The First Minister’s weekly Covid-19 ministerial statement outlined the retention of legal restrictions, encouraged limiting interactions, working from home, regular testing and increased testing across the festive period. It had been anticipated that the Covid ID card scheme would be expanded to more locations, but instead a proof of a recent negative lateral flow test will also be acceptable to enter locations currently covered by the Covid ID card scheme. Lateral Flow Tests can be ordered here.
The rollout of booster vaccinations continues in Shetland. If you are eligible for a booster vaccine you will be contacted by NHS Shetland, you cannot book online. More information can be found at: www.coronavirus.shetland.nhs.scot. There is no silver bullet to defeating Covid-19 but vaccination is a key measure that people can get to protect themselves and others from the worst of this virus. Shetland specific Covid-19 advice can be found on my website here.
I attended the newly formed CPG on Poverty, where I became one of three co-conveners of the group. I also attended the first meeting of the re-established CPG on Oil and Gas. Fortuitously I quizzed the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings this week about financial support for social landlords upgrading old housing stock to modern energy efficient standards and future proofing them (currently the expense falls on social landlords shoulders). I also asked about additional funding for areas such as the Highlands and Islands where there are higher levels of fuel poverty. The minister indicated that the Scottish Government was aware more needed to be done and there will be additional measures for places with greater fuel poverty. You can see my question here.
I have noticed wrongly-shaped Shetland maps cropping up in different publications. This week I wrote to Lord Matthews, Deputy Chair of the Boundary Commission Scotland, to get to the bottom of the origin of Shetland being wrongly represented on map images, as I believe it could originate from the Boundary Commission’s interpretation. The boundary used by the Commission encompasses Yell Sound. It’s easy to see how this has happened. A line was drawn and people have started to block colour within those lines but as we know this is not the shape of Shetland. I am sure other parts of the country would object to being wrongly represented in the way that the North Mainland and Yell have morphed on some maps. And I don’t think this is what we have in mind when we talk of ‘fixed links’ between the Mainland and the North Isles. Depicting Shetland accurately, in the correct location and correct size helps people to recognise, and hopefully understand, the unique challenges and opportunities for those of us who live and work in this island community. In my letter to Lord Matthews I highlighted the work of my Shetland MSP predecessor, Tavish Scott, who campaigned for Shetland to be represented in the correct places on Scottish Government maps, and not in a box off the Moray Firth. If anyone finds a wrongly-shaped Shetland map please contact me and I will write to the organisation asking that they rectify the error. I hope that the Commission will address this issue and that we will no longer see a mis-shapen Shetland. You can contact me at [email protected] you can also call: 01595 690 044.
If you would like to set up a meeting with me, if you have a matter you think I may be able to assist with, please also get in contact through the details above.
The Dogs Trust held an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament this week to provide MSPs with an update on their work. One campaign the Trust is pursuing was raised in the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee recently, relates to measures to reduce the puppy smuggling trade. You can see my new office pet (who thankfully doesn’t need walking) and some pawfect puns here.
Thursday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and marked the start of 16 Days of Action. At 11:30 the Parliament fell silent to remember the victims of gender-based violence. Later the chamber held a debate at which I contributed. In my speech I called again for a Scottish Liberal Democrat proposal to establish a new Commission to look at ways of preventing men’s violence against women and girls in all its forms, and to report within one year to ensure a co-ordinated approach across all levels of government. You can watch my speech from this Thursday here and I will be speaking in a similar debate on Justice and the 16 Days of Action this coming Tuesday.
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PS My campaign for a new hospital for Shetland continues. Please sign my petition here.