the Plan’s 13 objectives and over 100 commitments. The Council was particularly critical of the failure of Scottish Ministers to address inconsistencies in island authority funding and the need for urgent improvements in lifeline ferry links.
In his response, First Minister Humza Yousaf rejected calls for a more tightly focused Plan and claimed the Scottish Government has “invested significantly in … island communities” and that his government has made “significant” funding commitments for inter-island ferry services.
Speaking after FMQs, Mr McArthur said:
“The First Minister seems to be in denial about his government’s track record in delivering for our islands. While the National Islands Plan is full of good intentions, progress towards achieving any of these has been slow to non-existent.
“There is a strong argument for a more targeted approach by Scottish Ministers focussing on delivery. In an Orkney context, this would include delivering a fairer funding settlement across the three island authorities and making meaningful progress in procuring new vessels to operate our internal ferry routes.
“Whether or not the Islands Plan needs to be scrapped remains to be seen. What is not in any doubt is the need for the Scottish Government to stop overpromising and underdelivering for Orkney and other island communities.”