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SNP CANDIDATE STANDS OUT AS MAN WITH IDEAS IN RACE TO HOLYROOD
SNP Candidate for the forthcoming Holyrood elections, Rob Gibson, has today backed local calls for more local decision taking powers for Caithness.
Speaking as the race to Holyrood enters it's second week, Mr Gibson has outlined how Caithness could benefit from more local government. The SNP candidate, and Highland MSP since 2003, has pointed to Norway as an example of how more devolution in Caithness might work.
In a major development in the race to represent the county in Holyrood, Mr Gibson is the first candidate in this election to respond to longstanding local concern at a lack of local rights to make council decisions in Caithness.
Speaking exclusively to North of Scotland News, Mr Gibson said:
"I am optimistic and confident about our future in Caithness. We need to take steps now to secure that prosperity, or we'll be kicking ourselves again and again further down the line.
"I fundamentally believe that a major step in securing that more prosperous future in Caithness involves taking more local government, health and development decisions locally.
"Taking more local responsibility means reaping more rewards locally. From our emerging energy sector, to our vitally important small business community, Caithness stands to gain from more local powers.
"Highland Council under a previous Chief Executive set up 'area' committees the size of Westminister constituencies. Now, some thought has to go into giving the Caithness wards some powers. A step by step return of powers to Caithness should begin.
"We need only look to Norway to see how smaller local government units make for more prosperous communities. In Scandinavia, it is small, rural communities - very similar to ours - who are leading the way in energy development, and they're making sure the local community benefits first and foremost. We have the skills, talent and drive to make this work in Caithness.
"There is undoubtedly local appetite for more decision making powers in Caithness, and I believe it is the job of politicians to listen and act on constituents' concerns. I am saying to folk in Caithness today; I hear you, I agree with you, and I believe more local government is best here."
Contact for campaign press is Alex MacLeod: 07590 281 259
In Norway, a commune can contain anything from 100 residents. These communes competently deal with administration of the education and health systems in the country, as well as working on localised energy systems. They provide small rural areas with strong representation within regional and national government.
In Sweden, the island of Gotland is at the forefront of renewable energy development. Under Swedish local government arrangements, the relatively small local authority enjoys a significant return on energy development in the area.