I hope that everyone enjoyed the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last week and managed to take some time to pause across the weekend. Holyrood is back in full swing and I wanted to update you on some of the things I have been up to from just before the Jubilee and this week.
As a nature champion for Orca I was very pleased to be able to join a shore-based whale watch from the Sandwick parking area overlooking Mousa at the end of May. I was also pleased to join the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) roadshow the following day in Lerwick. Crofters and farmers, like all of us, are feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis and it is important that we support the production of food to help keep even higher costs from being passed onto consumers. With a new Agriculture Bill due next year, which will be scrutinised by the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) committee the roadshows are well timed.
Last week I also responded on behalf of the Scottish Liberal Democrats during a debate on tackling the drug deaths crisis and drugs. You can watch my contribution here. On behalf of my party, I also spoke in the chamber in support of plans to help pave the way for new National Parks in Scotland this Tuesday. You can watch my speech here.
On Saturday last week I attended the Classic Car Show which was quite impressive not only with the number of exhibits but the professional way in which the event is run by volunteers and enthusiasts. I kicked off this week at the Shetland Saltire Awards at Mareel. I was pleased to present awards to the young volunteers and congratulate them on their achievements. Despite all that young people have been through these last couple of years, the volunteers on Monday night demonstrated their contribution and commitment to a huge range of volunteering activities across the community.
I also joined the celebration of 101 years of the Weather Observatory in Lerwick.
The RAINE committee has started to scrutinise the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill. After hearing from Scottish Government officials last week, this week saw two evidence sessions with representatives from rural sectors and conservation organisations. I asked the panellists for their views on the proposed licensing conditions for using more than two dogs and for their opinions on the proposed trail hunting ban. It is important to hear from relevant stakeholders to inform the committee’s work and evidence sessions will continue next week.
This week I also revealed that BT/Openreach has quoted a community of 15 Shetland homes £725,000 to get connected to the broadband network. While it’s good to see the vessel laying subsea cables for the expansion of broadband infrastructure, the frustration continues about inequality of provision. You can read more here.
Among local meetings I also met with HIAL for an update on activities through the network and at Sumburgh, including flight delays and the café airside. I also met with the BT Group about issues with the mast in Unst, and I am awaiting further updates as solutions are being sought.