We’ve been asking the candidates in the upcoming council elections what their views on autonomy are. The specific questions we asked are:-
1. Do you believe Shetland should have more powers locally?
2. Do you think autonomy is something the next Council should investigate (as the Orkney Islands Council are taking steps to do)?
We shall be adding a page for each response as they come in.
Alec Priest – North Isles – Wir Shetland member.
To answer both questions, yes.
I believe a self-governance of Shetland as a British Overseas Territory would be the best possible outcome for Shetland in the current politically turbulent environment. As we will be faced with major political reforms going into be the future regardless of what we do, a pro-active approach is required to ensure Shetland gets the best deal possible.
In the current age of austerity with cuts to every public service, it can be hard to understand the extremely strong economic position Shetland is in.
- Shetlands output in taxes was at least £250 million; this is based on figures from FOI requests to the HMRC and very conservative estimates based on national averages for VAT.
- The SICs 2015/16 expenditure was £127 million but the block grant from central government was only £82 million.
- Shetland is currently receiving an annual shortfall of £45 million but a self-governing Shetland would have a surplus of £123 million per annum plus its share of oil revenues.
This needs to be investigated further, if elected I will strongly push for a feasibility study to be carried out in order to let the Shetland public to make a decision on the available options. I cannot imagine anybody with Shetlands interests at heart would be against knowing all the facts.
If Shetland chooses to pursue autonomy the United Nations laws are in place to both enable us and protect us. The UNs ‘Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’ (resolution 1514) is very clear on rights to self-determination.
The ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’ (UNCLOS) makes it very clear that Shetland would be in control of both its 12 mile territorial limit and our 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zone.
I will be happy to meet up and discuss the issue with yourself and the committee.