eNews 26th June 2022

On Monday I had the pleasure of formally opening the new premises of Peerie Foxes daycare and creche, which provides care for around 50 children. It was great to spend time with staff and see the new location, thinking of all the young minds that will play and learn there. I also met with the Education Service to discuss the Sandwick Junior High School follow-up school inspection.

On Tuesday I met with the Transport Minister to discuss passenger and freight capacity on Serco-NorthLink Ferries and Loganair performance. I await a written response from the Minister on the action the Scottish Government will take on the issues raised with her.

In addition, I have also started a poll asking if Serco NorthLink should return the option of shared cabins. You can express your view here.

I also raised this issue of fixed links in the isles with the Transport Minister, and later in the week I again raised fixed links during a session of General Questions in terms of depopulation. I am pleased to say that the Cabinet Secretary for Culture has offered to meet with me to discuss the matter. You can watch the exchange here.

On Wednesday the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee continued the scrutiny of the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill. We also heard from Professor Griggs, who gave evidence to the on the aquaculture regulatory review and his recommendations that a new single consenting document process be created. In response to a question I put to him, he indicated that he envisaged this to be coordinated in a new part of Marine Scotland, which would be managed by someone who was an expert in both aquaculture and the needs of rural and island communities.

The Cross Party Group Mental Health has been looking at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children, young people and families and a report into our findings will be published later in the summer. There was a good attendance at our online meeting on Tuesday.

I also attended a Long Covid Cross Party Group press briefing to hear powerful testimony about the impacts of Long Covid, especially on young people, and calls for more action from the Scottish Government. You may have seen some of the coverage in news reports.

Next week Shetland will host its first ever Pride, on Saturday 2nd July. I wish those attending, along with the organisers, a great day. Well done to Kerrie and the team for the hard work they have put into arranging the celebration. You can read more here.

Finally this week, I was delighted to meet many familiar faces at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh on Friday on a very hot day. The regions of Scotland rotate the ‘hosting’ of the event and this year the Highlands and Islands were in the hot seat. I was pleased to see Shetland well represented. I spoke with local businesses and enjoyed locally produced food and crafted goods. Like other Shetlanders at the show, Aimee and Kirsty Budge are great ambassadors for Shetland, and their talk about encouraging young people into crofting and farming was well received. I also met with other stakeholders in the rural and agricultural industry, including the National Rural Mental Health Forum, set up by Support in Mind Scotland.

The hot weather on the Mainland meant fog rolled in at home, but I was not alone in feeling frustration at the cancelled Friday night flight. Finally getting back Saturday lunchtime, the sight ofSu mburgh from the plane lifted spirits. It’s always good to get home.

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