In the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee yesterday, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan spoke to stress the need for representation of islanders on the boards of organisations such as CalMac and HIAL.
Petitioners on behalf of the Uist Economic Taskforce lodged a petition in March 2021 calling for community representation to be introduced on the boards of public organisations delivering lifeline services to island communities.
Speaking in the committee meeting, Allan highlighted the importance of local knowledge and accountability on the boards of these kinds of organisations:
“The petitioner’s submission, rightly in my view, states that community and place should be at the heart of good government. Given that the principle mission of organisations such as David MacBrayne Ltd, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and Highland and Islands Airports Ltd is to serve island communities, it is not in the interests of good governance of the boards of these organisations to be as remote as they currently are.”
Allan also noted that the former Transport Minister, Graeme Dey, had been sympathetic to the issue, as well as colleagues from across the political spectrum:
“In early September, I held a Members Debate on Reserving Board Seats for Islanders for the boards of CalMac. There was a large degree of cross-party consensus on the need for more representation of islanders.
“The Transport Minister at the time, Graeme Dey, also signalled that the Scottish Government was open to changes. In responding to a Parliamentary Question of mine a few weeks ago, the Minister also stated that he had tasked the newly appointed chair of David MacBrayne Ltd on exploring ways of getting an island-based presence on these boards.”
Allan concluded by urging the committee to keep the petition open in order to push for changes in the criteria of board appointments to give much more prominence to the experience of living in an island community.
The committee agreed, saying they would write to the new Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, about the issue, as well as asking the committee’s clerks to liaise with the Net Zero, Energy and Transport committee regarding the appointments process to the boards of public bodies.
To watch Alasdair Allan’s contribution to the committee in full please see: