Letter from Edinburgh

Whose idea was it to have both the Food Festival and the Craft Fair last weekend? It worked.

After the excitement of shopping for the odd Christmas present, it was possible to escape into the bowls hall for a badly-needed coffee and a look around the food stands.

Then, over the tannoy the unmis­tak­able voice of a Yell man was to be heard. Talking about cooking, does Phil Goodlad, in charge of Ready Steady Cook, or as some Bressay men were observing at the weekend, “Ready Steady Run”, know his saucepans from his wok? These are the life-changing ques­tions Shetland needs answers to.

I was really impressed by the range of produce on show in both halls. There was parental interest in one of the Young Enterprise com­panies’ efforts. Revive is an odd name for a company selling a Vik­ing-related board game, but I can only conclude that it reflects the challenge that every 17-year-old faces in getting out of bed to attend studies at the Anderson High.

Down in Edinburgh this week we debated a Patient Rights Bill that doesn’t give anyone any new rights so seems an utterly pointless piece of legislation. And then there was the budget which is difficult for government and opposition alike.

I just sense that people expect the par­lia­ment to get on and sort the problems, provide some answers and give as much certainty around the financial future as possible.

It’s not the current finance min­ister’s fault that there is an election for parliament next year. But it cer­tainly has consequences. The main one is that the Scottish govern­ment only published one year’s figures.

I haven’t seen, at time of writing, any response from our council. But I thought Orkney’s chief executive made a good point when he said that that made planning for the future more difficult.

So I hope that we can convince the current Scottish government that it helps schools, health boards and care homes … and the rest … if people have a reasonable idea what the figures are likely to be over the next few years. That would seem to be only fair to hard pressed public servants in Shetland and across the country.

I had a meeting earlier in the week with the principal of Glasgow University. Funding in budget week for all of the public sector is difficult, and Scotland’s universities and col­leges have been making their case to politicians.

I walked back to Queen Street Sta­tion for the train back to Edin­burgh. Pacing down Sauchiehall Street, I was stopped by traffic lights and while waiting I noticed a fish and chip shop exhibiting its wares on a large sign to entice shoppers.

One really caught my attention. “Fish from the sea” it stated. The sea? Where else do you get fish? Or does it show a worrying lack of basic understanding of nature in the modern world. Maybe investment in our seats of learning has become even more important.

Tavish Scott MSP


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