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Also in the news / Star Wars, digital vouchers, ‘stealth tax bombshell’, shop for sale and much more…

A triptych of original movie posters for the original star wars trilogy:

LOCAL Star Wars fan David Leask is hosting a marathon screening of all three original releases in support of Shetland Relay for Life and the Compass Centre/Shetland Rape Crisis.

Each of the three screenings will include a prize draw after the end credits. Prizes include signed photos donated by various Star Wars cast members.

The event will take place at the Shetland Museum and Archives on Saturday the 8 June starting at 10.45am for a 11am screening of the 1977 blockbuster Star Wars.

Part two of the trilogy The Empire Strikes Back (1980) still commence at 2pm, with the final movie, Return of the Jedi (1983), due to start at 5.30pm. They will be shown in their original release formats.

Tickets for the screenings are on sale from the Malakoff shop priced at £9 each, including entry to the prize draw. More information can be found at a special Facebook page here.

CONCESSIONARY ferry vouchers for the north boats have now gone digital, bringing national bus travel and ferry vouchers together on people’s national entitlement card, better known as the bus pass.

Vouchers can be downloaded ahead of travel via the ‘Transport Scot Pass Collect’ app, at a local help spot or at the NorthLink or Pentland ferry terminals.

Transport secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I’m delighted to hear that more than 6,000 people have already collected their digital ferry vouchers.

“By modernising and streamlining the voucher system we’re enabling concessionary users to book journeys more easily and further in advance than before.

“The new system will also mean we can access better data about concessionary travel, giving us more insight and helping to protect the sustainability of the scheme for generations to come.”

THOUSANDS of pensioners in the Northern Isles could be paying income tax for the first time from this financial year as a result of the personal allowance not being increased in line with inflation.

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Isles MP Carmichael has condemned the allowance freeze as a “stealth tax bombshell”.

He said the personal allowance of £12,570 – the rate at which people start paying income tax – should have risen to £15,220 by now.

“These stark figures reveal the stealth tax bombshell facing pensioners under this Conservative government. You get the impression that the Tories are going round every age group in the country and looking for the best way to infuriate them. If that is their goal then they are doing a fine job of it,” the Lib Dem MP said.

“Older people who have worked hard and contributed all their lives are now being clobbered with years of tax hikes. Many elderly people in the isles are already struggling to make ends meet as heating bills and the cost of the weekly shop remain high – this just adds to that challenge.”

THE CHECKOUT shop in Scalloway has been put up for sale with offers over £435,000 invited.

All trade fixtures and fittings would be included in the sale.

The owner is looking to sell the business to a “like minded individual looking to carry on in their stead”, the property listing said.

The listing also highlighted that the shop had an average weekly turnover of around £25,000 last year.

RISSO’s dolphins are present in local waters all year round, new research undertaken by marine charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) has found.

Sightings of Risso’s dolphins have also increased significantly over time, particularly from 2020 onwards. For example, in 2011 there were 75 sightings reports, increasing to 525 sightings reports in 2021.

Shorewatch coordinator Emma Steel said: “Risso’s dolphins are incredible creatures and to protect their long-term future, we need to better understand where they go and how they use different habitats.

“This research wouldn’t have been possible without members of the public getting involved in citizen science projects like WDC Shorewatch, reporting their sightings and sending in photographs.”

She added: “If you are lucky enough to take any pictures of Risso’s dolphins, please get in touch with WDC (northernisles@shorewatch.org) and your images might appear in future revisions of the catalogues.”

THE SHETLAND branch of Cats Protection is on the prowl for new volunteers who could help with a variety of roles including working as its administration team leader, fostering cats, and helping feral cats via the charity’s trap, neuter and return (TNR) programme.

Local branch leader Martha Morrison said: “I’d like to encourage any local people who love cats to consider helping us.

“Volunteering for Cats Protection is a wonderful experience because it gives you the opportunity to be part of a worthwhile cause. The volunteers gain a lot of satisfaction from giving unwanted cats a second chance in life, so if this sounds of interest then please get in touch.”

She said the branch was working hard because for every cat that finds a new home, there are many more waiting to come in.

Anyone interested to get involved is asked to contact the branch by calling 01595 485495 or sending an email to enquiries@shetland.cats.org.uk .

SCOTTISH Sea Farms (SSF), the largest salmon producer operating in Shetland, said it has been making further progress in closing gender pay gap.

Following the acquisition of Grieg Seafood Shetland in 2023 which – according to the company – adversely impacted its position on gender parity, SSF is again making slight advances on the issue.

Head of HR Fiona McCann said: ‘The key takeaway from the latest reporting, as our mean average hourly pay shows, is that female colleagues are paid on a par with their male counterparts – or, as with this snapshot, slightly more.

“While there remains no difference in median bonus pay – in other words, the middle-earning male and female received the same bonus – the simple fact men outnumber women in each pay quartile, including those in which bigger bonuses are often paid, contributed to our mean bonus pay gap widening in 2023.”

Last year, Scottish Sea Farms directly employed 190 men and 37 women in Shetland who earned a combined £14 million per annum.

New appointees Jennifer Sim (left) and Ellen Eunson (right) with head of the Northern Isles team Sheila Tulloch.

LAW FIRM Anderson Strathern has confirmed the appointments of a new director and associate as part of plans to grow its market share across the islands and the north of Scotland.

Jennifer Sim joins Anderson Strathern as an associate, specialising in corporate and commercial law.  Based in the firm’s Lerwick office, Jennifer acts for SMEs, venture capital/private equity funds, investors and family-run businesses in various sectors.

A Shetland native, Jennifer chose the firm as it allows her to combine her professional aspirations with the ability to raise her young family in the place she grew up.

She said: “From a business perspective, Shetland is a very dynamic place to be – businesses are thriving, and large-scale projects are generating excitement on a national level. It’s good to know that my work may have a positive impact on the local economy.”

Ellen Eunson meanwhile joins the firm as an experienced legal director specialising in rural law, covering a broad remit. This includes property sales and purchases, bank security work, succession planning, partnerships, agricultural leases, crofting, and renewables.

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Emma Roddick.

HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed increases in social security payments made by the Scottish Government.

The SNP politician said: “Despite continued cuts to spending on public services from Westminster, the SNP has chosen to prioritise helping those who need it most.

“Social Security Scotland assistance, including the vital Scottish child payment, go a long way in supporting folk across the Highlands and Islands, ensuring families are not living in poverty during these challenging economic times.

“From 1 April, each and every one of these support payments will increase in line with inflation by 6.7 per cent – this is down to the SNP Government taking action to protect household budgets from a Westminster inflicted cost-of-living crisis.”

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