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Also in the news / Palestine donation, MS Awareness Week, crofters’ disappointment, Carmichael on centralisation and more…

A GROUP of local artists who organised a week long pop-up exhibition in the Toll Clock shopping centre have raised more than £10,000 in support of the work done by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

One of the organisers, Jean Urquhart, said: “Folk, artists, makars and buyers responded well, and today we will send the sun of £10,072,55 to the charity.

“We are delighted and so are they.”

MAP works with Palestinian communities to provide locally led healthcare and medical aid to those affected by the current conflict.

Lerwick Town Hall flying the MS flag on Monday. Photo: SIC

THE MS flag was flying from Lerwick Town Hall on Monday to mark the start MS Awareness Week.

The local branch of the MS Society said the coming days are a chance the to raise awareness of the condition and speak about the realities of life with MS.

More people in Shetland are being diagnosed with MS which also means family members and friends are affected.

The charity said that last year’s successful fundraising efforts had helped raise the profile of the local group and the services and help it provides as well as raising much needed funds.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We put out a regular newsletter. Letting people know what we do, also letting folk know who is on the committee keeping things running.

“We have new people who are helping us with their particular skills and interests – we are always welcoming of anyone else who feels they can assist.”

More information about the local group can be found here, or e-mail shetland@mssociety.org.uk

THE SCOTTISH Crofting Foundation has said it is “extremely disappointed” with the lack of ambition in the government’s Good Food Nation Plan, which has been out for consultation.

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The crofter’s union is calling for the document to be sent back to the drawing board to enable a real plan focusing on strengthening Scottish producers and short supply chains.

SCF chair Jonathan Hedges said: “We strongly urge more emphasis on local food from short supply chains. We believe that this has the potential to delivery higher quality.

“Local food also supports the economic and social wellbeing of rural areas and can reduce the environmental impacts of our food system.”

He added: “While lamb and beef production are often attacked from the rewilding and health perspectives, they are an important source of protein that can be produced sustainably in ways contributing to positive environmental outcomes.” “Red meat definitely does have its place in a Good Food Nation and this should be explicitly acknowledged.”

As it stands, the plan is insufficient to honour the present efforts of Scottish producers to feed the country, let alone to achieve the wider transformation required, the SCF claimed.

ISLES MP Alistair Carmichael has claimed that Scottish Government centralisation means public services have become worse the further away they are from the Central Belt.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

Speaking at the UK Parliament’s Scottish affairs select committee on Monday, the Lib Dem MP also spoke on the ability of communities to play on the “creative tension” between the UK and Scottish governments.

“I look at the absolute shambles that is CalMac at the moment and the fear for me is that the Northern Isles may just be ten years behind unless we learn from what has happened on the west coast,” he said.

“You only learn from those mistakes if you engage with the community and you have a government that listens to what the community says they need, rather than what the government thinks they need.”

Responding to a question on spending by the UK and Scottish governments in Scotland he added: “The creation of a spaceport at SaxaVord is strategically important initiative for the whole United Kingdom, so of course it should be given funding from the UK government – and if there is any funding coming from Edinburgh, we’ll take it very cheerfully from them too.”

HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has lodged a parliament motion to discuss the role wood burning stoves play in rural and island communities.

“In my own home in Orkney, we were once left without power for five days because of extreme weather, and the only source of heating and cooking we had was our wood-burning stove,” the Conservative MSP said.

“I know many people across the Highlands and Islands will have found themselves in a similar situation.

“That’s why the Scottish Government’s decision to effectively ban wood-burning stoves in new homes shows how little they understand the needs of rural and island communities.

“I urge MSP colleagues from right across the Parliament – including from the governing parties -to recognise the urgency of this issue and to support my motion.”

Meanwhile the MSP has also wished young people luck in sitting their exams.

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