23 April 2004
Scotland's island councils are to press for greater autonomy from the Scottish Executive and Edinburgh-based Parliament.
They claim they have lost out on funding, control of water and the local government voting system.
Leaders of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles councils are set to co-ordinate their efforts to counter what they see as control centred in the South.
Orkney Islands Council leader Stephen Hagan said residents would soon receive £700 per head less grant-aided expenditure than the Western Islands and Shetland. As a result, it had to find £7m from its reserves to run existing services.
A Western Isles Council spokesman told Public Finance that members were particularly frustrated about their lack of influence over the Executive's plans to introduce proportional representation in local government because it ignored the role of Independent councillors.
He also voiced concern about plans to reduce the representation of the islands on the Highlands and Islands Convention, a policy forum that gives them direct access to the first minister.