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Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has said that the Scottish Government must do more to support local newspapers after the SNP lost a vote in the Scottish Parliament last week week on the decision to scrap business rates relief for newspapers such as the Lochaber Times.
MSPs defeated the Scottish Government by a single vote over their plans last Wednesday.
Scottish Conservative MSP Mr Cameron said: ‘Kate Forbes [Cabinet Secretary for Finance ] made a terrible error in scrapping rates relief for our local papers.
‘She must now respect the vote in the Scottish Parliament and reverse her decision before any more harm is done.
‘The hallmark of a functioning democracy is a vigorous free press which has the resources to employ journalists and hold decision-makers to account. That is just as important at a local level as it is at a national level.
‘Here in the Highlands and Islands we have a very fine tradition of independent-minded newspapers which local people can trust.
‘It would be a tragedy if they were allowed to fail by a negligent SNP Government which appears to resent scrutiny and is doing little to help them survive.’
Mr Cameron’s fellow Highlands and Islands MSP and Conservative, Jamie Halcro Johnston, speaking prior to last week’s vote, said regional news brands had reported a 35 percent decline in their advertising revenue for 2020, a trend which he said will undoubtedly be continuing into 2021.
‘As someone who worked in media for many years, I know all too well the impact that will have,’ he added.
Newspapers like the Lochaber Times, pictured, need rates relief says local MSP Donald Cameron.