THE Scottish Government has removed the word “remote” from the title of one of its action plans for rural and island communities after a backlash, The National has been told.
It comes after ministers announced plans to invest in and publish a “Remote, Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan”.
On Monday, the Scottish Government added on social media: “As part of this year’s Programme for Government, this will help attract people to our rural and island communities.”
However, the use of the word “remote” attracted criticism.
Helen MacDonald, from the Mull and Iona Community Trust, wrote in reply: “We have asked for 'remote' to be dropped from the title of the Housing Action Plan: remote from where, what, whom?
“Whilst this plan has been developed with significant input from rural and island community groups, the word 'remote' has connotations of centralist policy making.”
Shona MacLennan, the ceannard (head) of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, agreed. She wrote: “We’ve been raising the inappropriateness of this term in a range of meetings. Doesn’t help to retain or attract people!”
Others also took issue with the word, with Doric Board member Alan Hay writing: “Well said. I've been going on about this for years.
“It's not remote to people who live there, no matter where 'there' may be.”
But others took a different view. Ruaraidh Walker wrote: "If the distance from the majority of the population in the country is not discussed, or even recognised, then how can the very specific needs (ferries, supply lines, road equivalent costs etc etc) be properly addressed?
"Is being at the end of two or even three ferries not remote?"
Asked if it had received representations opposing the use of the word “remote”, the Scottish Government said it had taken the decision to remove it from the title of the housing plan.
A spokesperson told The National: “We understand the importance of terminology and following a number of engagements ministers undertook over the summer with stakeholders, we have taken the decision to name the plan the Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan.”
They went on: “We are committed to delivering more affordable homes in rural areas and the Action Plan will set out the steps we will take – we also recently announced a package of up to £960,000 to fund community housing trusts in rural areas.”
The news comes after the Scottish Government was forced to delete social media posts containing maps of the country which did not include Shetland.
Concerns were raised that the exclusion of the archipelago may have been unlawful, as The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 states: “The Shetland mapping requirement is that, in any map of Scotland, the Shetland Islands must be displayed in a manner that accurately and proportionately represents their geographical location."