The Remote Towers controversy has highlighted the lack of local representation on public bodies. These organisations make decisions which directly affect the lives of islanders.
Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd for example have a Board of Directors none of whom live in the islands.
A petition has been raised which hopes to go to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee if it gets enough support. The islanders from Uist who raised the petition believe that Boards like HIAL should have to include representation from the places they provide lifeline services to.
The petitioners state:
“We believe this change will empower our communities based on a cohesive, place-based and holistic approach to policy.
“It will build economic, social and environmental considerations in an integrated approach to strategy for the infrastructure and services that support our lifeline services.
“We believe that local knowledge should be viewed as an essential skill for the Boards of organisations accountable to the Scottish Government.
“Such knowledge would bring an appreciation and understanding of local community needs relevant to the service which is being delivered. In particular, we believe that local knowledge will bring insight to boards into economic and infrastructure development, local investment and planning, employment, housing, education and health and social care and how these relate to the service the public organisation provides.”
The Petition can be viewed here: Public Petition PE01862 ‘Introduce community representation on boards of public organisations delivering lifeline services to islands communities.’
The Islands Plan which came about as a result of the passing of the Islands Act was supposed to deliver more real powers to Scotland’s islands. To make any real difference in how major public bodies, such as HIAL, respond to the needs of islanders it is essential that Boards include effective local representatives. It is bizarre that major decisions can take place without that condition being met.
To view more details and/or to sign the petition please click here: PE01862: Introduce community representation on boards of public organisations delivering lifeline services to island communities
Closing Date for Online Petition: 24 March 2021