The SNP government is proud to champion all our island communities. As Scotland’s Minister for the Islands – the first ever – I’ve worked closely with island authorities to give them a stronger voice, and more control over local decisions. But we want to go much further.
Kicking off the first of two days of campaigning in the Northern Isles, Nicola Sturgeon has today launched the SNP’s manifesto for the Islands.
Here are our ten key pledges to keep all our islands – and Scotland – moving forward:
- Give Island communities a stronger voice with a new Islands Bill, and continue the Islands Working Group
- Develop a National Islands Plan to ensure our islands fulfill their economic potential
- Maintain the Air Discount Scheme at 50 per cent; invest in quality ferry services; keep ferry fares as low as possible, and provide concessionary travel for our older people
- Superfast broadband will be extended to all premises by 2021, and island businesses will benefit from the Small Business Bonus too.
- Record investment in our NHS, supporting health care across our islands with more health care in the community
- Free childcare doubled and action to improve attainment in our schools
- Ensure Winter Fuel Payments, which are being devolved to Holyrood, will be paid early to people who are “off-grid” – making a huge difference to older people in remote areas
- £5 million investment to support island and Rural produce
- Support the energy industry on the islands and push the UK Government to deliver the connections that are needed
- We will ensure island communities receive revenues from Crown Estate assets around their shores and have a greater say in how the assets of the Crown Estate are managed.
Derek Mackay is Minister for Transport and Islands