Motion: Faroese Withdrawal from Herring International Management Plan

Motion S4M-05462: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 24/01/2013

Faroese Withdrawal from Herring International Management Plan
That the Parliament expresses its concern at the Faroe Islands’ withdrawal from international sharing arrangements for the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock; understands that this withdrawal will result in the Faroe Islands setting its own unilateral quota for the species and that the Faroe Islands has previously withdrawn from international stock management plans for mackerel, which has since led to mackerel being removed by the Marine Conservation Society from its list of fish suitable to eat; considers the future of sustainable fisheries to lie in internationally agreed stock management plans and not in unilateral action, and supports the calls of the Scottish fishing industry, which continues to fish sustainably, for sanctions to be imposed unless all concerned parties can reach an agreed management plan.

Motion: Shetland’s Emily Shaw, Scotland’s Young Ambassador

Motion S4M-05238: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 18/12/2012

Shetland’s Emily Shaw, Scotland’s Young Ambassador
That the Parliament congratulates Emily Shaw, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) on being selected as Scotland’s new UK Young Ambassador; understands that the project gives young people the opportunity to discuss issues that affect them at an international level; notes that, in 2012, Emily has already represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Youth Parliament as well as representing Shetland in her role as an MSYP; applauds Emily’s engagement with and interest in the democratic process; believes that she is a positive role model for young people across Scotland; considers that Emily’s experiences demonstrate the benefits of the youth parliament to young people and Scotland, and encourages young people to get involved in their communities in whatever way they can.

PRESS RELEASE: JEAN URQUHART WELCOMES HOUSING SUPPORT FOR SHETLAND

Highland and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has welcomed the announcement of extra funding for Shetland Islands Council to help the transition from its traditional model of council housing funding.

Following the abolition of the Housing Support Grant from April 2013 for Shetland Islands Council, the last local authority area to receive it, the Scottish Government has reached a deal with Shetland Islands Council to provide £840,000 of funding until the end of the Parliamentary term.

Jean, an Independent Highlands and Islands MSP, said:

“I was delighted to hear that the Scottish Government and Shetland Islands Council have reached an agreement on an issue that was causing concern in the Islands.

“I was equally pleased that the Scottish Government listened to the concerns of local tenants and put in place a package that will help the Council in tough economic times.

“We must now focus our attentions on holding Westminster to their promise of writing off Shetland’s historic housing debt, whose repayments continues to cripple both the housing situation and Shetland’s finances as a whole.”

Motion: Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year

Motion S4M-04441: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2012

Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year
That the Parliament congratulates Amy Garrick, who has just completed a four-year apprenticeship as an electrician with Shetland Islands Council, on being named Scottish Apprentice of the Year; understands that the award is co-sponsored by the Scottish Joint Industry Board and Edmundson Electrical; considers Amy’s victory to be of particular relevance, given the low number of female employees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector, as highlighted in the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s report, Tapping all our Talents; acknowledges the potential for Amy’s victory to encourage more women to explore careers in the STEM sector, and wishes Amy and her fellow nominees success for their future careers.

PRESS RELEASE: JEAN URQUHART WELCOMES SCHOOLS FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT

Jean Urquhart MSP has welcomed today (Wednesday’s) announcement from the Scottish Government of £80 million to fund the building of new school campuses across Scotland, including projects in the Highlands and Islands.

As part of the third and final phase of the Schools For The Future Programme, Anderson High School in Lerwick, Elgin High School and Inverness Royal Academy will all receive funding for much-needed improvements, allowing them to begin construction in the next 12-18 months.

In total, 12 schools have been given funding to allow them to begin construction in the next 12-18 months, changes that will benefit 26,000 pupils nationwide.

Jean, a list MSP for the Highlands and Islands region, said:

“It’s great to see schools in sore need of new facilities being given the funding they need to begin construction as soon as they can.

“I know from correspondence I have received from pupils and parents of these schools just how necessary these changes are.

“Elgin High School pupils actually sent me a DVD chronicling the challenges posed by their current building, showing just how much this investment in new schools was needed.

“This investment in the future of our children will pay off in the short term, the medium term and the long term for both the pupils and the wider community.”

Motion: National Geographic Recognition of Fair Isle

National Geographic Recognition of Fair Isle
That the Parliament notes the inclusion of Fair Isle, the most southerly island in the Shetland Islands archipelago, in the National Geographic’s Top Ten Islands in its publication, The 10 Best of Everything; understands that Fair Isle is described as a “wild and wonderful place” home to “hundreds of thousands of birds”; considers the inhabitants of Fair Isle, who it considers work hard to maintain the island’s community and to welcome visitors, also to be worthy of recognition; further considers Fair Isle to be of vital natural and scientific importance, particularly with regards to ornithology, and welcomes the international recognition for what it considers one of Scotland’s most geographically isolated and beautiful islands.

Motion: Shetland Knitwear

Shetland Knitwear
That the Parliament welcomes the £220,000 investment by Laurence Odie Knitwear Ltd (LOKL) in new machinery and an expansion of its workforce; notes that £76,650 of this has been provided by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and £10,950 by Shetland Islands Council; understands that this is as a result of increasing demand for LOKL’s produce from across the world; acknowledges what it sees as the worldwide popularity and commercial viability of Shetland knitwear, which is worth approximately £3 million to the area’s economy every year; considers this to be a welcome boost to Shetland in times of economic difficulty and a demonstration of the islands’ diverse workforce, and believes that any steps taken to preserve and promote culture and heritage are to be lauded.

PRESS RELEASE: JEAN URQUHART HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUED “FAILURE TO REPRESENT” SHETLAND

Jean Urquhart MSP has described the Westminster government’s latest act of ignorance towards the needs of the people of the Shetland Islands as “another failure of representation at the highest level”.

It was reported today in the Shetland Times that Shetland Islands Councillor Allison Duncan buttonholed  Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury,  for the coalition’s failure to deliver on a previous promise made regarding housing debt.

The Council, at the behest of the previous Tory government, had built dozens of new houses to host incoming oil workers, with then-Chancellor Ken Clarke promising to write off a £40m housing debt incurred by the Islands- a promise that was never fulfilled.  

Councillor Duncan noted that Mr Alexander seemed particularly “uncomfortable” and unfamiliar with the issue when, during the conversation, a “very discouraging” letter sent by Mr Alexander to the Council regarding the debt was raised.

Mr Alexander’s reticence is all the more striking given his previous calls for Highland Council housing debt to be wiped out by Westminster in 2010.

Ms Urquhart, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said:

“This latest chapter in the LibDems’ involvement in the Coalition saga only deepens the impression of a party out of touch with its principles and its constituents.

“LibDems, who waited a century to regain power at Westminster, have proven to be toothless in representing rural Scotland, including Shetland, which have gone for so long without a strong, local representative on the Westminster government benches.

“Although they were not part of the Westminster government that initially pressed for the building of houses, they are part of the Westminster government that can help deliver on an old promise.

“The most basic element of an MP’s job is representing the interests of their constituency and constituents. In these tough economic times for the Council, how long will it take for the Coalition’s Chief Whip to fulfil this duty for his constituency?

“Or, as with fuel duty, are the LibDems simply providing cover for Tory ineptitude while delivering little for those who trusted them with power?”

PRESS RELEASE: JEAN URQUHART CHALLENGES TAVISH SCOTT OVER LIB DEM FUEL INACTION

Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has expressed her disbelief at Tavish Scott’s comments in the Shetland Times on fuel prices, describing him as “detached from reality” and questioning just what the Liberal Democrats have done on fuel prices as part of the Coalition Government

Jean’s comments came as the Lib Dem MSP for the Shetland Islands acknowledged that it was “obviously not fair” for Shetland motorists to spend, on average, £250 more a year on fuel than those in Aberdeen, and demanded answers as to why Shetland motorists pay so much more.

Jean said:

“If Tavish really wants to see fuel prices reduced, perhaps he should have a word with his Liberal colleague in the Northern Isles, Alistair Carmichael.

“After all, Alistair is a key part of a Conservative-led Coalition Government that has consistently ignored the SNP’s calls to introduce a Fuel Duty Regulator that would help to alleviate the appallingly high fuel prices in rural communities.

“Just this week, the French Government have struck a deal with fuel producers and distributors to cut the cost of fuel by 6 eurocents per litre for three months, showing that

“The Liberal Democrats are continuing to show that, despite taking the Conservatives’ thirty pieces of silver to form a Coalition 2 years ago, they are delivering little for the Islands and not giving their constituents the strong representation that they deserve.

“They are little more than a politically neutered human shield for an uncaring, Conservative-led Government that continues to treat its most remote communities like dirt.

“I look forward to Tavish joining the SNP in calling for decisive Coalition action on fuel prices.”

Motion: Saltire Housing Awards 2012

Saltire Housing Awards 2012
That the Parliament congratulates the award winners from the Saltire Housing Awards 2012; welcomes the record number of submissions received for the awards; understands that 14 projects were given awards, with a further four receiving commendations; notes that the awards covered the length and breadth of Scotland, with seven of the awards and one of the commendations going to projects in the Highlands and Islands; further congratulates the Highlands and Islands-based architect firms that were successful, including Skye-based Dualchas Architects, winner of what is considered the prestigious 2012 Saltire Medal, Skye-based Rural Design Architects, winner of the 2012 Innovation in Housing Award and Shetland-based Richard Gibson Architects, winner of both an award and a commendation; considers the intelligent use of sustainable design in many of these projects to be a template for the future, and hopes to see this innovative approach to architecture continue.