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SNP increases air discount to 50 per cent

THE SCOTTISH Government has announced an increase in the Air Discount Scheme (ADS) applied to flights in and out of Shetland from 40 per cent to 50 per cent.

It follows months of concerted grassroots campaigning aimed at reducing the cost of travelling to and from the islands on Flybe/Loganair-operated planes.

ADS, first introduced under the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition in May 2006, will switch to the higher rate of discount for tickets booked on or after 1 January.

Streetlights: SIC councillors easily LED

The six LEDs installed in Lerwick's Bank Lane five years ago have worked well, according to council officials. Photo: ShetnewsSHETLAND Islands Council is to investigate whether to spend over £2 million on replacing many of its existing streetlights with modern LED lanterns, which use “at least” 50 per cent less energy than conventional lighting.

Members of the environment and transport committee on Monday agreed to sanction a detailed report and then produce a fully-costed proposal after hearing that the Scottish Futures Trust estimates the capital cost of replacing the lights could be funded by the resulting long-term savings.

The local authority has around 3,900 streetlights and additional external lighting on public buildings, leisure centres, ferry terminals and piers – and the council’s share of that lighting could be included in the proposed upgrade to LED lights.

Tories under fire over emergency tug contract

The Herakles tug, usually based in Kirkwall, provides cover around the Northern Isles.LOCAL politicians are exerting pressure on the UK Government to ensure the waters around Shetland remain protected by an emergency tug after the current contract expires in March.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael accused the Tory administration of forgetting the devastation caused by the Braer disaster in 1993 – which resulted in a tug being stationed here in the first place – and said leaving the North Sea unprotected would be “reckless beyond belief”.

Survey: mental health services are falling short

THREE in four islanders believe that Shetland’s mental health services are inadequate, according to a survey run by local MSP Tavish Scott.

More than 900 people responded to Scott’s survey, which also highlighted concerns on GP and dentistry services and the experience people have when travelling south for treatment.

Top athletes in town for first sports conference

Dame Kelly Holmes visits Shetland for the first time to speak at the inaugural sports conference in Lerwick. Photo: ShetNews/Chris CopeTHE INAUGURAL Shetland Sports Conference got under way this weekend as locals heard talks from athletics icon Dame Kelly Holmes and Paralympian and adventurer Karen Darke.

The one-day event, which was hosted by Shetland Islands Council at the Clickimin Leisure Complex on Saturday, featured a plethora of presentations, workshops and sessions designed to help local sportspeople realise their potential.

Food fair to celebrate local produce

Food author and cook Marian Ermitage from Scatness at last year's Shetland Food Fair. Photo Dave DonaldsonA HOST of local food and drink producers are all set for the Shetland Food Fair that runs for three days at the end of this month.

This year for the first time the food fair will be held independently of the popular Shetland Craft Fair.

Also for the first time, ferry operators NorthLink will sponsor the opening night on 30 October.

The list of local producers already lined up for this year’s event include The Shetland Distillery Company, Shetland Farm Dairies, Frankie’s Fish & Chips, Skibhoul Bakery, Scoop Wholefoods, Artisan Island Cheese, Shetlandeli, Vidlin Pies, Liz’s Homebakes, Gateside Pork, Emma Louise’s The Coffee Shop, Sandwick Pork, Valhalla Brewery, Katja’s Cakes, Lerwick Brewery, Transition Turriefield and Uradale Farm.

Yell tidal turbine hits troubled waters

An image of the new Nova M100 tidal turbine being prepared for installation off Yell. Image Nova InnovationA PIONEERING tidal energy project in Shetland backed by £2 million from the Scottish government has run into troubled waters.

A 30 kilowatt machine installed by Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation off the island of Yell last year was dubbed “the world’s first community-owned tidal turbine”.

Refugee donations packed up and ready to go

Kaila McCulloch, Emma Harmer and Rona Arthur from the Shetland Solidarity with Refugees group, along with Shetland Transport's Hamish Balfour and Raymond Stewart, after packing up the final pallet ahead of shipping donations to Inverness. Photo: Shetnews/Neil RiddellFOLLOWING three weeks of hard graft, the Shetland Solidarity with Refugees group has packed up two trailer-loads of aid ready for shipping to the mainland – from where it is to be distributed to refugee camps around Europe and possibly beyond.

A total of 114 sleeping bags, 80 tents and 57 bedrolls and ground sheets were among the donations, along with numerous pallets containing clothes, food and other essentials. 

Man from Newcastle kept drugs well hid

A MAN from the north east of England who admitted concealing drugs in his foreskin after coming off the NorthLink ferry at Lerwick's Holmsgarth terminal has been sent to jail.

John Thompson, of 63 Finsbury Avenue, Walker, Newcastle, previously admitted perverting the course of justice by giving a false name to police in Shetland and later refusing to allow an external and internal medical examination at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, in Lerwick, on 17 September.

The 30 year old appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to initially deny that he had been concealing drugs in his body.

16 months behind bars for 'considerable menace'

A SERIAL offender who jumped in front of cars and repeatedly struggled with police officers has been sent to jail for 16 months.

Nathan Hilditch, of 12A Horseshoe Close, Virkie, learned his fate at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday after admitting a string of new offences.

The 20 year old pleaded guilty to running into the path of moving vehicles at Lerwick’s Holmsgarth Road on 13 September.

MP will be 'worried', says SNP opponent

Danus Skene still feels the "least dishonourable" route would be for Carmichael to resign and trigger a by-election.THE SNP challenger to Alistair Carmichael in May’s general election has responded to the news that a legal case against him will proceed to the next stage by saying his opponent “will be a more worried person today than he was yesterday”.

Danus Skene, who finished 817 votes behind Carmichael in the Northern Isles and is seeking to win election to Holyrood in Shetland next year, said he continued to believe the “least dishonourable option” open to the MP was to resign and submit himself to a re-run.

Carmichael legal case proceeds to next stage

Embattled Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael could have to give evidence in court.THE LEGAL challenge against Alistair Carmichael’s election in May is to proceed to the next stage – which may result in the Northern Isles MP giving evidence in court.

Earlier this month the Election Court in Edinburgh, sitting for only the third time in half a century, heard a preliminary legal debate after four constituents lodged a challenge.

The case is now to be out to a “By Order” hearing to discuss the next part of the trial, including the question of the standard of proof.

Have you seen missing rescue dog Pia in Lerwick?

A woman searching for four rescue dogs that went missing from their Glasgow adopters believes this brown and white Ibizan hound, Pia, may have been spotted in Lerwick.A WOMAN is appealing to islanders to help her track down a rescue dog that has been missing for up to two years and may have been spotted in Lerwick.

Anne Benferri said the dog Pia, a brown and white Ibizan hound, was one of four that were missing from the same Glasgow house where they were rehomed in 2013.

She has been contacted with a possible sighting of a man walking a dog resembling Pia. The dog apparently goes by the same name, is the same age and is believed to have been bought on the Glasgow Gumtree website.

Youth centres’ plea to keep SIC funding

Scalloway Youth Centre, which opened in 1996, will close if the SIC stops funding youth centres. Photo Peter Johnson PartnershipSHETLAND’S youth clubs have been warned they will have to close their doors if the local authority goes ahead with its plan to stop funding them next year.

Three local youth clubs attended a meeting on Thursday evening to give voice to their fears for the future.

Dairy farmers’ “sticking plaster” not enough

A £2.3 MILLION aid package for Scottish dairy farmers has been described as applying a “sticking plaster” when full medical treatment is needed.

The Scottish government and opposition politicians were united in their condemnation of the one-off support payment, announced by the UK government late on Thursday.

DEFRA said the average payment for Scottish dairy farmers could be £2,620 to help with cashflow problems stemming from the current low prices for milk and other produce.

Clickimin pool to re-open ahead of schedule

The pool at Clickimin will re-open on 10 October after the school holidays. Photo SRTTHE LERWICK swimming pool at Clickimin is to re-open on 10 October, its owners Shetland Recreational Trust confirmed on Thursday.

The pool closed two months ago after a bolt fell into the pool from its glazed roof.

Local lass helps create Pink Floyd star's video

Kathryn Spence, from Lerwick, has forged an international career in dance.A SHETLANDER has helped choreograph a new music video from Pink Floyd guitarist and singer David Gilmour.

Kathryn Spence, 26, has forged a successful career in dance since leaving the isles for university in Glasgow eight years ago.

And it culminated recently in the former Shetland resident being headhunted to work on an upcoming video for Gilmour's new solo track The Girl in the Yellow Dress.

Spence was tasked with assisting the choreography for the legendary musician's clip, which was filmed in an underground restaurant in Brixton, London at the end of March.

A quarter of Loganair's 2015 flights delayed

Loganair's Saab 2000 aircraft.ONE IN every four Loganair flights to and from Shetland has been delayed by 15 minutes or more this year – a performance the company itself described as “exceptionally poor”.

The airline’s director of revenue and scheduling Roy Bogle admitted the punctuality of its Sumburgh flights was not good enough – down from 84.1 per cent in 2014 to 75.7 per cent in 2015.

Growing solidarity with Syrian refugees

Syrian Kurdish refugees arriving in Turkey. The conflict in Syria has now the world's largest single driver of displacement - Photo: UNHCR / I. Prickett SHETLAND'S churches have come out to publicly express their solidarity with the hundreds of thousands refugees heading for Europe from their war torn home countries.

Referring to Moses and Abraham, the chair of the Shetland Council of Churches Trust Dr Val Turner said the Christian faith was rooted in stories of migration.

Relay for Life moves to Gilbertson Park

Last year's Relay for Life raised more than £300,000 for Cancer Research UK - Photo: Shetland Relay for LifeNEXT YEAR's Relay for Life will take place on the weekend of 28 & 29 May at Lerwick's Gilbertson Park, organisers of the hugely successful fundraising event have announced.

Over recent years, the bi-annual overnight event has raised record-breaking sums for Cancer Research UK, a charity close to many local people's hearts.

National schemes don't address isles' fuel poverty

Despite being a major energy hub, Shetland households face shockingly high levels of fuel poverty. Photo courtesy of BPA COMMISSION aimed at tackling inequality heard on Monday that more than half of Shetland households feel their insulation is not up to scratch – hampering attempts to reduce the alarming number of islanders living in fuel poverty.

An in-depth study in 2013 by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) first laid bare the extent of the problem, deeming 43 per cent of isles households to be fuel poor, and there is little sign of things improving after a lengthy spell of rising fuel prices and declining pay packets.

Council: UK government must help more refugees

Children at the Shetland Sees Syria vigil earlier this month. Councillor Jonathan Wills said the community's response put the UK government to shame. Photo: ShetnewsCOUNCILLORS from throughout Shetland have issued a strong message calling on the UK Government to do more to help address the global refugee crisis – with one member saying the local community’s response had “shamed” David Cameron’s administration.

Along with all of Scotland’s other local authorities, Shetland Islands Council has agreed to play its part – if required – in housing refugees as part of the government’s vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

Women's Aid: time to 'blow lid off' domestic abuse

Shetland Women's Aid support worker Karen MacKelvie.SHETLAND Women's Aid says it is time to “blow the lid off” domestic abuse on the island, and have invited a world leading expert in violence against women to visit Orkney and Shetland.  

The Shetland service has seen its caseload almost double recently, with programmes constantly “full to overflowing”. Orkney reports a similar problem.

On Tuesday night, a world-leading expert on ending violence against women, Michael Kaufman, will be in the isles to give a talk at the Lerwick Legion at 8.30pm. Entitled 'Raising Our Sons To Be Good Men', he aims to encourage active fatherhood and promote more positive ideals of manhood.

Become a Friend of those with dementia

Dementia advisor Ann Ailliamson: 'If people in the community know more about dementia, they can help others' - Photo: John CouttsAS PART of a nationwide initiative to help communities better understand and cope with dementia, Shetland's dementia advisor Ann Williamson led a one-hour interactive information session for library staff on Friday.

This session was the most recent in a series run by Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends, a government funded initiative, which aims to transform the way people nation think and talk about dementia.

Williamson was keen to emphasise the importance of turning an increased understanding of the condition into action.

Dramatic seal rescue off Sandness

AN ADULT grey seal caught up in a creel rope off Shetland was at the centre of a dramatic rescue at the weekend.

On Sunday morning local fisherman Martin Garrick called out the animal welfare charity SSPCA when he found the female seal off the Holm of Melby near Sandness with a rope tied tightly several times around her neck.