The Uist Economic Taskforce Working Group met on Friday 11th May in Benbecula.
The meeting was addressed by Mr Áki Johansen, the Head of Representation of the Faroese Government in the United Kingdom. Mr Johansen stimulated a wide-ranging discussion that touched on key issues such as digital connectivity, transport strategy, population retention and economic development policy in the Faroe Islands.
The meeting also saw a presentation from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) updating on the Affordable Housing Supply Programme and the prospects for new affordable housing activity in Uist Speaking after the meeting, Chairman of the Uist Economic Taskforce Working Group, Cllr. Iain A. MacNeil said, "I was really pleased that Mr Johansen attended the Taskforce meeting today. The Faroes and the Outer Hebrides are close neighbours with a common maritime boundary. As island communities we share many of the same challenges and opportunities and it was extremely though-provoking to hear about the ways the Faroese Government have stimulated new economic growth and have supported population retention."
"I was particularly interested to hear about the Faroese approach to transport infrastructure and how that have managed to deliver 4G connectivity to every corner of their islands. Their approach to infrastructure, such as tunnels, and how they fund that infrastructure is something we should learn from here in Uist. I also think that the culture and mind set change they achieved in some of their communities to identify new opportunities is commendable and something we should aspire to. I hope we see future collaboration between Uist and Faroe and I will now be seeking to explore new links between our island communities. "
"It was also useful to get an overview of housing opportunities in Uist for the next period. Housing has been identified as one of the critical areas of focus for the Taskforce and I was therefore pleased to see the level of feasibility studies presently being undertaken in Uist. It will be essential that these studies translate rapidly into new build."
"I impressed on HHP and Comhairle officials the need for speed and rapid delivery. This is a topic that I will be looking for updates on at each meeting of the Taskforce."