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Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK


Highlands and Islands Alliance



The Highlands and Islands Alliance describes itself as a community based party in the highlands and islands of Scotland. It says its aim is to "create a strong, independent voice for the highlands and islands".

Highlands and Islands Alliance

Essentials
The alliance has identified core principles which, it says, will ensure the right to live "remotely as independent minded people in strong mutual and co-operative societies".

It views itself as having a key role to play in representing "traditionally marginalised communities", particularly the Highlands, which it says has been outvoiced by Scotland's central belt.

Health
The Highlands and Islands Alliance says people should be placed at the heart of health care decisions. As with all of its other policies, the HIA wants to see the debate on health issues taken out into communities. It says all basic services must be managed to ensure they do not cost more the further away you live from central Scotland.

Economy
The party says economic growth in Scotland's remote areas has been hampered because of the government's emphasis on public/private funding initiatives which are often unworkable in areas with few big businesses.

It is calling for more diverse investment in industries and creation of sustainable jobs. The party wants the instigation of a Scottish Agricultural Policy to address the industry's problems.

Transport
The party says taxation and higher fuel prices unfairly penalise people in the Highlands and Islands. Under its "right to move" principle, the party is calling for an end to road tolls on the Skye Bridge, major ferry improvements and massive cuts in fares on public transport.

Environment
The HIA says the Highlands and Islands have been infringed by "feudal tenure and the current system of land ownership". It wants redistribution of the land to encourage housing, agriculture and development.

Education
The HIA says rural communities should have the same access to pre-school provision as any other community in Scotland and no rural schools should be closed without rigorous consideration of all of the facts. It says some rural areas where schools have been closed have proved the case for a rethink. The party opposes cuts in student tuition fees and grants.

Nationalism
The party is putting forward candidates on regional lists only. It says this will give voters the chance to express their "national" allegiance in the first-past-the-post selection and then vote for candidates who represent the local arena in the proportional representation section.

It says a Scotland which is treated fairly is more likely to want to stay within the union.

Europe
The party says European funding should be targeted more clearly to focus on communities which have found themselves on the periphery of investment.





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