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News round-up / Broadband contract challenged, SIC staff step up to the challenge, athlete travel scheme, housing survey, amenity trust reflects on year

THE SCOTTISH Government is a facing legal challenge over the awarding of the contract for its roll-out of superfast broadband in the north of the country – leading to concerns it will cause further delays to the project.

The action has come from Gigaclear Ltd following the awarding of the contract to BT.

It relates to the government’s Reaching 100% programme (R100), which ministers initially said would bring superfast broadband to everyone in Scotland by the end of 2021.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “It is now almost certain that the R100 won’t be delivered by the end of 2021, as repeatedly promised by the SNP government. Procurement for the contract has already been a shambles with a series of delays.

“This dispute must been resolved quickly so a contractor can get on with building the broadband infrastructure badly needed in Shetland. It would be unacceptable for Shetland and the rest of the Highlands and Islands to be left behind once again.”

It comes after legal action was also launched against the Scottish Government in relation to procurement of the next Northern Isles ferry contract.

A GROUP of council workers have topped a national step count challenge designed to encourage employees to be more active.

Pictured from left: John Borrill, team captain Wendy Borrill, Louise Johnson, Ann Thomson and Kevin Jones.

Twisted Blisters – team captain Wendy Borrill, John Borrill, Louise Johnson, Kevin Jones and Ann Thomson – racked up 3,626,958 steps, or 1,700 miles, in four weeks.

They beat off competition from 417 other teams from across Scotland to win the autumn Step Count Challenge.

The team put in overtime with their steps before and after work and on weekends, with some even taking annual leave to give them time to boost their step count.

Wendy Borrill said: “It feels great to have won but had we come in anywhere in the top 10, we would have been just as happy.

“I think we just really enjoyed this challenge. We were competitive, but that wasn’t what was driving us. It was more about fitness, maybe weight loss, and motivating each other. There was a great amount of friendship between the five of us and we encouraged each other the whole time.”

Current recipients of funding through the Shetland Athlete Travel Award Scheme: (left to right) Bobby Laurenson, Shay Regan, Katie Dinwoodie, Finn Regan, Adam Millar, Lauren Sandison, Freya Masson and Tom Nicolson. Photo: SIC

THE SHETLAND Athlete Travel Award Scheme is now open to applications.

The scheme offers grants of up to £1,500 to eight successful applicants towards the costs of off-island travel and accommodation for isles-based sportsmen and women to attend eligible sports events down south.

The scheme is currently just over half way through its second year, which has provided funding for eight local athletes – four swimmers (Adam Millar, Freya Masson, Lauren Sandison and Tom Nicolson), two athletes (Katie Dinwoodie and Shay Regan), one footballer (Finn Regan) and one volleyball player (Bobby Laurenson).

Application forms can be found online.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has encouraged local people over 55 to respond to Age Scotland’s housing survey.

The charity wants the views of older folk about their housing needs and energy usage to help shape future government policy.

Wishart said: “It’s important that the survey captures the experiences of people living in Shetland, which can be very different to mainland Scotland.

“Shetland has a high rate of fuel poverty and transport and access to amenities can be a challenge for older people.”

Copies of the survey are available from Beatrice Wishart’s constituency office at 171 Commercial Street, Lerwick or online.

SHETLAND Amenity Trust has released its annual review for 2018/19, with the charity saying it is “confidently emerging with new leadership and a renewed focus on effective governance” after a difficult period of cost-cutting.

Among the highlights presented in the report are the Hans Holbein exhibition, which had 7,625 visitors, while over 100,500 people visited the trust’s various attractions, from Sumburgh Head Lighthouse to the Crofthouse Museum.

During the year over 5,000 trees were germinated for planting and 100 hectares of peatland restoration work was undertaken, which was the equivalent to saving 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The amenity trust also reduced its debt by 12 per cent and saved £57,500 in travel costs thanks to a new video conferencing system.