Rhoda Grant and Anas Sarwar with other candidates in Inverness launch the Recovery Plan for the Highlands and Islands

I was delighted to meet fellow Co-operative Party candidate Anas Sarwar in Inverness on Saturday to help him launch A Recovery Plan for the Highlands and Island Empowering and Enabling our communities.


Like Anas I know that we need a recovery plan for Scotland and the Highlands and Islands in the next parliament.  Like Anas I recognise that there needs to be a strong co-operative thread in the recovery in the Highlands and Islands as in the rest of Scotland.


Along with John Erskine I will be making a strong case for a co-operative recovery for the Highlands and Islands.  A jobs recovery is important, and we need Highlands and Islands Enterprise to make a difference and to be more in the spirit of the old Highland and Islands Development Board established by a previous Labour Government.  Highlands and islands Enterprise also needs to promote co-operative business models.


In the Highlands and Islands, we need to keep wealth in our communities.  That is why Community Wealth Building is an important part of our plans.  These plans will encourage investment in local businesses and ensure that the public sector in the Highlands and Islands invests locally meaning that public money makes a difference in our communities.  It is also important to look at how public investment can encourage different business models including co-operatives.


We need to protect our high streets; many bank branches have closed across the region and we are looking for banks to commit to not closing the last branch in town.


In a largely rural area like ours public transport is hugely important we will create a People’s ScotRail and we will support councils to create People’s Bus Services.  In our area we need to support community shared transport schemes and look to have a range of options for people across the Highlands and Islands.


Food and drink production is important for the economy of the Highlands and Islands.  It is a disgrace that many top-quality products are made in the Highlands and Islands from salmon to whisky at the same time as people go hungry in our country.  We want the Scottish Government to implement the Right to Food in Scots Law and I intend to bring forward legislation to make that happen in the next parliament.


Community ownership of the land is important in the Highlands and Islands.  Previous Labour and Co-operative governments have a strong record of delivery.  We will look to strengthen even further community ownership of land and look to further develop co-operative and mutual models of ownership which empower local communities.


Votes for Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidates across the Highlands and Islands will deliver a recovery plan for our region with a strong co-operative thread which will empower our communities.