Press Release: Local MSP Welcomes Wellbeing Levels in Islands (July 26th)

Jean Urquhart MSP has welcomed the latest figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which show that those living in Orkney, Shetland and Eilean Siar have the highest life satisfaction and wellbeing levels in Scotland.

Commenting on the figures, which also show that Scotland has higher levels than both England and Wales, the Highlands and Islands MSP said:

“It came as no surprise to me that those living on Scotland’s islands have particularly high levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction, even when compared to the impressive results across the rest of Scotland.

“When I was in Shetland last week for a constituency visit, I witnessed first-hand these traits. The can-do attitude and strong sense of community across Shetland undoubtedly feeds into this, and there is a lot to be learnt from Island life.

“However, we must not be complacent. As ever, there are issues affecting communities across Scotland, not least due to cuts imposed by the Con-Dem coalition government in Westminster.

“The SNP is dedicated to mitigating the impact of these cuts, and with measures such as our commitments to free personal care, caring for carers, tackling child poverty and fuel poverty and freezing council tax, we will continue dedicating ourselves to improving people’s wellbeing.”

Press Release: Jean Urquhart Enthused By Shetland’s Response To Campaign (July 26th)

Jean Urquhart MSP has welcomed the positive steps being taken in Shetland towards discussions of power being restored to Scotland and its communities.

The Highlands and Islands MSP spent last week in Shetland. Accompanied by MEP Ian Hudghton, Jean visited various local businesses and community groups, as well as conducting interviews with the local press and attending a meeting of the SNP’s Shetland branch.

Commenting, Jean said:

“My particular interest in Shetland certainly started during the last election when I was the SNP candidate. 

“It is very similar in so many ways, with the north-west coast of Scotland where I have lived most of my life. 

“What is particularly heartening is the growth in the Shetland branch of the SNP.

“I accept that Scotland as an independent nation is not the thought on everyone’s mind, and it is the work of the branch members to raise awareness of the important issues that arise.

 “I was particularly enthused by the vitality of the SNP’s branch in Shetland. In the run-up to the referendum on Scotland’s future, it is crucial that our positive message is reinforced across the country.

“Members of the branch will attend National Conference in Perth and I look forward to hearing them speak about Shetland issues from the platform.”

Press Release: Local MSP Reflects on Latest Trip to Shetland (July 26th)

Jean Urquhart MSP was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Shetland during the parliamentary recess and to meet up with old and new friends alike.

The list MSP was in Shetland for a week, and met with various local businesses and organisations to discuss their issues and hear views on the independence referendum. Jean was accompanied by SNP MEP Ian Hudghton for two days, with whom she held a joint surgery and conducted interviews with local press.

As well as meeting representatives from the agricultural, aquaculture, fisheries and gas industries to discuss the work the Scottish Government is undertaking in their respective sectors, Jean had an opportunity to discuss her past business experience with the Shetland Tourism Association and Shetland Federation of Small Businesses. Jean also met with members of Shetland Island Council and attended a meeting of the SNP branch in Shetland.

Commenting on her trip, Jean said:

“I am always pleased to visit Shetland and gain more knowledge about the islands. Shetland’s positive contribution to both the Scottish economy and to Scottish society is one that I am acutely aware of, and continually promote within the Parliament.

“It was good this time to have the chance to catch up with folk that I met as a candidate in Shetland at the last election, as well as to hear more detail on how the Scottish Government can assist Shetland and its key industries.

“The SNP is committed to every corner of Scotland, and it is vital that we continue to listen to all communities and respond accordingly.”

Jean will be returning to Shetland at the end of August and hopes to spend time visiting primary and secondary schools in her role as a member of the Education & Culture Committee- perfectly timed to enjoy the Screen and Book Festival at the end of the week before parliament reconvenes.

Press Release: Local MSP Visits Unique Island (July 25th)

Jean Urquhart MSP visited Fair Isle during her latest constituency trip to Shetland, taking the opportunity to experience one of the region’s smallest and most unique communities.

The local MSP discussed topics such as marine conservation, community enterprise and travel provision for the island.

An added bonus was enjoying “Fair Isle Thursday”, when local folk and visitors come together at the famed Bird Observatory for a ceilidh.   

Commenting on her trip, Jean Urquhart said:

“It was a privilege to have the opportunity to visit one of Scotland’s smallest and most vibrant communities.

“Those who live on Fair Isle really pull together as a community, with many residents performing various jobs on the island and so contributing to everyone’s wellbeing.

 “Of course, Fair Isle’s geography is both a blessing and a challenge, with its environment attracting a unique blend of wildlife which in turn attracts tourists from across the globe.

“We must do all that we can to ensure that conservation efforts which are unanimously supported by those who live on Fair Isle, maintain the bird population for  a stable economy and future generations to enjoy.

“Access to and from the island is vital to sustain the population and attract visitors not only from Shetland mainland, but from the rest of the world too.”

 ENDS

Press Release: Jean Urquhart Highlights Particular Difficulties Facing Shetland’s Dairy Industry (July 25th)

Jean Urquhart MSP has highlighted the additional strains faced by dairy farmers in Shetland as a result of the current dispute over milk costs.

The Highlands and Islands MSP spoke with some involved in the industry during her visit to Shetland last week. Commenting on their difficulties, Jean Urquhart said:

“Shetland’s dairy farmers produce a high quality product for which they deserve a fair price. The cut of two pence per litre of milk due to be introduced in August will leave farmers at a loss a situation that is wholly unsustainable.

“Although this issue is hurting farmers across Scotland, those dairy farmers in Shetland are particularly affected as it is not practical for them to export their milk.

“I believe the loss of Shetland’s dairy industry would be absolutely devastating both socially and economically, and would lead to increased transport costs and environmental damage due to the need for more imports.

“A reliance on imported milk could prove problematic in many ways, and at some point may leave the island without supplies if it ever came to depending on it totally.

“It also makes a nonsense of trying to reduce food miles and attempts to combat climate change when the islands already meet their own demand.

“It is essential that the coalition Government act decisively and increase pressure on the major retailers to recognise the critical nature of this current situation.

 “In my role as Highlands and Islands MSP, I will be seeking to support local dairy farmers as best as I can, and will work with my colleagues in the Scottish Government to save an industry that forms an essential part of Shetland’s social and economic fabric.”

“I will also be writing to the relevant retailers to better understand their thinking with regard to the pricing of milk and the importing of milk, not only in Shetland but across the region.”

ENDS

Motion: Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group’s Seafood Champion Nomination

Date of Lodging: 24 July 2012

Short Title: Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group’s Seafood Champion Nomination

S4M-03699 Jean Urquhart () (Scottish National Party): That the Parliament congratulates the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group on being shortlisted for the Seafood Champion Awards in Hong Kong; understands that the group is one of 15 finalists and that the winner will be announced on 7 September 2012; considers this nomination to be a recognition of the dedication of the Scottish fishing industry to sustainable fishing practices; recognises the importance of fishing to the Scottish economy, particularly to Shetland, where the industry is a major employer and component of the local economy; believes that continued reform of the common fisheries policy is essential for the industry to continue to play this role, and wishes the group success in the future.

Media Coverage: Shetland News Article, July 18th

Centralisation fears unfounded

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 | Written by Iwan McBride |

ISLANDERS have nothing to fear from the Scottish government’s plans to centralise colleges, police and fire services, according to SNP MSP Jean Urquhart.

The highlands and islands list MSP said claims that control over Shetland College would be taken away from the local community were groundless, and the government’s aim was to make better use of resources.

Referring to the reform of police and fire services in Scotland, she added that both would become more democratic under the new set up, having to report to local councils.

Earlier this month it emerged that the local authority run Shetland College could become part of “multi-college region” governed by a regional board answerable to the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

A government civil servant has since assured islanders that Shetland College would not be affected by the proposals, but islanders, including Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, remain “utterly sceptical”.

While on a visit to Shetland this week, Mrs Urquhart tried to squash these fears.

“Shetland College, unlike other colleges in the highlands and islands area, is linked with the local authority. Other colleges elsewhere have independent boards, they don’t have any obligation to have councillors on their boards.

“All and each of these colleges have a particular set of circumstances, and that’s what the minister is looking at. The fear of some heavy hand coming from somewhere else, I think, certainly is as yet unfounded,” Mrs Urquhart said.

“Everything that is done should be to the benefit of colleges, not against their ambition and the courses they deliver locally.

“Whatever discussion that takes place should be about what’s best for the college, and how it is run now.

“All these colleges are part of the UHI network, they want to deliver higher as well as further education, and they all want to get involved in research, and there are benefits for Shetland as being part of UHI.”

Motion: Big Lottery Fund June Awards to Highlands and Islands

Big Lottery Fund June Awards to Highlands and IslandsThat the Parliament welcomes the continuing support given by the Big Lottery Fund to community projects across Scotland; notes in particular that, in June 2012, over £2 million of funding was granted to projects big and small in the Highlands and Islands; recognises the substantial sums awarded to three schemes under the second stage of the Investing in Communities programme in the Highlands and Islands, namely Isle of Luing Community Trust, Golspie Recycling and Environmental Action Network and the SHIRLIE project; understands that these projects aim to develop the Atlantic Islands Centre in Cullipool, create 19 new sustainable jobs and help adults with additional support needs to find jobs respectively; lauds the combination of numerous small grants and larger grants to 49 other projects across the Highlands and Islands in both island communities and small towns and villages; considers these grants to be vital to the existence of such projects in difficult economic circumstances, and looks forward to more projects across the country benefiting from schemes such as the Big Lottery Fund.

Motion: Discovery of the Higgs Boson (July 9th)

Short Title: Discovery of the Higgs Boson

S4M-03594 Jean Urquhart () (Scottish National Party): That the Parliament congratulates the scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider on discovering what appears to be the Higgs Boson, also known as the God particle; acknowledges the huge significance of this discovery for particle physics and an understanding of the universe; notes that the Higgs Boson was first proposed in 1964 by six scientists, including the Edinburgh-based theoretician, Peter Higgs; understands that this Scottish connection to the discovery is complemented by the collaboration in the project of scientists from Edinburgh and Glasgow universities; believes that this discovery justifies a continuing investment in the science and technology sectors, and hopes that the project will continue to inform people’s understanding of the world.