Responding to the news that the Scottish Government have announced additional funding for four new jobs to develop crofting in the Western Isles, Northern Isles MSPs Liam McArthur and Beatrice Wishart have asked the Scottish Government to “follow that logic through”, and allow for a fully tailored approach to crofting.
A group of Liberal Democrat Highlands and Islands MPs and MSPs have written a joint letter to express their “increasing concern” at the reported threat to the R100 programme for superfast broadband in the Highlands and Islands.
This follows reports that the ongoing legal action taken against the Scottish Government’s handling of procurement for the ‘Northern Lot’, may mean that its European state aid protection could expire before the contract is actually awarded.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that islanders are not disadvantaged when it comes to the easing of coronavirus restrictions. Ms Wishart has received representations from constituents who are frustrated about their ability to see family and friends on the Mainland.
Guidance published by the Scottish Government on 18 June stated, “Travelling to and from islands to visit family would be acceptable within this guidance, but individuals should consider whether they can do so while acting in line with all other guidance.” This effectively meant most islanders would have to arrive and return the same day in order to stick within the current guidance that indoor meetings are not possible.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart is highlighting that the Scottish Government’s new fund to support women who have experienced mesh complication will be open for applications from 1 July 2020. Ms Wishart is encouraging eligible women in Shetland to apply.
Women who have received a transvaginal mesh implant through an NHS Scotland Health Board and who have experienced complications can apply for an one off £1,000 payment. Women can claim if they have had to pay for emotional or practical support to help manage their condition.
National Alert Level
Today the four Chief Medical Officers of the UK downgraded the national alert level from 4 to 3, indicating that the virus remains "in general circulation" but there can be a "gradual relaxation of restrictions". Put simply, there is still a risk of outbreaks but there has been a sustained drop in the number of cases. It is worth noting that the alert level is a general indicator of the state of the pandemic but is not directly linked to any particular policy changes (see below).
Northern Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP and Beatrice Wishart MSP have written to the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, calling for improved isles connectivity to be a positive legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic. Highlighting the increased need for strong connections due to “work from home” guidance and the ongoing challenges faced by isolated communities such as Foula and Skerries in Shetland, the Liberal Democrat parliamentarians call for close cooperation between the UK and Scottish governments with telecoms providers to improve service.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has reinforced the need for a 12-month support package for Shetland’s tourism and hospitality industries to help the sectors survive the impact of Covid-19. Ms Wishart made the case again to Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing during a Holyrood virtual question session.
Ms Wishart told parliament that Shetland has a shorter tourist season that mainland Scotland and that some in the industry have likened the prospect of a recovering from Covid-19 as “having to first survive three winters”. Ms Wishart asked the Tourism Secretary if the government will consider a 12-month “bespoke” support package for Shetland to help the visitor economy survive until next year.
The Scottish Government has published a Route Map document for the easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland.
It is still important that physical distancing is maintained at all times – staying 2 metres apart – and practice good hygiene.
On 29 May, we entered Phase 1 of the route map. The following measures are now permitted:
- One household can meet up with another outdoors. This should be only one household within the same day and a recommended maximum of 8 people overall.
- Outdoor spaces can be used for recreation, for example sitting in parks or having picnics. However people should not share foods between households and avoid using shared facilities.
- People can travel a short distance for leisure but it is recommended that you stay in your local area and avoid public transport. Some outdoor activities like golf and angling can resume. Recreational boating is also permitted: https://www.shetland.gov.uk/ports/documents/NTM0720.pdf
- Most outdoor workplaces can resume.
- The construction sector will move to the first phase of its re-start plan.
- Restaurants and cades can provide delivery, take-away and drive through food.
On 1 June:
- Staff can return to schools to prepare for schools to reopen for blended learning on 11 August.
- Household waste recycling centres begin to reopen.
On 3 June:
- Childminding services and outdoor nursery provision will be available, subject to increased hygiene and physical distancing
If the police find people on premises flouting these rules, they will offer strong advice for people to stop. However, if you are aged 18 years or over and refuse to follow their instructions you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice.
People who are shielding are being asked to continue to do so for the time being.
The First Minister reiterated that people should not be travelling to and from the isles except when essential, and we have welcomed this reminder.
Further Phase 1 guidance is available here.
“Protests across the world have asked us to think about whether we have a role in feeding or overlooking racism in our communities, from overt discrimination to unconscious or systematic bias.
“I believe that the Shetland community is, on the whole, welcoming and kind. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do better.
“Some may have been party to things that seemed harmless, but in fact have never been acceptable. As individuals we should call out racist remarks or so-called jokes when we hear them. Seeing blacked-up faces at some local events needs to be a thing of the past.
“Part of being an ally is looking at yourself and your community and recognising where you can do better. Shetland, just like everywhere else, can do better.”
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart is paying tribute the Shetland’s carers this Carers week (8 to 14 June) and encouraging people to come forward to access the support they are entitled to.
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. This year’s theme is Make Caring Visible