In response to the Shetland Island Council decision last Monday concerning the future of Promote Shetland one may wonder what do I and my brother Gradon, as Stamfordians, in south Lincolnshire, about 600 miles south, know and enjoy about Shetland?
We both know that the Shetland Amenity Trust have been doing a very good job in providing us and many other interested followers worldwide an excellent webcam coverage, without which our interest in Shetland would be very limited if not non-existent.
I did enjoy two memorable weeks each on Foula and Unst way back in1974. With such a heritage interest I was delighted to find such excellent webcam coverage, which enables us to view many interesting sights of island life including beautiful skies, aurora, seascapes and wildlife.
We also enjoy Tom Morton's Saturday evening Beatcroft Social, which incidentally celebrates its 1st year of broadcasting this week, lots of very interesting web posts & blogs on the 60 North Media platform, about both the history & current life in Shetland, a very interesting 60 North quarterly magazine, promotion of wool, food, fishing, tourism & many other island industries, all of which would no doubt have great difficulty in thriving without such coverage of the "Heritage of Shetland".
There are also many other spheres to the skills of the Shetland Amenity Trust, which was started and devotedly encouraged by the late Jimmy Moncrieff, who would be turning in his grave if he knew what these three council officials are trying to do last Monday.
With respect, what we don't but would like to know is how three council officials were able or allowed to overturn an earlier decision that secured a further five year's funding for such a devoted and hard working Promote Shetland team, in such a briefly held meeting, when they gave themselves less than sufficient time to consider the evidence and views that had been presented to them at that time.
Why? Why is this allowed to happen in such an undemocratic fashion in what is meant, surely to be a democratically run country?
Their decision was backed by their statement that they want less emphasis on heritage, claiming that they felt the Shetland Amenity Trust team had done as much as they could to promote Shetland's tourism, and that they wanted now to encourage more people to move to and live in the island group.
How, we ask, does anyone, some of whom without the SAT's hard work would never have heard of Shetland?
How, we ask, can residents, young or older be attracted to Shetland when the islands don't appear to have sufficient infrastructure, including housing, to support those who are already there?
How, we ask, can a suitable level of employment be provided for both existing and new residents if what is surely one of the Islands' modern prime industries, tourism, cannot be successively encouraged by a Promote Shetland team that has the expertise and experience?
Am I not right in recalling from my days of studying economics and other business studies subjects, the effects of "the multiplier", in that the more tourism that is encouraged, the more may well be spent in the islands, the more potential there may be for employment for Shetland residents.
In this age of technology, am I also not right in thinking the more Shetland is promoted on the internet, the more internet and mail orders of Shetland's merchandise are likely to develop, resulting in more potential employment, and so on?
Applying the same principle, the more Shetland's heritage is made know by such a devoted Shetland Amenity Trust team, more tourists are likely to be enticed to Shetland, leading to more potential employment, living accommodation, etc.
My brother, Gradon, for his part, set up a petition last week with change.org as soon as he learnt of such devastating prospects for Shetland Amenity Trust. This has already attracted more than 2,300 supporters, and still increasing. Many thanks, Supporters.
Finally, what we would all like to know is will the Shetland Isles Council officials PLEASE ALLOW THEMSELVES ADEQUATE TIME TO READ, DIGEST AND FAITHFULLY CONSIDER the contents of the petition, open letters and other support via social media and possibly otherwise?
At least we may have some hope in now learning that they have agreed that "the Tender is still open for a new contract"...
Let us hope, please council officials you are not as radical as you appear to have been so far in awarding the "new contract", bearing in mind so many of us very much enjoy the heritage of Shetland.
Thanking you, in hopeful anticipation,