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Also in the news / Local radio station warning, ‘worst budget settlement ever’, Festival of Care, the right to vote

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has warned of the negative impact any cut of the BBC licence fee could have on the cultural landscape of rural Scotland.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

Citing the examples of the local BBC station and the filming of the successful Shetland crime drama, Wishart voiced her support for regional output.

“The BBC is something that belongs to all of us, informing us, educating us, entertaining us, challenging us and enriching our lives not only through its output but by its cultural impact,” she said.

“In the event that Shetland is hit with something similar to Storm Arwen it will be local radio that will be there to relay local help and information. Even to areas that struggle to get basic broadband.

“Local radio stations are truly a lifeline public community service. Is it something we want to risk?”

CONSERVATIVE MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has said he will make a last-ditch appeal to the government’s own MSPs to reject what he described as the “worst settlement ever” for local councils in the Highlands and Islands region.

Ahead of Thursday’s budget debate at Holyrood, the MSP said: “There is deep anxiety across councils in my region about the implications for them from the draft SNP/Green budget.

“Our councils stand to lose millions of pounds which will have a direct impact on the services they provide to the public.”

Both the Orkney and Shetland councils are being given an increase in annual funding that is below inflation and well beneath the average settlement for other local authorities.

“I very much fear that we are facing a ‘double whammy’ of reduced services combined with a big increase in the council tax as councillors try to do what they can to mitigate the funding cut imposed by ministers in Edinburgh,” he said.

THE COUNCIL will soon begin essential maintenance on the linkspan at Laxo ferry terminal, with work scheduled to start on 19 February and last for a period of ten days – although this is weather dependent.

During this time the service will operate to and from the Vidlin ferry terminal, to its regular timetable. Works will commence after the last scheduled sailing on Friday 18 February, until the first scheduled sailing Tuesday 1 March, when ferry services will resume to the Laxo terminal.

Passengers should be aware that there are no designated parking facilities at the Vidlin ferry terminal.

This work to the supporting structures of the linkspan is in preparation for the planned linkspan refurbishment that is also expected to take place at Laxo in April this year. Shetland Islands Council would like to apologise for any inconvenience to passengers.

SHETLAND Islands Council has published the programme for the Festival of Care, which gets under way on Friday 18 February.

One of the key aspects of the Festival of Care is to bring young people, professionals and the public together. All events are free and open to booking by anyone.

Described as “groundbreaking” the  Home and Belonging exhibition at Lerwick Museum will be a central feature of the festival.

More information on the festival as a whole can be found here.

THE ELECTORAL registration officer has written to households in Shetland to appeal to anyone eligible to vote but not yet registered to do so before 18 April.

The council elections are taking place on 5 May this year.

Anyone aged 16 or over that day, resident in Scotland and registered to vote, will be able to vote.

Letters have recently been sent to all properties, listing electors who are currently registered to vote and if they have a postal vote in place.  Anyone not included on that letter can register to vote online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Depute electoral registration officer for Orkney and Shetland Ian Leslie said: “Please check the letter to ensure that you are included and make any registration or postal voting applications before these deadlines.”