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News round-up / Whalsay vandalism, new Samaritans director, Safer Internet Day, fuel poverty strategy, water rebate call

POLICE are asking the public for their help in investigating an alleged incident of vandalism at the primary school in Whalsay.

A motor vehicle is said to have been driven on a grass area within the school grounds, and a bin was ripped from its fixed mounting, overnight from 28 to 29 January.

Anyone with any information that could assist the local police force with its investigation is asked to call telephone 101 or go along Lerwick Police Station.

SHETLAND Samaritans has appointed Wilma Goodlad as director of its local branch.

Paying tribute to the outgoing director John Thomas, Goodlad said: “Under John’s lead, Shetland Samaritans ensured that is was able to operate safely throughout the pandemic, continuing to answer phones and emails from Linda Rose House, Charlotte Street in Lerwick.

“I’m delighted to be leading Shetland volunteers as they continue to work very hard to be there for everyone who contacts us.”

As well as listening to callers, Shetland Samaritans also visits secondary schools to talk to young people about the importance of positive emotional health, as well as promoting emotional health in the community.

THIS year’s Safer Internet Day is taking place today (Tuesday), with the theme focusing on knowing what to trust online and how young people can separate fact from fiction.

Locally the day is supported by the Shetland Public Protection Committee.

Committee chairman Tam Baillie said: “The place of social media in everyone’s lives has intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is especially so for young people, with less social contact than normal as a result of the restrictions that have been in place. Everything online isn’t always what it seems and fake news, paid advertising, filtered images and misinformation can make it hard to trust what you read.”

Educational resources for Safer Internet Day 2021 are available for parents, carers and professionals working with children and young people of different ages here.

NORTHERN Isles politicians have called on Scottish ministers to re-start the work on a fuel poverty strategy “as a matter of urgency”.

MP Alistair Carmichael and Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart have written to local government secretary Aileen Campbell to highlight the “ongoing failure to address high levels of fuel poverty in the Highlands and Islands and the lack of clear direction or urgency on tackling fuel poverty in the region”.

Wishart said: “We urgently need some clarity from the Government on how they plan to tackle the high levels of fuel poverty in communities like Shetland.

“The current plan of attack from the Government is to pause the central piece of work which would help those in the long term.”

HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has called for a one-off £100 water tax rebate for households in Shetland to help tackle the cost of living crisis caused by the pandemic.

Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is calling for “excess cash” at Scottish Water to be used to deliver a one-off £100 water tax rebate for every household in Shetland, benefitting 10,389 households.

“It is time the hard-pressed families of Shetland got money back from this obscene cash stash,” she said.

“It is clear that water customers across Shetland have been overcharged for years and they need the money in their household budgets at this time, not sitting unused in Scottish Water’s bank vaults.”