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News round-up / Ideological decision-making, potholes patching, free energy saving advice, wildlife group funding and scam warning

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael MP.Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.

ISLES’ MP Alistair Carmichael has called the UK Government’s political decision to ignore a EU bulk buying scheme for medical equipment “deeply concerning”.

Despite government claims that the UK’s absence was due to a miscommunication, the foreign and Commonwealth office permanent undersecretary Sir Simon McDonald said: “It was a political decision. The UK mission briefed ministers about what was available, what was on offer and the decision is known.”

Carmichael said: “Sir Simon’s allegation is deeply concerning. If this was a political decision made by government ministers then the public deserve to know who made that decision and on what grounds.

“Ideological decision-making has real world consequences and we are seeing those consequences play out in this crisis.

“We may never know the damage that the government’s choice has caused but we do know now that it was a self-inflicted wound.”

POTHOLES and other road surface defects on many of Shetland’s single track roads will be repaired next month after the council hired a ‘Roadmaster Patcher’ vehicle to carry out mobile repairs.

The vehicle carries a supply of chips and bitumen and can quickly repair small potholes using a robotic arm, without the need for road closures.

An additional benefit at this time is that the ‘patcher’ is operated by the driver from the cab of the vehicle and is therefore Covid-19 safe.

The programme of patching will last for four weeks, starting on the week beginning Monday 4 May.

Locations identified for repairs include:

  • Vementry and Clousta roads in the West Mainland;
  • Swining, Upper Urafirth, Toft and Queyfirth in the North Mainland;
  • Eswick and South Whiteness in the Central Mainland;
  • Lunabister and Vanlop in the South Mainland
  • and the B9082 Cullivoe road, Yell

FREE and impartial advice on keeping energy bills at bay while people are self-isolating at home is available from Home Energy Scotland.

The government agency said householders in Shetland and elsewhere could face higher energy bills as a result of the lockdown, especially if required to work from home using IT equipment.

Home Energy Scotland advice centre manager Alison Craig said: “Many of us will be spending more time at home over the next few weeks and maybe months – and while your top priority will be keeping yourself and your family safe, you might be worried about the effect this will have on your energy bills.

“If you are, or someone you know is worried about energy bills, contact a friendly advisor free on 0808 808 2282, Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm and Saturday 9am – 5pm.”

For the latest information from Home Energy Scotland and top tips for saving energy, visit http://www.homeenergyscotland.org/

NAFC Marine Centre has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to establish a Shetland Community Wildlife Group.

The project will enable local people to get involved in nature, learn new skills, speak to like-minded people and collect meaningful scientific data.

Once the movement restrictions have been relaxed the group will officially be launched to take on larger scale projects such as Shetland wide porpoise surveys.

In the meantime, anyone interested in getting involved in the project is asked to get in touch with Kathryn Allan at   shetlandcommunitywildlife@outlook.com or visit www.shetlandcommunitywildlife.org

Highlands & Islands MSP Maree Todd is warning people to be aware of scams and fake news following an increase in reports across Scotland about scam emails, text messages, and doorstep callers. 

The SNP politician said evidence suggested that fraudsters were increasingly targeting members of the public, as well as organisations of all sizes, with emails, texts, telephone calls, social media messages and online shopping scams relating to the Covid-19 crisis.

“While the community response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Highlands & Islands has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s disappointing to see a few individuals taking advantage of the situation with unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages,” she said

“During this coronavirus crisis, everyone should take extra care to ensure that they only share information from trusted sources, ask for identification from all doorstep callers, and never hand over any personal information.”