Tuesday 21 May 2024
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Letters / Food for thought

Will those members standing to represent Shetland and Orkney in the upcoming elections commit to backing a private members’ bill so communities can get a slice of the ‘energy pie’ to fund much needed council services?

Fifty years ago, Jo Grimond, the then MP for Shetland and Orkney, stood up in parliament and argued for the retention in the islands of a fair share of the value of the oil coming ashore. And it was 50 years ago that the Zetland County Council Act was passed by the UK Government.

Last week the Green candidate, Dr Alex Armitage shared his vision for doing the same to harness wind power for the financial benefit of the islands’ communities to ensure Shetlanders get a slice of the energy pie, with enough leftovers to maintain hard stretched council services like schools, ASN, roads and respite services.

Alex called on all candidates standing to commit to lodging a private members’ bill to enabling Northern Isles’ control over large energy projects. Will readers agree to call candidates to do this?

Shetland has ‘Betsy’, the most productive wind turbine in the world, with a huge 52 per cent capacity factor (compared to an average of 32 per cent in the rest of the country) making the case that zealous overdevelopment must be controlled by public bodies in the islands’ interests.

In making the case for better home insulation, of which Norway is an exemplar, one member of the audience from Unst said that he only heats the rooms they are using to keep heating costs down. Alex said we can and must do better.

A three-fold vision was shared by Alex to tax the super wealthy, provide a decent universal basic income for all, getting rid of the hierarchical and out of date benefits system, and a four-day working week to support better family time and better mental health for all.

Fresh from speaking to councillor Bridget Smith of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Alex heard that her council have just finished a year’s trial of a four-day working week with 100 per cent salary. They are soon to publish the cost savings and benefits they experienced.

Questions from the floor focused on the detail of how a four-day working week could work.  Alex called on folk to share the message that transformational change can happen if there is a will.

There were many questions from online and in the busy room, with passers-by the room stopping to listen and questions were asked about current resources to fund much needed respite provision for families of disabled and ASD adults.

Compliments to the volunteers who supplied hand-made Shetland fayre for afters, with ginger laced treacle bannocks and tea and coffee, making the whole event hearty and contemplative, with plenty of ‘food for thought’.

Joanne Thomson


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