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Council leader calls for ‘fairness and parity’ from Holyrood

OIC leader Councillor James Stockan is appealing to the Scottish Government for funding assistance with regards to Orkney’s internal ferry service.

Orkney Islands Council leader Councillor James Stockan has welcomed the move into phase three of lockdown easing — but warns that “significant challenges” remain for the county.

He has once again called on the Scottish Government to provide financial aid when it comes to Orkney’s internal ferry service as the council faces up to a reduction in income due to physical distancing.

Councillor Stockan met with cabinet secretary for the rural economy and tourism, Fergus Ewing, on Tuesday to highlight the challenges that the county was facing under the two-metre social distancing rule.

Distancing can now be reduced to one-metre on public transport — should specific mitigations be met — which will increase capacity on Orkney’s internal and external ferry services.

Councillor Stockan said: “As a distant island group some significant challenges persist for us.

“The reopening of tourism on July 15 is welcome news for the industry across Scotland I’m sure, but this will take some time to reach Orkney, as people take the time to book accommodation and travel before they come here.

“Our internal ferry services also remain reduced in capacity — which will continue to cause difficulties for Orkney Ferries in terms of reduced income.

“I will continue to press the Scottish Government for financial assistance throughout this period. We have worked hard to raise these issues with them, but our case has not met with support so far, despite the fact that they are supporting council services elsewhere.

“It is simply a matter of fairness and parity and we should not be disadvantaged in comparison to other areas in Scotland.”

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