Orkney Islands Council's Leader Councillor James Stockan has described talks with the Scottish Government as constructive - but warned that the Council needs to strike quickly to secure additional funding on the back of this.
Councillor Stockan met with Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, in Edinburgh late yesterday afternoon.
Speaking immediately after the meeting, he said: "The Scottish Government Budget is yet to be set. The Finance Secretary has said that he hasn't ruled out providing us with extra funding, but that support will be needed from other political parties at Holyrood to secure it.
"Our dialogue is still very much open and today's discussions were constructive but the window of opportunity is very small and we'll now be working alongside our local and list MSP's to make quick progress to ensure that we can remove this huge financial burden for the Council and provide lifeline ferry services to our isles residents while also giving more options to the Council as we face the risk of cuts to services".
"The Council argues that having to provide additional funding year after year - almost £3 million during the last year alone, and projected over £5 million for next year - is unfair and inequitable. To date, this has cost the Council £44 million – imagine the positive impact this would have had if it had been spent on other services for our community. I strongly believe that our local elected representatives cannot fail to support our case when the budget is presented by the Scottish Government."