Friday, July 22, 2011

Westminster plan for Crown Estate Fund for coastal communities, Danny Alexander bypasses Alex Salmond’s call for it devolved to Holyrood

Dear All

Tory Prime Minister David Cameron says he has a respect agenda for Scotland and its Government, the truth is that is smoke and mirrors.

There is no respect, it is an illusion.

To show the point, ministers at Westminster have stuck two fingers up to the SNP over who should control millions of pounds generated by the Crown Estate in Scotland.

At present, the Crown Estate is controlled by Westminster and Danny Alexander, the as Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury has decided along with the rest of the coalition to announce that a new fund will use Crown Estate profits to help coastal communities.

This means that charities and community groups will benefit from the specially created fund.

Currently it is £4 million a year but likely to rise to around a whopping £40m by 2021.

Call it buying influence direct from Westminster against the narrative used at Holyrood.

The fund completely bypasses First Minister Alex Salmond’s call for all Crown Estate revenue in Scotland to be devolved to Holyrood.

In the fight to keep Scotland within the union, the unionists will use every device at their disposal.

Lib Dem Danny Alexander has admitted he had not engaged with the Scottish Government on the fund.

On the basis that although they have an interest; they don’t have an input or a leg to stand on, which is correct!

Finance Secretary John Swinney responded by accusing the Treasury of trying to “buy off Scotland’s coastal communities by offering them only 50% of their own resources” and said “this paltry announcement does not go nearly far enough”.

Alexander said:

“There will be a direct benefit to coastal communities from what is likely to be a significant growth area in years to come, as offshore renewables especially become a more important part of our energy generation.”

The fund starts next April but will be UK-wide in nature.

In Scotland, there will be two parts, one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other covering the rest of the country.

It will be administered by the Big Lottery Fund.

They will decide what projects will benefit and by how much.

Alexander also added:

“As a Highlander, I feel it’s important we enable coastal communities to share in the benefit of offshore developments in their areas. I hope this will be a fund that will grow over the years and enable a real difference to be made in these places.”

This is all about buying influence, it is patently clear; the unionists are doing what anyone else would expect from a political group.

Creating doubt in the minds of ordinary people and providing a channel that Westminster is good for them.

As to the SNP plans for control, he said:

“The SNP have put forward a proposal and we are considering it but this is a better way forward for the communities in Scotland.”

In other words, case closed move on.

When I heard that the SNP wanted the Crown Estates, I was doubtful that they would get it.

Why would Westminster give up control, what is in it for them?

Absolutely nothing!

Westminster is just sending several messages to Holyrood and the Scottish Government.

The SNP should send one back and reject the entire Scotland Bill.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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