Events: Climate Challenge Fund Information Events in Lerwick and Kirkwall

Next week, the Climate Challenge Fund team will visit both Lerwick and Kirkwall to discuss how CCF grants can help fund community projects looking to reduce their carbon footprint. So far, the CCF has helped to fund projects that provide energy efficiency advice, the promotion of reducing, reusing and recycling and lower carbon transport, with £44.7 million awarded to 399 different community groups.

The Kirkwall event will take place at the St Magnus Centre on February 7th between 11am-3pm and 6pm-8pm, and the Lerwick event will be held at the Museum and Archives Centre on February 5th from 11am-3pm and 6pm-8pm. The event is free, and any group or individual can drop in. For more information, please visit the CCF events page:

Press Release: Orkney Family Facing Immigration Chaos (June 7th)

Three Highlands and Islands SNP MSPs have decried the rigid and irrational application of immigration rules that could result in an Orkney-based family being torn apart by bureaucratic UK Border Agency Officials.

Mike MacKenzie MSP, Jean Urquhart MSP and John Finnie MSP have all signed a petition calling on the UK Border Agency to let common sense prevail in the case of the Boyd family, who could end up on opposite sides of the world unless urgent action is taken.

Gary Boyd, who was born and brought up in Leith, lives in Orkney with his Australian-born wife, Kristee, step-son Kyle and daughter Nyah, all of whom are currently in the UK on six-month visas.

As Mr and Mrs Boyd lived and worked abroad between 2006 and 2011, the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Visas for Mrs Boyd and her two children lapsed, causing massive complications within a complex and bureaucratic immigration structure that seems incapable of responding sensitively to individual circumstances.

There are self-evident strong ties of the Boyd family (who were resident in the UK between 2004 and 2006 before returning in 2011) to the UK, including strong extended family connections and Mr Boyd’s role within the local community as Depute Head Teacher of Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney.

However, the UK Border Agency’s strict interpretation of its immigration rules would force Mr Boyd’s family to either leave the UK every 6 months and return with new 6-month visas, or require the family to return to Australia, apply for new ILR Visas and wait for as long as it takes for those to be granted.

This would cause massive upheaval for the Boyd family, not least to Kyle who is in the final year of his Standard Grade education.

Mike MacKenzie MSP, who has been assisting the family in their endeavours, commented:

“The abject treatment by the UKBA of the Boyd family, who have contributed so much to their local community, has highlighted the problems of a remote national agency handling discrete cases such as the Boyd’s. Scotland is a welcoming country, and we should not be putting up extra barriers to those who wish to live and work here. The distress already caused by this case to the family involved has been unimaginable, and cannot be allowed to continue.”

Jean Urquhart MSP, who has also been in close contact with the Boyd family, added:

“The inability of the UKBA and the Immigration Minister to respond in a flexible manner risks tearing this family apart for no reason other than going by the book. It is not their fault that immigration rules are so needlessly complex. They should not be punished and have their family life completely destroyed in order to satisfy what appears to be unnecessary box-ticking.”

John Finnie MSP, who has also taken a strong interest in the case, concluded:

“The UKBA needs to show some common sense and recognise that rigidly applying the same regulations to different situations is creating discord and chaos. They must recognise the Boyd family’s particular circumstances and bring this madness to an end by allowing them to re-apply for ILR visas from the UK.”

Motion: 50 Years of the Robertson Trust

50 Years of the Robertson Trust
That the Parliament notes the publication of a report marking the 50th anniversary of the Robertson Trust; understands that the trust, which was established in 1961 by Elspeth, Agnes and Ethel Robertson, is the largest independent grant-making trust in Scotland; notes that, since its inception, it has awarded approximately £125 million to charitable projects across Scotland; understands that it prioritises care, health, education and training and community art and sport projects; welcomes the trust’s funding of 112 projects in the Highlands and Islands over the last year, which, it understands, totalled £1.3 million; recognises that recipients of funding from the trust include Caberfeidh Horizons, which is a second-hand bookshop in Kingussie that provides training and work experience to young adults with learning disabilities, Orkney Alcohol Counselling Services, which provides support to people affected by alcohol misuse and Atlantis Leisure, which is a community-run sports facility in Oban, and applauds what it sees as the trust’s enduring commitment to helping those in most need of support in the current economic climate

Supported by: Mike MacKenzie, John Finnie, Clare Adamson, Kevin Stewart, Jamie McGrigor, Margaret Burgess, Angus MacDonald, Adam Ingram, Liz Smith, Humza Yousaf, John Wilson, Jackie Baillie, Stuart McMillan, Kenneth Gibson, Nanette Milne, Gordon MacDonald, Hugh Henry, Bill Kidd, Joan McAlpine, Fiona McLeod, Rob Gibson, Bob Doris, Mary Scanlon, David Stewart, Roderick Campbell, Willie Coffey, Colin Keir, Sandra White, Christina McKelvie, Anne McTaggart, Colin Beattie, Joe FitzPatrick, David Torrance, Gil Paterson, Annabelle Ewing, Stewart Maxwell, Aileen McLeod, Richard Simpson, Dennis Robertson, Jamie Hepburn, Nigel Don, Chic Brodie, Dave Thompson, Maureen Watt