Wishart seeks urgent update on Air Discount Scheme

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart is seeking an urgent update on future of the Air Discount Scheme.

Ms Wishart has written to the Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, to seek an urgent update on continuation of the Air Discount Scheme (ADS). In March 2019 ADS was renewed until 31 December 2020 but no announcement has been made about the future of the scheme past that date.

ADS was introduced in 2006 by the then Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Tavish Scott, recognising the high cost of air travel for islanders.  

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Wishart pushes for financial support for lifeline transport services

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today pushed the Scottish Government to deliver full funding for Shetland’s internal ferry services and bring forward “real plans” for fixed links.

During Transport questions this afternoon Ms Wishart noted that since 2018 the Scottish Government has failed to deliver on its commitment to fair funding for internal ferry services in the Northern Isles. In the last budget, Shetland Islands Council received only £5.2 million of the £9.49 million revenue funding needed to deliver ferry services. Ms Wishart pushed the government on when it will deliver the full funding needed for the lifeline services.

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More ambition needed on deferred nursery places

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has called on the Scottish Government to bring forward more ambitious legislation to secure the rights of parents who want to defer their child starting school.

Following the campaign run by ‘Give them Time’, the Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd agreed on the need for legislation to guarantee funded ELC for August to December-born children who defer starting school, however legislation presented this week would only introduce this entitlement from August 2023.

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Wishart responds to exam cancellation

Responding to news that Scotland’s exam diet for 2021 will be cancelled, Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Beatrice Wishart said:

 “I’m pleased the Education Secretary has finally made the decision to cancel next year’s exams. It’s been clear for some time that pupils wouldn’t have an equal shot at success. Pupils across the country have had a vastly difference experience of education this term. Some haven’t missed any days in school but others have had the disruption of having to self-isolate several times.

“We saw earlier this year how frustrating late guidance and poor communication is for teachers and pupils. Hard work is needed from government, SQA and Education Scotland to get all the necessary procedures and advice on the assessment model in place for the start of the new term at the latest. The awarding process must guarantee fairness for all learners and teachers must be included and informed throughout.”

Wishart supports local businesses on small business Saturday

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart visited local businesses at the weekend to support Small Business Saturday. Ms Wishart is encouraging shoppers to buy local if they can to support small businesses in Shetland.

Small Business Saturday is a national campaign to highlight the success of small business and to encourage consumers to shop local to support their communities.

Ms Wishart visited craft beer producer Lerwick Brewery, the UK’s most northerly brewery and Island Fish Shetland, which opened its shop last year.

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Islanders advised to choose between a Christmas ‘bubble’ and household visiting

National Clinical Director, Professor Jason Leitch, has today advised that islanders should “choose” between forming a Christmas ‘bubble’ and indoor household visiting with others.

Professor Leitch was responding to a question at Holyrood’s Covid-19 Committee today from Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Referring to the communication of public messaging around the guidance, Ms Wishart highlighted constituent correspondence on the lack of clarity in government guidance for the Christmas period of 23-27 December. Ms Wishart asked whether people in Level 1 areas can have a festive ‘bubble’ arrangement and continue indoor household visiting with others outside that bubble.  

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Alarm bells should be ringing at Ofgem after isles meeting – Carmichael and Wishart

Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP and Beatrice Wishart MSP have called on energy regulator Ofgem to take a more “proactive” approach to supporting energy customers in the isles after a meeting this week. Mr Carmichael and Ms Wishart presented a range of evidence from constituents frustrated by poor customer service, inconsistent access to competitive tariffs and price hikes in the past few years. The isles team agreed to share their full set of evidence with Ofgem ahead of a second meeting in the coming weeks but warned that there should be “alarm bells” at the regulator given the range of problems identified.

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Wishart calls for ‘immediate action’ to address young people’s mental health needs

Speaking in a Holyrood debate this afternoon, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart called on the Scottish Government to take “immediate and material action” to respond to young people’s mental health needs.

The debate on ‘Mental Health Support for Young People in Scotland’ came as government figures published today showed just 60.6% of children who started mental health treatment in the quarter ending September 2020 did so within 18 weeks

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Wishart pays tribute to Shetland’s Third Sector

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today paid tribute to Shetland’s Third Sector response the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms Wishart was speaking in a debate in Holyrood on “Valuing the Third Sector”.  

Ms Wishart used her speech to highlight the high level of volunteering in Shetland. According to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, there are 232 charities in Shetland; only the Western Isles has more per 1,000 population. It is estimated that 55% of adults in Shetland volunteer formally, almost double the national average. Ms Wishart also highlighted Voluntary Action Shetland’s Community Spirit Awards 2020. 59 awards were handed out to individuals, organisations and businesses, recognising their contribution to their communities during the pandemic.

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Education review expands but no plans to report ahead of 2021 election

Scottish Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has criticised the announcement by the Education Secretary that an OECD review of Scottish education will not report at all before next year's Scottish Parliament election. 

In September 2020, John Swinney confirmed he would be “very happy” to discuss the possibility of producing an interim report with the OECD. However, there was no mention of such a report in today's announcement. The OECD’s review into Curriculum for Excellence is due to be published in June 2021.

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