Wednesday, 8 April 2009

HILFN Sustainable Future

Letter published in the Ross-shire Journal, West Highland FreePress, Stornoway Gazette and Inverness Courier


I welcome calls by members of the board of Highlands and Islands Local Food Network HILFN for a period of reflection and review of the best structure to promote local food in future.

A letter from HILFN board chair Drew Ratter has pinpointed the real causes of the news that the current operation is suspended on 1st April.

I was deeply disappointed that LibDem and Labour MPs, MSPs and councillors have failed to investigate the underlying causes of the HILFN announcement before making comments about HIE funding. I understand that many local food groups in the Highlands and Islands of long standing wish to see a thorough review of the HILFN structure.

The issue is not fundamentally about available public money from HIE which offers seed money to developing businesses. But it is based on evidence about doubts about the organisation's ability to offer core services on a sustainable basis.

The claims about lack of HIE funding made by certain agricultural journalists and spokespeople from SRPBA and NUFS along with several concerned individuals have been made without a full understanding of the months of scrutiny into HILFN last year that ended with the dramatic announcement by Jo Hunt, its director, on March 17th.

I am glad that calmer heads in government and local food networks have been joined by some of the HILFN board who know that a review of the structure can secure effective Highlands and Islands wide support for local producers and long standing food groups.


Rob Gibson SNP MSP Highlands and Islands,
4 Grant St., Wick KW1 5AY

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No-one thinks we need YET another review of local food. And there is sure as heck NO TIME FOR REFLECTION.
This is a time of ACTION - and lots of it.
This was a terrible and shortsighted cost cutting exercise by HIE and nothing more.
To take away the funding JUST as HILFN were finally beginning to get themselves sorted out and start to provide some sort of service to the West Coast area was criminal, but nothing more than we have learned to expect from HIE.
They cna be smug and say they have ticked their box without actually giving us any more sustainability.
I note that this letter was NOT published or I presume sent to the Oban Times or the Press and Journal, so did not cover the whole area serviced by HILFN.
What a shame yet another politician fails to understand what is actually happening on the ground and how HIE decisions are crucifying small businesses.