Council reiterates vital need for fairer ferries funding
Orkney Islands Councillors have been meeting with the county’s constituency MSP Liam McArthur, to reiterate the risk to the local community should a fairer funding formula for Orkney’s internal ferries be left out of the Scottish Government’s budget.
Following the latest of a series of meetings with political leaders, Leader of Orkney Islands Council, James Stockan, said: “We have been reiterating to our elected representatives the seriousness of the situation with regards to the current arrangements for funding Orkney’s internal ferry services.
“Indeed the whole Council met today with MSP Liam McArthur and absolutely reinforced the incredible challenge if fair ferries funding is not secured.
“We’ve made him very aware of this position and how very critical to us that we get a resolution, and get it this year – as this is the year that we’ll be preparing what to do over the next few years as we face twin challenges of reduced funding from Government and increased demand for Council services.
“If we don’t get a resolution to cover these baseline ferry costs which are covered elsewhere in Scotland, the choices we have in budget setting will be very much harder, and we will be looking at some of the most extreme cuts to local services that we’ve had to consider.
“This would have a dramatic effect, not only on the isles and their ferry services, but on every budget line in the Council – real cuts right across the services we provide to the Orkney public.
“We’ve relayed to him the position that Mr Mackay set out in recent discussions – that there may be scope for including fairer ferries funding in the forthcoming budget, if it was part of negotiations coming from the political parties – and have asked that the Liberal Democrats take our request very seriously.
“Mr McArthur indicated this was a very high priority for the Lib Dems and that he would work with us in the short term to put the ask in their budget negotiations.”