Comhairle Leader, Roddie Mackay, has written to Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, welcoming the establishment of an Islands Forum to help level-up island communities. This follows Mr Gove’s visit to the Western Isles last summer for discussion with the Comhairle Leader on connectivity and levelling up.
In his letter, Mr Mackay states: “I write to warmly welcome the announcement that the UK Government is to establish an Islands Forum to help level-up island communities. This is a welcome initiative that I hope will allow island communities to closely collaborate with the UK Government and with islands across the United Kingdom to tackle challenges and deliver new investment opportunities.
“I hope that the Forum is action-orientated and focused on delivering new solutions and new investment for island communities. I appreciate that a policy development component would be useful, but the Forum should avoid becoming another "talking shop" and instead strive to deliver real benefits and real solutions for island communities.
“Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as the Local Authority responsible for an archipelago of islands with the largest island population base in the United Kingdom has much experience and knowledge of the very particular issues, challenges and opportunities that face island communities. I therefore believe that the Comhairle will have much to offer the new Forum and I look forward to participating in and making a positive contribution to the work of the Forum when it is established.
Mr Mackay concluded: “The Comhairle would also be happy to host the inaugural meeting of the Forum if that was thought appropriate. I think Forum representatives would appreciate the opportunity to meet within an island context. My officials would be happy to work with the UK Government to facilitate a first-class initial Forum meeting.”