Holyrood Highlights - 17.06.22

Ahead of another busy week ahead, I spent Monday catching-up on casework in the constituency office in Kirkwall.  During the afternoon I also held a further meeting with the Scottish Ambulance Service to discuss the support for first responders in the isles as well as land ambulance provision on the mainland and linked south isles.  I was pleased to hear that a second ambulance is now staffed through most, but not all of the week.  This is certainly an improvement, though I would like to see this extended still further.  I then held a meeting with Cllr Heather Woodbridge on the latest situation with healthcare cover in the north isles, which has been a concern, particularly in relation to Eday, North Ronaldsay and Papay.  While I was not in Parliament on Monday, I was delighted to see Orkney was well represented in the Chamber with a group from Dounby School competing in the EuroQuiz Final.  I'm looking forward to hearing about their trip to Edinburgh when I visit Dounby School next Monday.

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Holyrood Highlights - 10.06.22

Over the weekend I enjoyed watching the long-awaited return of Junior Intercounty competition in the brilliant Orkney sunshine.  On Saturday, Orkney were out in front after a dominant display in the athletics followed by a gripping and highly entertaining 0-0 draw in the hockey (including two very big ‘proud uncle’ moments as Emily won the 800m and Ella showed great stick work on Orkney’s left wing).  Day two of JIC, however, saw Shetland make a triumphant comeback, first in the swimming and then the football, before Orkney's netballers served up a knife-edge win to round off the contest.  Sadly, it wasn't enough to overtake Shetland with the final score Orkney 142 - Shetland 158.  However, it was an excellent weekend of sporting competition with lifelong friendships no doubt formed.  Here’s to a more positive result in the Senior Intercounty later this month.

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Holyrood Highlights - 27.05.22

This week started in the Kirkwall office with the usual series of calls with parliamentary colleagues and my office to discuss the week ahead.  I spent the rest of the morning catching-up on casework and making calls to constituents.  Later in the afternoon I had a number of meetings beginning with parliament’s Non-Government Bills Unit who are supporting my proposed Members Bill on Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults.  After an overwhelming response to the consultation at the end of last year, I hope to be in a position to publish a report on the consultation when parliament returns after the Summer recess, paving the way for lodging the bill formally early in 2023.  I then had a call with Mark Pauley from LINK, who has been investigating the case for retaining a cashpoint in Stromness town centre in light of the imminent closure of the Bank of Scotland branch.  I am hopeful this will be LINK’s recommendation, based on Mr Pauley’s site visit and discussions with local businesses and members of the community in Stromness.

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Holyrood Highlights - 22.05.22

The week began in Edinburgh after staying down to accompany my son, Tom, who was competing at the British Junior Powerlifting championships in Solihull.  Despite being the youngest competitor in his class, Tom did brilliantly, achieving PBs in all three categories (squat, bench press and deadlift).  Thankfully, there wasn’t a dad’s competition!

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Holyrood Highlights - 13.05.22

The week began in the Kirkwall office where I had my weekly calls with parliamentary colleagues and my office team to look at the week ahead.  Later in the morning I had a virtual meeting with Naomi Bremner and Anne Byers to discuss proposals for developing the internal air services in order to build resilience and attract/retain population in the smaller isles.  I plan to use the ideas as the basis of a portfolio question in the chamber next week.  The rest of the morning was spent catching-up on casework and making a calls to constituents.

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Holyrood Highlights - 06.05.22

Over the weekend, it was a pleasure to be invited to take part in the ceremony to mark the formal reopening of St Peter’s Kirk, Eastside, South Ronaldsay.  It was an occasion for sharing many personal memories about a special place (and sharing a rather special cake afterwards too!).  I’m delighted that such a wonderful building with a fine history now has a bright future secured, thanks to a partnership forged between Historic Churches Scotland and the Friends of St Peter’s Kirk.  You can find out more about the kirk and future planned events here.

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Holyrood Highlights - 29.04.22

The week began in the Kirkwall office where I had my weekly calls with parliamentary colleagues and my office to look at the week ahead.  Later in the morning I had a meeting with Greg Whitton and Nikki Linklater from CloudNet Solutions to discuss the R100 voucher scheme and rollout of superfast broadband.  It was helpful to hear about the work CloudNet has been doing in developing a network for residents in Papa Westray and the scope the company has to help ensure more extensive broadband coverage in Orkney.

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Holyrood Highlights - 22.04.22

Parliament returned this week after the Easter recess break, during which there’s always the chance for a spot of ‘island hopping’.  So it was that last week I headed first south to Flotta and then north to Westray for surgeries and meetings with local residents.  Days spent in the isles are always good for the soul, although Westray was notably quieter than usual due to a spike in Covid cases that had folks understandably wary about venturing out and about.

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Holyrood Highlights - 01.04.22

This week started in the Kirkwall office with the usual series of calls with parliamentary colleagues and my office to discuss the week ahead. I then had a meeting with senior representatives Bank of Scotland to discuss the closure of the Stromness branch later this year. The planned closure of the last bank in Stromness is undoubtedly a blow to the local community. Unfortunately, it seems clear that the decision to close the branch will not be overturned. However, I was keen to stress that there are issues regarding ongoing access to services for businesses and personal customers that still need to be addressed, such as the case for retaining a cashpoint facility in the centre of town. I will continue to press Bank of Scotland on these issues and encourage anyone directly affected by this closure to get in touch.

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Holyrood Highlights - 25.03.22

This week started in the Kirkwall office with the usual series of calls with parliamentary colleagues and my office to discuss the week ahead. My first meeting of the day was with Robert Leslie from THAW to discuss growing concerns about the impact of energy cost increases on rates of fuel poverty locally, as well as the need for clarity around the future funding of THAW, which provides invaluable advice and support to vulnerable households in Orkney. You can find out more about THAW here.

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