Local News for Monday 15th July 2019
CALL FOR ACTION ON CREW CRISIS FACING FISHING FLEET
Following a recent Maritime Safety drive, SNP MP Angus MacNeil called for the UK Government to finally act on the crew shortage crisis facing the West Coast fishing fleet which is a key safety issue.
At a parliamentary meeting with Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani MP, Mr MacNeil said ensuring access to a skilled crew was paramount to safety at sea and urged the UK Government to allow skippers to recruit crew from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) as they did in the past.
Currently many boats are tied up due to a lack of suitable crew meaning loss of earnings and a knock on effect on local economies.
The Maritime Minister announced an additional £700,000 for training and safety equipment on fishing boats.
This is on top of an existing £250,000 pot, which is matched by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Mr MacNeil said: “There is a united voice on this from the Scottish Government, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Western Isles Fisherman’s Association and it is about time that the UK Government listened.
LABOUR CHALLENGE 'WESTERN ISLES SILENT MEN'
As it was confirmed that the islands have suffered by far the most severe cuts of any local council in Scotland over the past five years, Labour candidate Alison MacCorquodale demanded answers.
“It is time for the Western Isles silent men – Alasdair Allan and Angus Brendan MacNeil – to come out of hiding and offer some explanations as to why their constituency has been singled out for this cruel treatment”.
According to figures released by the Scottish Parliament’s own research unit, per capita funding of local government in the Western Isles has fallen by an astonishing £572 since 2013-14 – more than three times the Scottish average of £160.
With a cut of £414 per-head of population, Shetland is suffering the second highest level of cuts whilst the least badly treated council, North Ayrshire, suffered only a £32 cut per head in the same period.
Ms MacCorquodale said: “This has been going on for years and accounts for the impossible decisions that CnES has to make in trying to defend services for the most vulnerable and serve the community as a whole. The recent cuts to bus services in Lewis and Harris is just one harsh reality of SNP rule.
Ms MacCorquodale continued: “The Western Isles have been very tolerant of Messrs Allan and MacNeil and their complete avoidance of any difficult questions. But this is a crisis and they must be forced to answer.
“Why does the Western Isles continue to be treated in this way? Do they support the SNP Government’s formula which creates these appalling outcomes for their constituents? Do they understand why this is happening and have they ever challenged it?