A team from the TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent visited Orkney yesterday in the hopes of finding the winner of the latest series.
Two visiting casting researchers from the television programme held auditions at the Just Dance Studio at Hatston, Kirkwall, yesterday afternoon before setting up for an open microphone event in Stromness’s Ferry Inn in the evening.
Teams from the programme, now entering it’s ninth series, have been holding casting events in locations outside the country’s major cities, with casting researchers also visiting Shetland, Stornoway and various others. The overall winner of the programme goes on to perform at the Royal variety performance and receives a cash prize.
The researchers visiting Orkney, Jake Court and Sophie Brown, explained that at this stage no judgements were being given on the hopeful acts although each was being filmed so that footage could be taken and reviewed at a later stage.
Jake said: “This is the first time the show has ever done a regional casting call and the idea is to cast the net far and wide, leaving no stone unturned in the hope of finding a hidden gem.”
Scotland’s Island Councils and Local Government Minister Derek Mackay, held a discussion this week on the way forward for the Our Islands Our Future campaign and the Scottish Government’s prospectus for the Islands Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities.
The group discussed the potential for the Smith Commission to devolve powers enabling the delivery of the prospectus including devolution of the revenues from all Crown Estate assets in Scotland, including leasing income from the foreshore and seabed.
Minister for Local Government Derek Mackay said: “Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities is the most comprehensive package put forward by any Government and sets out how island communities could have greater control over their local economies and natural environment.
“The extension of the powers of the Scottish Parliament is essential to allow our prospectus to be delivered to the benefit of communities in all 93 of Scotland’s islands and our coastal areas.
“The Scottish Government submission to Lord Smith’s Commission proposes the full devolution of the revenues from all Crown Estate assets in Scotland, including leasing income from the foreshore and seabed which we would then allocate to island and coastal communities.
“I was pleased that the leaders of the Island Councils confirmed their support to this approach and I look forward to further engaging with the Our Islands Our Future campaign to work towards securing these benefits for communities in these unique areas.”
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Councillor Angus Campbell, speaking on behalf of Our Islands Our Future, said: “This was a very good meeting and took forward our aspirations under Our Islands Our Future. We have always said that whatever the outcome of the referendum we would seek to take forward those parts of Our Islands Our Future and the respective Government responses that could be taken forward. This will require commitment and ongoing work and we have started that process with this first post referendum meeting.”
Local police are appealing for information after an alleged assault took place in Kirkwall’s George Street at around 3.40pm on Monday October 27.
They are also appealing for information after an incident occurred in Tesco Supermarket in Kirkwall yesterday, at around 12.45pm
Anyone with information relating to either incident is urged to contact Kirkwall Police Station on 101.
A diver from the local dive boat Radiant Queen was transferred to hospital yesterday, Tuesday, after getting into difficulties in Scapa Flow.
A Coastguard spokesman said that they were first contacted around 9.30am yesterday morning, informing them of the incident.
Stromness Coastguard Rescue Team was tasked to Houton to meet the boat, to assist in the transfer of the diver to an ambulance, before it took the patient to the Balfour Hospital.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has called for improvements to be made in provision for those in the islands who suffer from poor mental health.
During a debate in parliament yesterday to mark World Mental Health Day, Mr McArthur highlighted the specific challenges facing those with mental health problems living in rural and island communities and argued that more could be done to assist those going in or coming back from a period in hospital.
Mr McArthur commented: “One in four people in this country suffer from poor mental health at some point in their life. Almost all of us in Orkney will know someone who has been or is affected. Yet the sad fact is that mental health still does not enjoy the same level of priority as the treatment of physical ill health.”
He added: “All the evidence shows that there are specific problems facing those in rural areas, where the stigma associated with admitting to a mental illness can be greater. I know there are also concerns locally around a lack of ‘transfer’ beds at the Balfour for those who may require a spell in hospital on the mainland. Likewise, there have in the past been instances of poor discharge planning affecting patients returning to Orkney.
“While those involved in the mental health team in Orkney carry out excellent work, there is an opportunity with the move to a new hospital and the further integration of health and care services in the islands to look at how the needs of those with mental health issues can be addressed more effectively. Ultimately, there can be no good health without good mental health.”
Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has spoken about the need for governments, regulators and the private sector to work together to secure grid connections for Orkney and Shetland.
Speaking at the Green Investment Bank conference this week, Mr Carmichael explained that any failure to act on grid issues post-referendum would be a “missed opportunity of tragic proportions”.
Mr Carmichael also highlighted that since the Coalition Government came into power in 2010, renewable electricity capacity has more than doubled across the UK.
Speaking at the event on grid connections, Mr Carmichael said: “Last year the coalition government also announced a specific strike price for Scottish Islands which will help to unlock their renewable potential.
“That was a welcome and necessary step and it established an important principle. It provides, however, only a mechanism for supporting generation capacity once it is installed.
“Without grid connections for the islands we shall never see that capacity installed and the potential for the generation of tidal and wave power will not be realised — or at the very least it will not be realised here.”
Work has begun on a new mooring pontoon for Stromness Lifeboat on the South Pier in Stromness Harbour.
Stewart Taylor, Lifeboat Operations Manager for the RNLI in Stromness said: “For some time we’ve been aware of the need to improve access to the lifeboat for the crew and for visitors to the boat. Presently they have to board via a vertical ladder which can be tricky in poor conditions and at low tide. This is especially true for the boat’s mechanic who has to transport large objects such as 20 litre oil drums and tools to the boat for maintenance.”
Mr Taylor added: “The RNLI is working with OIC to install a floating pontoon in the lifeboat’s current berth. This floating pontoon will be connected to the pier and will rise and fall with the tide. Access to the pontoon and the boat will be by a walkway connected to the pier at one end and the pontoon at the other.”
This is a similar design to the berthing system used at other RNLI stations such as Longhope and Kirkwall.
The work is being carried out by McLaughlin & Harvey and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has responded to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) into armed policing.
The report, published yesterday, agreed with the Chief Constable’s proposals for armed officers only to attend incidents involving firearms or a threat to a life. This followed concerns from local communities across Scotland who had learnt through the media that armed officers were attending routine duties.
Mr McArthur said that communities will expect Police Scotland to accept the positive recommendations.
Commenting on the report, Mr McArthur added:
“I am not surprised at the findings of this report by HMICS. There has been a systematic failure by Police Scotland to communicate to the public the fundamental change in armed policing policy.”
“Constituents have been highlighting to me their concerns about this practice, as stories emerged in the press about armed officers turning up to routine incidents. It is simply unacceptable that the decision to enable armed officers to overtly carry sidearms in such circumstances was not subject to robust scrutiny prior to its introduction on day one of the new national force.”
“I have always been clear that there is a correct time and place for armed police in Scotland. I am pleased that HMICS has supported the recent u-turn that ensures officers with guns should only attend incidents involving firearms or a threat to life.”
On this topic, reassurances were also heard from a police spokesman at a Stromness community council meeting held last night. He confirmed that there would not be cases of armed police officers in Orkney attending routine duties.
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