Delight as Shetland Islands receives £53,000 for kids’ summer activities

SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands Emma Roddick has expressed her delight as Shetland Islands Council is set to receive £53,000 from the Scottish Government to encourage children to play and socialise as part of the recovery from the pandemic.

Councils across Scotland will receive a share of £15m to support summer activities that are already in place in certain areas.

The support will specifically target those aged up to 25 from low income households who may otherwise struggle to access such experiences during the holidays.

£5m will also be distributed among prominent Scottish children’s charities such as Barnardo’s and Who Cares Scotland.

Commenting, Emma Roddick said:

“I am absolutely delighted at this investment in Shetlands’ children and young people, who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic as they have not been able to meet up with friends or play the sports they love.

“Coming out of the pandemic young people have told us that their mental health will be a priority and the SNP Scottish Government has listened to them and is investing in summer activities.

“This will have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of our young people, which will be extremely important when coming out of lockdown and into recovery.”

New Highlands and Islands MSP makes Shetland first regional visit

Emma Roddick in Shetland

New MSP Emma Roddick, who won a Highlands & Islands list seat for the SNP last month, arrives in Shetland today to consult council leaders and local residents about the community’s welfare during recovery from the pandemic.  The three-day tour marks her first official visit since being sworn in at Holyrood.

First call for Scotland’s youngest MSP will be Lerwick Town Hall to hear from council leader Steven Coutts and deputy leader Emma MacDonald about the SIC’s priorities.

After her discussions with the council, the 23-year-old MSP is set to meet with Hjaltland Housing Association, Shetland Women’s Aid, and Ability Shetland.

The MSP’s surgery is in Islesburgh Community Centre tomorrow from 2-4pm.

Ms Roddick said:

“Because of the pandemic, it was impossible to visit during the election campaign, so Shetland is the first stop on my tour of the vast region that I now represent.  People in isolated island communities have suffered badly from the unavoidable Covid restrictions.  Now that we’re moving into recovery, it’s vital that MSPs stay in touch with what’s happening on the ground, so we can advise the Scottish Government on what’s needed here.” 

“People should be able to afford to stay where they have grown up, especially in the Highlands and Islands.  It’s absolutely central to the concern about depopulation in the region.”

On meeting with Shetland Women’s Aid: “I’ll be discussing with the staff the best way to address the difficulties we face in tackling violence against women in Shetland and other island communities. This is an issue very close to my heart.”

“I am looking forward to holding my first MSP surgery in Lerwick on Saturday, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet with community activists and Leaders of Shetland Islands Council. It is crucial to maintain open and active lines of communication among MSPs and local leadership, especially as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

WATCH: Roddick calls for housing policy reform

In a Member’s Business Debate put forward by Neil Gray MSP on the recently-published Social Justice and Fairness Commission report, Emma Roddick argued that we “cannot rely on the goodwill of landlords”, pushing for further regulation of the private rented sector.

She also pointed out that, due to Right to Buy, properties intended for affordable rent have since been sold off to absentee landlords, meaning tenants pay hundreds more in rent per month than their next-door neighbours, claiming “that is neither just nor fair”.

She celebrated the Social Justice and Fairness Commission policy to offer local authorities first refusal at the market rate when ex-Right to Buy properties are put up for sale.

You can watch the full contribution below:

WATCH: Roddick calls for end of ‘sexual infidelity’ defence to murder

One of the Scottish Parliament’s new members is calling for a change in the law to stop jealous killers literally getting away with murder.

Emma Roddick MSP has called on the Scottish Government to use the opportunity presented by a Scottish Law Commission discussion paper to abolish the partial defence of ‘provocation by sexual infidelity’. This defence enables those charged with murder to be convicted instead of the lesser offence of culpable homicide and so escape a mandatory life sentence.

Under the current law, a person charged with murder can have that charge reduced if they are able to demonstrate that the killing was provoked by a belief that a partner had been sexually unfaithful. Ms Roddick believes that this defence represents the values of centuries past and has no place in modern Scotland.

Shortly after asking a question on the matter in the Parliament, Ms Roddick said:

“The defence arose originally to enable a man who killed another man after discovering that man having sex with his wife to escape the gallows. Shockingly, it continues to exist despite the abolition of capital punishment and has even been expanded to apply in a much wider range of circumstances.

“I am glad the Scottish Law Commission is looking at the various aspects related to the mental elements of homicide. This area of the law is long overdue for reform and the continuing existence of this outdated and unjustifiable partial defence shows that.”

In its discussion paper, the Scottish Law Commission states that the ‘provocation by sexual infidelity’ defence is “based historically upon the concept of possession and an insult to a man’s honour”. The modern test for the application of the defence is whether “an ordinary man, having been thus provoked, would have been liable to react as he did”.

You can watch the question and Keith Brown MSP’s answer below:

MSP welcomes Carse investment

Following a public meeting on Thursday 3rd June, SNP MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed progress on the Carse Hub at Muirtown Basin, Inverness.

Work has already begun on the low-carbon Treehouse facility, the first phase of Scottish Canal’s Carse Hub project, which will provide space for social enterprises and community greenspace within its office development and improve public access to the canal footpath.

Roddick said:

“Living in the Carse, I know how welcome these plans will be for the local community. The number who attended on Thursday evening to hear more from Scottish Canals and raise questions showed just how much interest and appreciation there is.

“During lockdown, I think we have learned to be more protective of our green spaces, so I’m glad that this development will improve access to the canal area and the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve, both of which many people enjoy using daily.

“I am very excited to see how this project progresses over the coming months.”

WATCH: Highlands and Islands MSP highlights mental health in first speech

In her first speech in Parliament on 1st June 2021, Emma Roddick addressed the ongoing mental health crisis that is especially acute in the Highlands and Islands, drawing attention to the fact that loneliness and isolation are an ongoing problem in rural communities and warning that these issues cannot be ignored during the recovery period.

You can watch the speech below:

Ms Roddick said:

“I strongly believe that we need to get real about the things which are making people ill in the Highlands and Islands: lack of transport, lack of affordable housing and jobs, and lack of the right mental health services in the right places.

“This is an issue across Scotland, but the three areas with the highest suicide rates in the country are in the Highlands and Islands.

“We can use lines about Orkney and Inverness being the happiest places in the UK to brag to and bring in tourists, but that outlook is of no comfort to the people looking lonely out their window at the scenery, considering whether or how to take their own life. 

“As we recover from one pandemic, we underestimate the magnitude of the other one at our own risk.”

Addressing her predecessor, Maree Todd, Ms Roddick called on her to improve the lives of women by tackling shortcomings in NHS services in Scotland and in rural communities in Todd’s new role as Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport. She said: 

“I’m glad not to have to say any goodbyes to the person who held this seat for the SNP before me, as Maree has been returned as a constituency MSP and moved to the Health brief in government, which comes with enormous opportunities.

“I hope that during our health recovery she will take those opportunities to tackle shortcomings in treatment and management of endometriosis and menopause, in trans healthcare, and in access to abortion which is free of obstruction and harassment.”

New MSP uses first Parliamentary motion to raise homelessness and debt issues

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, Emma Roddick, has used her first Parliamentary motion to highlight that, while action was taken during the COVID pandemic to protect people from eviction and sudden loss of income, many were suffering before the outbreak.

She has asked the Scottish Government to look into whether any extra protections can be made permanent to protect people from homelessness and debt indefinitely.

She said: “I hope that more people are now aware that most of us are just one or two months of unemployment or one eviction notice away from being in a very difficult situation.

“Many people suffered evictions and income insecurity before the pandemic hit us in 2020, and many will continue to once we have recovered.

“We have to keep in mind that essential workers aren’t just essential during a pandemic, evictions aren’t just life-changing during an pandemic, and unfair dismissals aren’t just unacceptable during a pandemic.

“Let’s capitalise on the empathy and understanding developed in this incredibly difficult year and look to create a country which is supportive and prevents homelessness and debt where possible, regardless of whether there’s a virus circulating.”

SNP MSP welcomes Social Justice and Fairness Commission’s Housing paper

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed the publication of the Social Justice and Fairness Commission paper, describing its housing proposals as “groundbreaking”.

The paper, published on Tuesday morning, considers many issues including the challenges rural Scotland faces in losing housing stock to second homes and holiday lets, and proposes a range of policies to tackle these alongside the SNP Scottish Government’s commitment to build 100,000 new affordable homes.

One section suggests “providing local authorities first refusal at market rate when ex-council houses are placed on the market or, when this is not practicable or desired, allowing only those who intend to use the property as a residence the opportunity to purchase”.

Ms Roddick said:

“There is a lot to celebrate in this paper for any person interested in ensuring a future for Scotland which puts social justice and fairness at its heart, but I’m particularly interested in the benefits its housing proposals could bring to the Highlands and Islands.

“Right to Buy and absentee landlords created the housing crisis we face today, but buy-to-let and the explosion of second homes in the region is making it so much worse. People seeking homes to live in rather than assets to invest in are being priced out.

“It is fantastic to see real proposals to tackle these issues and, in turn, depopulation.

“To offer local authorities first refusal at market rate, or only offer ex-council houses to people who intend to live in them, is a groundbreaking proposal which could bring back some of the housing stock we lost thanks to Thatcher’s policy of selling them off.

“We have a long way to go in improving housing options, from building more homes for social rent and improving rights of private tenants to levelling the playing field for young people in the Highlands and Islands looking to purchase a home. This paper is a great place to start.”