Kate Forbes is spearheading a UK-wide campaign to ban plastic straws because of the danger they pose to onshore and marine environment, has called on supermarkets to ditch plastic straws from their stores.

The MSP spoke out the day after Asda became the first UK supermarket chain to pledge to remove plastic straws from their shelves and also replace them in their store cafes with paper alternatives.

Ms Forbes has written to all of the supermarket chains, and urged retailers to stop stocking plastic straws on shelves and in any cafes.

Already the Scottish Parliament, ScotRail Alliance, CalMac, several councils and public bodies have backed her Final Straw campaign.

Items like plastic straws can take up to 500 years to decompose, despite only being used for less than half an hour.

Tomorrow (7 February) she is expected to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament chamber as MSPs debate how to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “Asda’s decision to eliminate plastic straws from its cafes is brilliant news.

The constituency MSP for Lochalsh has welcomed news from the Royal Bank of Scotland that it will keep its Kyle branch open until at least the end of the year.

At the end of last year Kate Forbes MSP made a fact-finding visit to the branch, which had previously been earmarked for imminent closure, and met with regional manager Paul Dykes as well as local staff.

Along with Ian Blackford MP, Ms Forbes had been expressing firm opposition to bank bosses, and the Lochalsh MSP also led a Scottish Parliament debate on the closure of banks in rural areas.

The Kyle branch has almost 2,500 customers, and last year saw 25,000 transactions. If the closure had proceeded, the nearest branch would have been over 30 miles away in Portree.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “This is tremendously good news for the communities of Kyle.

“There has been such a lot of hard work since RBS first announced the branch closures in early December.

“I led a debate in the Scottish Parliament calling for RBS to reconsider these decisions and highlighting the detrimental impact on rural businesses and communities in particular.

An army veteran is aiming to walk the entire coastline of Britain.

Sam Doyle is raising awareness for veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)  His walk took him to the Isle of Skye in early January.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has joined the campaign to boost internet safety for young people – after pressure from fellow SNP MSPs Kevin Stewart and Gillian Martin led to Snapchat removing primary schools from their search function.

Marking Safer Internet Day, local MSP Kate Forbes backed this action and called on Snapchat to go further and also remove secondary schools from its search tool – which allows strangers to find and watch videos from these locations.

And Ms Forbes is also encouraging pupils across the Highlands to take part in a nationwide film competition that aims to raise awareness of the dangers related to sending nude photos online.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: “I appreciate the efforts made by my SNP MSP colleagues Gillian Martin and Kevin Stewart that have made Snapchat safer for children all over the Highlands and Scotland – and I hope that Snapchat go even further and remove secondary schools as well.

“Parents should speak with their children to make sure they know how to stay safe online and understand the risks of posting certain information – and I am glad to be involved in the campaign to raise awareness of this serious issue.

“The upcoming nationwide film competition is a great initiative that gives children across Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch the opportunity to engage with these dangers in a creative manner

“And Tuesday’s (6 February 2018) parliamentary debate brings this issue to the forefront and highlights the increasing risks when sharing personal information online.

“We must all do what we can to help protect our children when it comes to their online activity.”

Police are reissuing an appeal for the whereabouts of missing Scot Mackenzie from Portsmouth.

The 58-year-old went missing from the Tipner area of Portsmouth on the morning of Monday 15 January.  Scot may have travelled to Scotland and has connections to the Wick, Avoch, Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness areas.

It has been more than three weeks since Scot’s disappearance, and officers have carried out a number of lines of enquiry to locate him. He still remains missing, and we continue to urge members of the public to keep an eye out for him.

Scot is known to have visited Lloyds Bank on Commercial Road in Portsmouth at around 1.45pm the day he went missing. We have released CCTV images which show him in the bank before he exited, turning left along Commercial Road and walking past Boots. This is the last confirmed sighting of Scot.

He has been described as white, approximately 6ft 2ins tall, medium build, with grey receding hair. He was last seen wearing a green jacket.

Anyone with Scottish paper £5 and £10 notes has less than four weeks before they are withdrawn from circulation. 

The Committee of Scottish Bankers is encouraging the public to spend or exchange these notes before 1 March.

Issuing banks will still accept all Scottish money from customers after the deadline and paper notes may be replaced with plastic ones.

This deadline coincides with the withdrawal date for The Bank of England's paper £10 note.

A spokesperson for the Committee of Scottish Bankers said: "Thanks to the work that the issuing banks have already undertaken to swap the older paper notes with the more secure, environmentally friendly polymer notes, the majority of £5 and £10 notes have already been replaced with polymer. 

"We have set a deadline for using paper £5 and £10 notes as 1st March. The Scottish note issuing banks will continue to accept old paper based notes and there are currently no plans to change this."

Ian Blackford has been raising awareness of a Scottish Gas discount scheme.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is available to constituents in Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

Ian Blackford says: "Warm Home Discounts are still available for Scottish Gas customers this winter, but you should apply as soon as possible. The scheme allows some applicants a rebate of £140 off their electricity bill.

"If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income and meet Scottish Gas’s criteria for the scheme you may be eligible. You can also qualify if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

"This discount is only available in limited numbers so please check soon on www.britishgas.co.uk/warmhomediscount or call 0800 072 8625 or 0800 294 8604 if you are a Pay As You Go Energy customer."

A leading Highland MSP has welcomed Community Land Scotland’s desire to reverse the trend of depopulation in the Highlands.

Last week CLS published a report on the subject, which called for land that was previously lived and work on to be repopulated – an issue that Kate Forbes MSP has previously highlighted.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has been one of the most vocal politicians about the need to reverse depopulation across the Highlands.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “The current planning system has a lot to answer for in terms of restricting rural regeneration.

The full results from the Glenbrittle Forest 10-mile Trail Race 2018 are as follows:

1. Murdo Mackenzie (1 hour, 4 minutes and 49 seconds)
2. Norman Ferguson (1:09:52)
3. Angus Murray (1:12:24)
4. Stephen Macdonald (1:14:45)
5. Dave Canning (1:14:55)
6. Niall Till (1:20:31)
7. Lesley Campbell (1:20:36) 1st lady
8. Sam Crowe (1:23:24) 2nd lady
9. John Coghill (1:27:27)
10. Heckie Cormack (1:27:49)
11. John Esson (1:28:14)
12. Alison Macdonald (1:28:39) 3rd lady
13. Phil Seddon (1:33:57)
14. Clara Connell (1:38:19) 4th lady
15. Amy Cunningham (1:43:21) 5th lady
16. Becky Milne (1:46:06) 6th lady

The out of hours service at Portree Hospital was temporarily suspended from 8pm this evening (Saturday 3 February.)

The service is based at the Minor Injuries Unit/Urgent Care Centre at Portree Hospital.

NHS Highland say the decision was made following ongoing staffing pressures. The MIU will reopen between 8am and 6pm on Sunday 4 February before being closed again until 8am on Monday 5 February.