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Also in the news / Latest Covid figures, Unfair delivery charges, Bergen flights, Damage at school, ‘Missed opportunity’, Pupils secure funding, Wishart welcomes farming board, Professorship awarded

THE PREVELANCE of Covid in the local community continues to be well below the national average although infection rates are rising in all NHS areas.

The latest government figures released at 2pm show that just one of the 4,925 new Scottish cases were located in Shetland.

However, the 7-day incidence rate population for Shetland is now 126.8 per 100,000 population, well below the Scottish average of 480, but higher than in previous weeks.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

ISLES MP Alistair Carmichael has once again called on the UK Government to intervene politically to protect people living in the north of Scotland from excessive and unfair delivery charges.

A briefing from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) has put the extra cost to Scotland at £44.8 million, with the north and northeast most affected.

Carmichael said it is an extra tax on island life. “The latest figures restate what islanders have known for a long time – that we are getting a raw deal on delivery charges,” he added.

“The government has a role to play in protecting people from delivery price gouging. It can do so through tax incentives to provide a universal service obligation – as the Royal Mail does – but this requires some political will from those at the top.

Advice Direct Scotland has an online form for people to report unfair delivery charges, with information passed on to the relevant authorities for further investigation.

SHETLAND’s only international flight connection to Bergen, in Norway, is to resume from next May as Loganair announces an ambitious flying programme for 2022.

Travellers can now book seats across 73 domestic and international routes the airline plans to operate next year.

The company said it is also introducing a second Glasgow to Sumburgh service on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays.

Loganair’s chief commercial officer Kay Ryan said the airline is one of only two passenger airlines in Europe which are flying more in 2021 than they did in 2019.

Loganair chief commercial officer Kay Ryan said: “We’ve already taken great steps to rebuild our network after the pandemic, and we’re looking forward to consolidating this progress over the year ahead.”

POLICE are looking for information after a metal storage shed in the Brae Primary School playground was damaged.

The incident took place between 6pm on Monday 16 August and 8am the following morning.

If anyone has any information to assist Police Scotland contact 101 or attend Lerwick Police Station.

AVIATION union Prospect has described a minister’s visit to the Western Isles without discussion the hugely controversial plans of removing valuable air traffic controller jobs from island airports as a “missed opportunity”.

The union’s chief negotiator David Avery expressed disappointment after it was confirmed that transport minister Graeme Dey would not be using a two-day stay in the Western Isles to hear concerns about the remote towers project.

“It disappointing that the minister did not use this opportunity to speak to air traffic staff and local communities about the impact of HIAL’s remote towers plan on individuals and on the economy of the islands,” he said.

“Ultimately the Scottish Government have the power to step in and force a rethink on these plans, and it is incumbent on them to listen to the serious concerns that have been raised.

“This missed opportunity makes it even more vital that the minister takes the next available opportunity to meet with Prospect and local politicians to engage with our concerns.”

PUPILS from three local junior high schools have been successful in securing a total of £9,000 for local charities Ability Shetland, Yell for Cancer Support and Shetland Church of Scotland.

The grant funding comes from the Wood Foundation’s youth and philanthropy initiative (YPI), which is committed to helping young people to identify social issues impacting their communities and the charities addressing them

The pupils from Aith, Mid Yell and Baltasound junior high schools have been learning of ways of support for those facing health disability conditions, services to address mental health and wellbeing, and action to tackle poverty.

The scheme sees groups of school children make a presentation in the hope of winning votes – for funding – for their chosen charity.

Wood Foundation UK director Ali MacLachlan said: “We are incredibly proud of the dedication and commitment shown by schools and students to ensure this important learning and funding opportunity continued with such vigour despite all the challenges of the school year from Covid-19.

“We have been blown away by many of the presentations and have great hope that our young people are an exciting force for change.”

Professor Roxanne Permar. Photo: Private

VISUAL artist and educator Roxanne Permar, a research fellow in the centre for island creativity based at Shetland UHI, has been given the title professor of art and social practice in recognition of her interdisciplinary social and creative research and her contribution to education.

Originally from Pennsylvania, professor Permar moved to the islands to teach sculpture at the then Shetland College in 2001.

Since then, she has continued to teach and was instrumental in creating the fully online MA art and social practice programme for which she is programme leader. She exhibits her work internationally and her research focuses on engaging with people to address social concerns.

“I am thrilled and proud to receive this important title. I have always seen art and learning as a way to bring about social change. I believe art can stretch our imaginations, build self-esteem and enhance a sense of ownership in all aspects of our lives,” she said in reaction to being awarded the professorship.

Principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands professor Todd Walker said: “The title of professor is the highest level of academic achievement which can be awarded. It is reserved for individuals who are recognised as leaders in their field and who have demonstrated excellence in their work.”

Professor Permar will give a free public seminar on Monday 25 October on International Artist Day.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed the creation of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB), which is tasked with developing new proposals for sustainable farming.

With climate change high on the agenda in preparation for the COP26 conference in Glasgow later this year, the sector is tasked with reducing its own carbon footprint while facing up to new competition from Australia, Japan and Canada as Britain negotiates bilateral trade agreements following Brexit.

“The isles have unique circumstances, approaches and cultural links to agriculture. We must ensure these voices are included at all stages of policy development,” Wishart said.

“As we move toward CoP26 and reaching our targets on cutting carbon emissions the agriculture sector must be consulted and brought along with future policy. It will be important to ensure that the voices of Shetland farmers and crofters are heard.”