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Also in the news / New role for Beatrice, 40mph speed limit to stay, universal credit, call to save water, Swan trip to Whalsay, Community Voices project

LOCAL MSP Beatrice Wishart has been named the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ new spokesperson for rural affairs and connectivity.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News.

Her new party role was unveiled by the Lib Dems’ new leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, who described his team as “cracking with talent and ideas to give Scotland new hope”.

Her role as spokesperson for education has been taken on by former party chairman Willie Rennie.

Wishart is expected to be appointed deputy convener of the rural affairs, islands and natural environment committee next week. She is also a member of the deputy first minister’s cross party Covid recovery steering group.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur speaks for the Lib Dems on justice and the climate emergency.

THE 40MPH limit at the north end of the Viking Energy construction works is to remain in place amid concerns over a lack of compliance.

Roads engineer Neil Hutcheson told a meeting of the Shetland community safety and resilience board on Thursday that the compliance issue stemmed from a perception that the limit was too low.

Shetland’s road safety advisory panel discussed the matter but it was felt the 40mph should remain in place.

This was because the heavy plant exiting the junction there are travelling at low speeds.

The 40mph limit was implemented by Shetland Islands Council as the road authority and paid for by the main wind farm contractor RJ McLeod.

ORKNEY and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has responded to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s analysis of the impact to Orkney and Shetland from the planned £20 cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Scheduled for 6 October, this will be the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the foundation of the modern welfare state and will impact around 5½ million families.

While the rate is lower than the national average, in Orkney and Shetland 2,250 (12 per cent) working age families will be impacted and 1,200 (26 per cent) working-age families with children.

“This is further evidence of the harm we risk by cutting Universal Credit as we are still attempting to recover from the pandemic,” Carmichael said.

“We are in some ways fortunate in the isles to have a lower rate of people making use of Universal Credit than elsewhere, but that still represents thousands of families.

“The rate has been rising and many people will be feeling vulnerable during the current economic climate. This is no time to be cutting support.”

WATER utility Scottish Water is calling on people across Scotland to use water efficiently after storage levels in reservoirs fell to record low levels during the dry summer.

It comes as local people commented that they have never seen the water level at Lerwick’s Sandy Loch so low.

While there is no suggestion of restrictions being imposed, Scottish Water is repeating its call for customers to help protect normal water supplies by using water efficiently in their homes and gardens by:

  • Using a watering can instead of a garden hose because hoses and sprinklers can use about 1000 litres per hour – more than the equivalent of 12 baths;
  • Turning the tap off when brushing teeth
  • Using washing machines and dishwashers only when fully loaded.

Pupils work as a team to raise the Swan’s sails. Photo: Courtesy of Swan Trust

THE SWAN, Shetland’s own tall ship, made a return visit to Whalsay last week to mark the 25th anniversary of her launch as a sail training vessel.

The trip was a chance for local pupils to hear about the days when Swan was a fishing boat in Whalsay.

It also allowed the Swan to undertake a trip similar to her very first voyage following her relaunch in 1996.

Swan trustee John Goodlad said: “After her restoration, the Swan’s first journey under sail was to Whalsay in the first week of June 1996, where she was reunited with several men who had served as crew when she was a motor fishing vessel.

“To mark a quarter of a century as a sail training vessel, we were delighted to welcome the Whalsay secondary one pupils aboard to experience sailing the Swan, and to learn more about their fishing heritage through the Swan and those with connections to the days of the herring drifters.”

The pupils were met at the vessel by Goodlad and former councillor and fisherman Josie Simpson, who spoke about the history of the vessel and the drift net fishing before setting out to sail.

Due to Covid, this has been the first school trip for the Swan since May 2019, with more planned in the coming weeks.

BRESSAY based arts project Curious Pilgrims is calling on local people to share their life experiences during the pandemic.

The new project Community Voices is funded by the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund and supported by Shetland Arts.

“We are particularly interested in receiving short video recordings (using mobile phones as recording devices) as means of sharing thoughts and experiences,” said Renzo Spiteri, co-founder and co-director of Curious Pilgrims.

“We are also looking for contributions through other creative strands, such as writings, photography, drawing, spoken word or any combination of these expressive art forms.”

Creative contributions will be shared online with the wider community through a short documentary that will be presented at the beginning of next year.

More information about the project can be found at www.curiouspilgrims.com or by e-mailing info@curiouspilgrims.com