Boost for Yes as Orkney Islands Council Convenor pledges support

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The backing of the Convener of Orkney Islands Council Steven Heddle has been welcomed as a significant boost to the Yes campaign by Nicola Sturgeon today.

Writing in a personal capacity in today’s edition of the Orcadian, independent councillor Steven Heddle highlighted the strength of Scotland’s economy, stating that we are “set up to be the wealthiest country that ever gained independence, one of the 20 wealthiest in the world according to the Financial Times, ahead of the UK and France.”

The risk to Orkney of the Tory’s in/out referendum is also highlighted by Cllr Heddle – who says that Orkney is “an unwilling participant in the UK’s swing to the right” – and expressed concern at the risk of budget cuts and the impact this could have on Scotland’s NHS.

Cllr Heddle’s letter ends by saying that: “I am convinced that an independent Scotland is not only our best chance of being healthy, wealthy, and wise, but also an exciting prospect, a new country and new politics for all parties, starting from a sound foundation for us to make of what we will.”

This endorsement follows on from the Chair of NHS Orkney, John Ross Scott – also speaking in a personal capacity – backing a Yes vote as the best way to protect Scotland’s NHS – and the endorsement from the star of the Shetland TV series Douglas Henshall.

Welcoming Cllr Heddle’s endorsement, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“More and more people from across our islands are waking up to the incredible opportunity a Yes vote will give us – and to have Cllr Heddle’s endorsement is an example of the momentum that is building behind the Yes campaign.

“It’s no wonder that Cllr Heddle is now backing a Yes vote – just a few weeks ago we saw Westminster’s offer of more powers to our islands fall well short of what communities are looking for.

“While the Scottish Government has been clear that after a Yes vote powers over the crown estate will be devolved – the UK government has totally failed to match this pledge.  In fact, the UK Government itself admitted that it’s belated offering to our islands don’t meet the aspirations of the Island Councils.

“Independence is an incredible opportunity for Orkney – and for people across Scotland’s islands.  Independence will guarantee greater representation for island communities and will see the wealth from the islands’ seabed accrue to the islands themselves, rather than to a distant Westminster government.”