Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP, has raised the concerns of constituents in Argyll & Bute as to the impact, upon their local council, of plans to devolve greater autonomy and decision-making powers to local authorities in Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles.
Jamie was speaking at yesterday's Topical Question Time in the Scottish Parliament, during a question on the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group. The Minister for Local Government, Derek Mackay, told Jamie that he was in contact with Argyll & Bute Council on the subject.
Commenting today, Jamie, who has already made written representations to the Minister on this issue, said:
“The Scottish Conservatives have consistently supported the devolution of more decision-making powers to a local level, and therefore I am positive about plans to give greater autonomy to the island authorities in my region. The SNP government has of course got the ability to do this right now, and should not hold this prospect out as a bribe to people in the event of independence.
“However, a number of constituents in Argyll & Bute, including some from islands like Islay and Mull, have expressed concern to me that extra autonomy for only these island authorities..." (Orkney, Shetland, and Western Isles) "...might place their council..." (Argyll & Bute) "...and their islands at a relative disadvantage. I will continue to urge Ministers to monitor this and to be ready to consider granting Argyll & Bute, with its many distinctive island communities, extra powers as well. I am also supportive of constituents on those Argyll islands who wish to see more decision-making powers being devolved to their islands within the current local government structure”.