On Thursday morning it came to my attention that the food and drink discount for islanders on the NorthLink ferry had been withdrawn. I was then told by Northlink that while the islander discount code is no longer available, the food and drink menu is reasonably priced and equal for all passengers. That misses the point. This is a lifeline service for islanders. In order to get to the mainland, some have no alternative. It isn’t like grabbing a coffee for a one hour trip. It is a twelve hour overnight trip and unreasonable to further disadvantage island passengers, and it will impact most those on a tight budget. You can listen to my Radio Shetland interview about this here. You can also sign the petition calling for NorthLink to reverse the policy here.
After the late issued Red Warning from the Met Office regarding Storm Arwen last week I questioned the Deputy First Minister who outlined the Scottish Government’s response to the storm. Many in the North East and South of Scotland were impacted and spent days without power. We were very lucky in Shetland. Arwen highlighted the fragile nature of our modern infrastructure and you can watch my question about future provision of communication here. The Climate Emergency means that more storms like Arwen are likely. The Scottish Government should ensure we are prepared.
At the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee this week I raised the issue of entanglements, both inshore and offshore. Not only are nets out at sea are dangerous to fishing vessels, they can lead to unintended harm to sea life. I will continue to press for more action to tackle the problem. The RAINE session this week focused on how new and innovative techniques that can be used in crofting, farming, fishing and aquaculture to ensure that our food production is sustainable and limits environmental impact. This will be an overarching theme of the committee as we go forward and increasingly topical as net zero targets move ever closer.
On Wednesday I took the opportunity during a session of Finance and the Economy Portfolio Questions to question the future of a just transition for the Highlands and Islands. My Party Leader, Alex Cole Hamilton pressed for a Just Transition Commission in the Highlands and Islands in October to take account of the specific needs and unique opportunities in the region after a Scottish Government announcement of a new £500 million Just Transition Fund, limited to the North East and Moray. You can watch my question here.
On Thursday the Scottish Parliament held a debate on Covid recovery. In my speech I highlighted the importance of vaccines, the importance of messaging by governments and public bodies and globally how we are all inter-connected and inter-dependent. I spoke about those living with long Covid, and of the resilience of young people living through this period and how they are needed in the recovery. You can watch my speech here.
Among other meetings this week, on Thursday evening I attended a drop in session for Heart Valve Disease in Scotland. I was part of a conversation about healthcare and the expectation of people living in rural and island communities. It was suggested that perhaps we accept a lesser service. I believe we deserve the best. That is why I continue to press for a new, modern hospital fit for the 21st century. Agree? Sign my petition here.
I will be holding an Advice Surgery on Friday 10 December in Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick. For more details please get in touch on: 01595 690 044 or email: [email protected]