Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed the announcement today that the Scottish Government’s proposed “Islands Bond” scheme would be scrapped following widespread opposition from local communities. The proposal would have given cash incentives for individuals and families to move to Scottish island communities and was announced by the SNP during the Holyrood elections last year.
Mr Carmichael said that the proposals had been a “distraction” from real island issues of infrastructure and opportunity, and that ministers should give up on the “Central Belt” approach to island policy and give the pen to islanders themselves.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Not for the first time, the SNP took the view that ‘the Central Belt knows best’ when it comes to deciding how to fight depopulation in the Scottish islands. That approach has never worked because only the people in the isles can really understand what is needed to keep isles communities strong for the decades to come.
“The islands bond scheme was always a distraction from what was really required to support isles communities. We have no need of kickbacks to make families come here – what we need is infrastructure and opportunities so that people come here and stay here of their own accord.
“Forget going back to the drawing board – Scottish ministers need to take the drawing board to the isles and hand over the pen. Answers to the future of island communities will not be found in Bute House but in Bute, Uist and Unst. If the Islands Minister is serious about this rethink then the first step must be to let people in the islands take the lead from now on.”