12th June 2020

“I can’t breathe”. The last words of George Floyd who died brutally at the hands of police in the US. His name will not be forgotten. After the explosion of global protests, amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement, remembering a name is no longer enough.

Locally, Joy Duncan and others formed a new group, ‘Shetland Staands Wi Black Lives Matter’ to show solidarity.  Given the pandemic and the need to ensure there’s no opportunity for the Covid-19 virus to spread, a socially-distant walk has been organised on Saturday across all parts of Shetland.

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30th May 2020

The results of the recent Shetland Islands Tourism Survey 2019 is good news in a sector that has been hit hard by the impact of Coronavirus. Tourism was the first to feel the effects as it closed up before the 2020 season got underway, and it will probably be the last industry to come out the other side of lockdown. The worry is that many tourism businesses won’t be able to survive until next Spring.

The financial support packages provided by the UK and Scottish Governments have been welcome, as have the adjustments they’ve made as things have moved on. There remains, however, a significant number of micro businesses, many tourist-related, that have not been eligible for any grant funding. Without them it will be a challenge to build on the good work done pre-Covid to expand tourism in the renew and recovery phase and to showcase all that Shetland has to offer.

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15th May 2020

While the rest of us continue to live with the constraints of lockdown, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) has pushed ahead with plans to centralise air traffic control services. Last week it issued an £8.5m tender for the provision of technology at the new surveillance centre in Inverness.

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3rd April 2020

These are strange times, but as the days have gone on we have become accustomed to the sudden change in our lives knowing, hoping, that it won’t be for too long.

“Furlough, “social distancing”, “shielding” and “self-isolation” have become every day words and phrases. Daily briefings from Downing Street and the First Minister have become the norm as Covid-19 works its way around the world wreaking havoc.

Home in Shetland it now feels like the calm before the storm. We know something big is brewing, we’ve prepared as best we can for the worst, and we wait.

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20th March 2020

We are living in a time of crisis. The COVID-19 virus has changed our lives, and will do so for many months to come.

It was a sombre sitting in Parliament on Tuesday. Sombre but very unified. Only a handful of weeks ago all the political parties were disagreeing over constitutional issues and much more. But differences have been put aside in the face of this unprecedented national and global crisis.

The Cabinet was in the chamber to answer the many questions MSPs had after statements from the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Health ranging from Personal Protection Equipment for healthcare professionals to education closures to business support.

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6th March 2020

The proposals for change brought about by the Re-create Scalloway project were on display in the Youth Centre last Sunday. Although the turnout could have been better, it was good to see in practical terms what might be achieved for the village following input from the community.

The remnants of the old youth centre building has blighted the waterfront for too many years so its removal would be welcome. As the funding from the Town Centre fund has to be spent before the summer that should happen sooner rather than later.

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21st February 2020

At the Education and Skills meeting on Wednesday committee members had the opportunity to ask further questions on the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill. It aims to reform current safeguarding legislation and one of the issues that has been looked at is around childhood convictions.

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7th February 2020

Many years ago I worked at COPE in Lerwick for a few months, and it was that ethos of quality placements for people with additional support needs that came to mind when I visited Camphill School’s Murtle Estate in Aberdeen last Friday as Scottish Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson.

I was particularly interested to find out about Camphill’s Young Adult Service for 16-25 year olds with additional support needs. Staff and students demonstrated the philosophy of each person reaching their full potential through creativity in the craft workshops, or work on the farm, while building on social skills. 

My comment about the sense of calm across the estate, which includes several residential homes, was greeted by “everyone who comes here says that”.

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24th January 2020

Entrepreneurs often start out working from home, but it can be difficult sometimes to meet prospective clients when you’re operating out of a small space under the stairs or from your bedroom. It’s no different for Shetland entrepreneurs, but now there’s another option.

On Monday I was invited to visit Co-Work Shetland, a new business facility in Lerwick, set up by John Pottinger. The office space in Bank Lane has been converted into a shared area where small businesses and freelancers can operate from individual work stations without the domestic distractions. It’s a welcome innovative addition to the town centre.

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