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Turnaround helps SIC to top up reserves

SIC finance chief Jonathan Belford.SHETLAND Islands Council topped up its oil reserves rather than taking money out of them for the first time since the 1990s in the last financial year.

The milestone resembles a remarkable turnaround in the financial position of the local authority, which in the early part of this decade was drawing down tens of millions of pounds a year to balance its books.

A report to Wednesday’s meeting of the full council from finance chief Jonathan Belford set out how a total of £5.75 million was contributed to the reserves “due mainly to one-off capital receipts and one-off fortuitous additional income and underspends”.

HNP asks SLAP for more time to vacate site

HNP's building on the SLAP-owned Commercial Road site. Photo: ShetnewsHNP ENGINEERING is urging Shetland Charitable Trust’s property arm SLAP to give it more time to move to new premises after the landlord served notice that it may take legal action to evict the local engineering firm.

Following a long-running dispute, HNP is now in the advanced stages of purchasing a workshop building at the Lower Blackhill industrial estate in Lerwick – allowing the company to vacate the SLAP-owned Commercial Road site it has occupied for around half a century.

HNP – which employs 16 people – says it received a legal letter from SLAP last week stating that it would apply for a court order to recover possession of the property if HNP has not vacated the site by Saturday (28 May). 

Jailed for a year over 'grave' child porn videos

A MAN from Mid Yell who admitted possessing child pornography videos of an “extremely grave nature” has been sent to jail for just over a year.

Sam Hesketh, of 6 Burra Park Road, previously admitted permitting indecent images of children to be taken between 3 May and 5 June 2015.

Jail for assaulting heavily pregnant woman

A WOMAN from Lerwick who racked up a catalogue of alcohol-fuelled offences including the assault of a woman who was more than eight months pregnant has been sent to jail for nearly three years.

Sarah Irvine, of 28 Hoofields, appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to be sentenced having previously admitted a number of charges.

'Legal highs' to be outlawed this week

THE LOCAL police force and NHS Shetland are reminding islanders that “legal highs” will be outlawed from Thursday (26 May).

Once the Psychoactive Substances Act comes into force, it will be an offence to produce, supply or offer to supply any legal highs in the UK.

Tug debacle should never be repeated

Lessons have been learned from the embarrassing history of Shetland's two new tugs, now sold to the port of Naples.SHETLAND Islands Council should never repeat the failings that led it to spend £14 million on two defective tugs from an inexperienced Spanish shipyard, a report to councillors this week has said.

The report highlights an extraordinary catalogue of failings surrounding the purchase of Solan and Bonxie in February 2011.

In the past few months the council managed to sell the two tugs to an Italian port for around half their purchase value, while claiming they had actually made a £70,000 profit based on the work the vessels had carried out during their brief working life in Shetland.

SIC “discriminating” against disabled youth

Disability Shetland committee members Sandy Peterson (left) and Kenny Groat ready to tackle the West Highland Way - Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News SHETLAND Islands Council has been accused of discrimination after halving its support for youth clubs for disabled children, while maintaining support for mainstream youth clubs.

Publicly-funded youth club services for disabled kids have already been outsourced to the local charity Disability Shetland, which now runs a number of well-attended clubs across the isles.

Instant support for victims of sexual violence

Shetland Rape Crisis project worker Linda Gray: 'surprised by how taboo this subject still seems to be' - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsSHETLAND's first dedicated rape support service will formally launch in Mareel's screen two and upstairs bar on Tuesday afternoon, with presentations and a short film on offer.

Shetland Rape Crisis is based in Lerwick's Market House and it will provide support, advocacy and information for anybody aged 13 and over who has been a victim of sexual violence.

Husband admits seriously assaulting wife

SENTENCE on a 57-year man from the island of Yell has been deferred until 6 July after he admitted to two charges of seriously assaulting his wife at the couple's home.

Appearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Monday, Karl Maguire, of Reafirth House, Mid Yell, pled guilty to assaulting his wife by throwing bottles at her, and presenting a knife, or a similar instrument, at her whilst threatening to kill her, on 31 December 2011.

Islands minister maintains pledge to cut ferry fares

New transport and islands minister Humza YousafNEW transport and islands minister Humza Yousef has pledged to reduce ferry fares on the northern isles lifeline route in his first statement since taking on his new role this week.

In a statement issued on Friday, Yousaf said the new SNP-led Scottish government was “committed to…taking action to reduce fares on ferry services to Orkney and Shetland”.

His comments came as campaigners for lower fares requested a meeting with the new minister to encourage him to act swiftly on his pledge.

“A spree not to be missed”

The Revellers performing at the 2015 Shetland Folk Festival Photo Dale SmithHI-JINX folk rockers The Revellers will launch their second album later this year with their biggest headline show yet at Lerwick’s Clickimin Leisure Complex.

Fans will be given the chance to buy the septet’s new studio effort Skeletons for the first time at the gig, which is being held on 24 September.

SIC to abandon island school closure plans

Symbister junior high school on Whalsay will keep its secondary pupils assuming councillors back officers' recommendations to retain S1-4 on the island.SHETLAND Islands Council has acknowledged that it has to address “poor perceptions” of its schools service after officials recommended abandoning plans to cut pupil numbers at junior high schools on Yell and Whalsay.

The consultation report, published on Thursday, 20 months after the process began, reveals almost unanimous rejection of proposals to reduce or remove secondary education from the two islands.

Government faces huge fine over subsidy failures

New rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing is under pressure to sort out the mess around delayed subsidy payments for crofters and farmers.SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott has called on the Scottish government to “sort out its mess” after a critical Audit Scotland report revealed it could face a fine of up to £125 million for failing to pay agricultural subsidies on time.

The government has come under heavy fire for delays in paying tens of thousands of farmers and crofters basic CAP payments after their new £178 million IT system malfunctioned.

In its latest report published on Thursday, the public spending watchdog said the new computer programme was “unlikely to deliver value for money” and had been plagued by “confused governance”.

New grocery shop adds International Taste

The International Taste grocery shop opened on Monday - Photo: Chris Cope/ShetNewsSHETLAND's first grocery shop dedicated to selling food to the islands' growing community of East Europeans has opened its doors in Lerwick.

International Taste opened on Commercial Street on Monday and it sells products from countries such as Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Romania and Hungary.

Continued uncertainty over strike price

THE UK Government has confirmed that it has not made up its mind yet on whether to allow a 'remote islands strike price' subsidy in the next auctioning round for large renewable energy projects, likely to be held in December.

The delay in getting EU state aid clearance for such a subsidy, designed to enable island based renewable energy project compete with UK mainland based developments, have left local projects in limbo.

Laggan-Tormore a ‘triumph’ for the industry

UK energy secretary Amber Rudd addressing the Laggan-Tormore inauguration ceremony at the Shetland Gas Plant on Monday - Photo: Mike Grundon/BBCUNLOCKING the gas fields to the West of Shetland has been described as a "triumph" by the UK energy secretary Amber Rudd during a visit to the Shetland Gas Plant.

The secretary of state was the guest of honour at the inauguration ceremony on Monday of the £3.5 billion pound Laggan-Tormore project, on Monday.

Shetland Gas Plant officially opens

Shetland Gas Plant started production in early February 2016 - Photo: TotalTHE UK Government secretary of state for energy and climate change, Amber Rudd MP, will be in Shetland today (Monday) to be present at an event to celebrate the inauguration of the massive Laggan-Tormore West of Shetland gas project.

French energy giant Total (60 per cent) and partners DONG (20 per cent) and SSE (20 per cent) have spent around £3.5 billion to unlock the two gas fields, which are located in around 600 metres of waters to the west of Shetland.

A chance to help ‘Shaping Staney Hill’

PUBLIC consultation on Lerwick's Staney Hill housing development will get under way this weekend with an exhibition opening at Clickimin as well as the Toll Clock Shopping Centre.

Hjaltland Housing Association is planning to build up to 400 houses on the exposed site overlooking Lerwick to help meet the demand for housing in the town.

Little appetite for islands’ strike price

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael.CONFIDENCE in the Scottish islands renewable industry is at an all time low after it emerged that a formal application for state aid clearance of the 'remote island CfD' subsidy has not been made yet.

A higher guaranteed price for green energy generated in the northern and western isles – known as strike price - is seen as one of the pre-conditions for the renewables industry to take off.

A number of onshore wind farm projects, including the 103-turbine Viking Energy project in Shetland, are waiting for the subsidy arrangements to be cleared by Europe.

Dairy could fold if support doesn’t pick up

Shetland Farm Dairies manager Gerry Byers 'you either use it or lose it' - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsTHE MANAGING director of Shetland Farm Dairies has warned that if sale figures for local milk don't pick up the islands' small dairy industry might be gone in five years time.

Gerry Byers said the Gremista-based factory has lost around 20 per cent of business over recent months as hundreds of oil workers have left the islands, as well as due to the increased import of cheaper mass-produced milk by local supermarkets.

Pensioner sent ‘vile’ letters to Muslim MP

A SHETLAND pensioner who admitted anonymously sending "vile" letters to MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh about her faith will learn his fate in June.

David Crozier, of 8 Smuggabank, Mossbank, admitted at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to sending messages containing offensive and abusive comments aggravated by religious prejudice from his home between 23 May and 26 May last year.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie opened by highlighting the 68 year old's apparent "eccentricity", saying that he was a "somewhat reclusive" man who "doesn't entertain modern technology".

SCT moves to reduce council trustees

Just ten of the currently 14 trustees took part in the meeting - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsSHETLAND Charitable Trust has approved controversial proposals to reduce the number of council trustees from seven to four.

An amendment to refer the proposals back to the trust's governance advisory committee for reconsideration was defeated by eight votes to two.

Samaritans branch staging recruitment drive

Samaritans branch chairwoman Edith Leask pictured with the charity's visiting inspectors, who gave the branch a clean bill of health earlier this year.THE SAMARITANS in Shetland are beginning a new recruitment drive in response to an increase in their workload.

An open night is being held at the Shetland Samaritans centre at Charlotte Street in Lerwick on Thursday (12 May) with the aim of attracting more volunteers.

Wir Shetland latest to oppose SCT reforms

AN EMPHATIC majority of Wir Shetland’s membership is in favour of directly elected trustees on the board of Shetland Charitable Trust, the campaign group says.

Wir Shetland, currently under the temporary chairmanship of James Titcomb following the resignation of founder John Tulloch, said 84 per cent wanted to see an all-elected board and a further 12.5 per cent wanted a majority of elected trustees.

Study into restoring business flights discount

TRANSPORT partnership HITRANS has commissioned a study exploring the possibility of business travel being reintroduced as part of the Air Discount Scheme (ADS).

Isles politicians have been calling for the measure since the scheme was restricted to non-business trips back in April 2011 by the SNP government.