Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News: Monday 20th April 2020

CAMERON BACKS NFU SCOTLAND ON CHINESE LANTERNS

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron is backing NFU Scotland’s condemnation of plans for a mass release of Chinese lanterns.

Mr Cameron said:

“My region, which encompasses thousands of acres of heather moorland, is very vulnerable to wildfires, particularly after a spell of dry weather like the one we are experiencing now.

“NFU Scotland are rightly concerned about the possible impact of a release of lanterns on agricultural land and buildings and the threat to animals, not to mention the pressure wildfires would put on our emergency services.

“There are much better ways of showing appreciation of our frontline services and I very much hope that anyone contemplating releasing a Chinese lantern will think again.”

 

CAMERON QUIZZES FINANCE MINISTER AT “VIRTUAL” QUESTION TIME

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has taken the opportunity of a ”virtual” Question Time to question the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, about support for businesses.

Mr Cameron, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, said:

“The job of Parliament, and of shadow cabinet members like me, has to go on notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is very important that the SNP Government’s actions are scrutinised and ministers held accountable. Democracy does not close for the duration of the virus any more than it did during wartime.

“I was pleased to be able to question Kate Forbes as there have been widespread concerns among the Scottish business community about discrepancies between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of business support.

“Specifically, I wanted to press the minister to consider re-allocating funding to improve support for business given various delays announced to other policy initiatives.

 

EASING OF LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

Suggestions that lockdown restrictions could be softened in the Western Isles have received a cool reception by the council and local health board. With the control measures across the UK extended into May, ministers are considering steps for moving into post-lockdown period. A staggered exit with different regions of the country reopening in phases is a possibility hinted at by governments.

Bacteriology expert, Professor Hugh Pennington, suggested a case could be made for an early relaxation of the rules in Western Isles and Orkney due to their low number of cases This must be accompanied by rigorous widespread testing and tracking as well as controlling incoming travel by ferry and plane, he emphasised.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s chief executive, Malcolm Burr, said:

“Until we have all the facts and an opportunity to evaluate them, it would be premature to take a position.

“Our actions remain guided by advice from NHS and Scottish Government, and are based on community safety and protection of life, but we would be interested in exploring any suggestion which demonstrably meets these criteria.

“We will discuss this issue with colleagues in health and Scottish Government, as it is understandably the subject of much comment in Scotland’s island communities.
“Our adherence to NHS and Government advice has clearly been beneficial to our communities to date. Once we have the full facts we will circulate to our Members for discussion.”