In brief for 24 June 2010

Africa needs help

INTERNATIONAL aid agency Oxfam is urgently calling on the people of Shetland to support their emergency appeal for West Africa.

Oxfam is launching a £7 million appeal to help more than 800,000 of the 10 million people across the region who are facing severe hunger and malnutrition because of drought, poor harvests and rising food prices.


Campaigns manager Malcolm Fleming said: “We are witnessing an unfolding disaster which can be averted if we act quickly. The next harvests are several months away and people are already desperate. People are eating leaves and drinking dirty water. 

“Unless we can raise money for this we will be forced to turn our backs on those most in need. That is why we are calling on the people of Shetland, at a time when we know money is tight, to dig deep into their pockets to help those in the most dire need. Just a small amount will make a huge difference. For £20 you could feed a family for ten days.”


To donate: text ‘DONATE’ to 70066 to give £5; click www.oxfam.org.uk/emergencies; call 0300 200 1999 or go to any Oxfam shop.

New to board

TWO new members have been appointed to the health board in Shetland – emergency nurse practitioner Norma Laurenson and consultant in public health Susan Laidlaw.

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced the appointments on Wednesday.

Mrs Laurenson already chairs the board’s area partnership forum while Dr laidlaw chairs the area clinical forum.

Board chairman Ian Kinniburgh said: “I know both Norma and Susan are held in high regard by their colleagues across the disciplines, and their input to discussions both at board and committee level is welcomed and valued by us.


“They have both shown their commitment to improving healthcare services in Shetland over a number of years and are well placed to ensure the voices of all staff are heard and considered during the decision making process.”


Holiday let tax

AS OPPOSITION to the coalition government’s first budget builds, northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael has highlighted the help it has given the self catering industry.

Mr Carmichael said scrapping Labour’s plans to increase tax on furnished holiday lettings would save more than 4,500 jobs across the UK.

“In areas such as the northern isles where tourism is an important part of the local economy, it is clear that Labour’s planned tax hike would have hit hard and put additional pressure on jobs,” he said.

“The decision to scrap the FHL tax rules will provide the tourism industry in the northern isles with a real lift.”

“It is the private sector that will play the key role in securing the economic recovery and the measures announced yesterday will make it easier for businesses to create the jobs the UK needs.”



Last rites

THE SCOTTISH government on Wednesday claimed to have administered the “last rites” to the Tahtcher government’s ‘right to buy’ legislation.

MSPs debated the Housing Bill which will end the right to buy for social housing in Scotland once it comes into force.

Housing minister Alex Neil said: “The Housing Bill effectively means that the last rites have been given to right to buy.

“Over a ten year period that could mean up to 18,000 houses being saved for social renting that otherwise would be lost, the equivalent of three years’ worth of new supply in the sector.”

More than 500,000 homes have been sold in Scotland under the scheme over the past 30 years.