The Shetland Islands Council have overwhelmingly voted to look at ways to be independent from Scotland.
Shetland Islands are looking at way that they can become financially and politically independent as public funding has been cut under the SNP government at Holyrood.
Island councillors voted 18 to two in favour of a motion that will formally explore options “for achieving financial and political self-determination.”
The motion, signed by council leader Steven Coutts and convener Malcolm Bell said, “We are concerned that this ongoing situation is seriously threatening the prosperity and even basic sustainability of Shetland as a community.”
Councillor Ryan Thompson said, “Can anyone sitting around this table – and indeed remotely – honestly say that we haven’t witnessed almost a complete erosion of our democracy, ironically since devolution?
“Certainly over the last three years, I have seen a noticeable and sizeable difference – more and more decision-making powers centralised, more and more ring-fenced funding, more and more decisions being thrust upon us for us to make and then for us to find the funds to make them.
“Powers (have been) centralised, local authorities – precisely at a time when we could have been used to our advantage – have been disenfranchised, ignored and overlooked by Government at every step.”
Councillor John Fraser said, “This 22-member chamber is not making a decision on the constitutional future of Shetland.
“Any constitutional changes that ever arise at any time will be decided at the ballot box.
“What we’re asking to approve today is that Shetland Islands Council formally begins exploring options.”
Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said of the vote, that neither Shetland or any other Island council have submitted any requests for additional powers.
Wheelhouse said, “It is the responsibility of individual local authorities to manage their own budgets and to allocate the total financial resources available to them, including on ferry services, on the basis of local needs and priorities.”
He added, “In order to protect and provide support to our island communities, we have had to reprioritise our efforts to support key areas such as access to lifeline services and maintaining crucial supply chains, while managing the impact the virus has had on the islands economy and preventing transmission.”