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'Braaly guid night' for a galley burning

Guizer Jarl Olav Haraldsson cuts a spectacular figure as the torches give the night air a beautiful hue. Photo: Brian GrayTHE DAYTIME drizzle of this year’s Up Helly Aa day gave way to a crisp, dry and just ever so slightly breezy night, writes Genevieve White

Hundreds of torches illuminated the elegant tan and green costumes of the Jarl squad, while also shedding light on the usual mix of weird and wonderful guizer costumes: from cowboys and big birds to nuns and super heroes.

'This is different: it's unique'

Guizer Jarl Neil Robertson is having a blast on his big day. Photo: ShetnewsTHIS morning’s dreich start to Up Helly Aa did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the throngs of people lining Commercial Street, writes Genevieve White. From crowds of local school children to visitors from overseas: all were eager to cheer on the Guizer Jarl and his squad on their special day.

Some of the crowd had travelled far to witness Lerwick’s fire festival. Andrew Harger, who had come all the way from his home in Oregon USA, described the festival as “awesome”, adding: “It’s hard to find authentic things nowadays – go to Machu Picchu and you just find cameras everywhere. This is different: it’s unique.”

SSE under fire over electricity prices

SSE, which runs Lerwick Power Station, is under fire for refusing to cut electricity prices despite a crash in global energy prices.ELECTRICITY consumers in Shetland will “find it difficult” to understand why their bills are not coming down following a huge crash in oil prices over the past six months, isles MSP Tavish Scott says.

On Monday, SSE announced it would cut its gas prices by 4.1 per cent from 30 April, but is maintaining a freeze on electricity prices until July 2016. That is despite the price of a barrel of oil plummeting from over $100 a barrel to less than $50 dollars a barrel since last summer.

Five areas set to get 3G mobile signal

A FURTHER five small Shetland communities are in line to receive third generation (3G) mobile phone coverage after being shortlisted in a rural “not spot” programme by Vodafone.

Following a successful trial in Walls, the mobile phone giant’s rural open sure signal programme will bring coverage to Aith, Baltasound, Fetlar, Sandness and Skeld. Late last year Vodafone added Baltasound and Hamnavoe to the list of those set to receive 3G.

Vodafone said those communities have suffered from unreliable mobile coverage and slow network speeds, but by installing its “innovative” technology, they will “benefit from high quality 3G voice services, and much needed access to the internet via mobile devices”.

Viking wind farm planning consent “unfair”

Anti-Viking wind farm protesters outside Lerwick Town Hall. They should have had the right to appeal the planning consent, according to Planning Democracy.SHETLAND’S controversial Viking Energy wind farm plan is being held up as an example of unfair planning law in Scotland.

The voluntary campaign group Planning Democracy has just petitioned the Scottish government to change current planning legislation so communities have the same rights of appeal that developers currently enjoy.

They say that if planning rules were fair, there would have been a full public local inquiry into the Viking Energy wind farm due to the level of opposition to the project.

Guizer Jarl Neil gears up for big day

This year's Guizer Jarl Neil Robertson in relaxed mode ahead of Tuesday's Lerwick Up Helly Aa. Photo: Shetnews/Neil RiddellFORTY-FOUR years on from his first outing as a nine-year-old boy, Tuesday will be the fifth time that Neil Robertson has taken his place in Lerwick Up Helly Aa’s Jarl’s Squad – the difference being that on this occasion he’ll be the main man.

In 1971 he took his place in Alan Anderson’s squad – an experience he remembers very fondly: “As a peerie boy, things like swords – and we had spears that year – it was just a magical kind of toy to have”.

Man taken to hospital after 'serious' accident

POLICE say a man has been cut free from a van following a two-vehicle collision near the Sound Brae to the south of Lerwick. The man has been taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital but his injuries are not thought to be serious.

A fire and rescue spokesperson said they had been called, along with other emergency services, to what was described as a "serious road traffic collision" involving the van and other vehicle, at around 3.50pm. 

The road was initially closed while the emergency services carried out their duties, and police were subsequently able to partially reopen it. It is hoped to be fully open again by around 6pm. 

Local SNP branch: reforms don't go far enough

SNP branch press spokesman Douglas Young.SHETLAND’S burgeoning SNP branch has welcomed aspects of yesterday’s announcement of legislation detailing further devolution to Scotland – but warned that “much more needs to be done to make the country a fairer place to live and work”.

The party’s local branch has seen a huge surge in membership from 46 to 272 – a rise of some 580 per cent – since Scotland voted No by a 55-45 margin in September's independence referendum.

In Shetland only 36 per cent of voters said Yes to independence, but that has not stopped a massive spike in local membership numbers.

Kay is the lucky winner

A delighted Kay Foster with her 'unexpected birthday present' - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsCONGRATULATIONS to Shetland News reader Kay Foster, from Lerwick, for winning our Christmas Quiz competition.

The council employee said receiving a 'golden envelope' with gift vouchers from local shops worth £230 was like an "unexpected present" for her birthday, which she celebrated earlier this week.

Charitable trust now has three vacancies

Betty Fullerton.SHETLAND Charitable Trust is now seeking to appoint three new trustees after Betty Fullerton has handed in her resignation for personal reasons.

The charity has extended its deadline for applications until the end of February after receiving next to no interest in the two vacancies, which were advertised in December.

The two posts became available after NHS Shetland chairman Ian Kinniburgh and Voluntary Action Shetland chief executive Catherine Hughson's terms of office came to an end.

Five months jail for string of offences

A MAN whose string of offences including stealing from three Lerwick shops and driving a motorbike while unfit through drink or drugs has been jailed for five months.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Wednesday that 41 year old Simon Edwards, of Hoofields, Lerwick, committed the offences, all in the last three months of 2014, while on bail.

On 20 October he stole a hooded top from Cee & Jays, going on to thieve two gift sets from Boots Chemist on 17 December and then steal four computer games from Tesco four days later.

Ferry strike set to escalate

The Whalsay ferry Hendra making her first run to Vidlin on Wednesday morning - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsTRAFFIC between Shetland mainland and the islands was starting to flow again following a first three-hour walkout by ferry mates, on Wednesday morning.

Mates have decided to drop some of their planned action, and will now act as masters if required.

Urgent call for Levenwick road improvements

The Garriock Brothers low loader lying off the road down the embankment at Levenwick on Tuesday morning Photo Ronnie RobertsonA CALL for urgent improvements to “the worst part of Shetland’s main road” have been made after an articulated truck rolled down an embankment at teatime on Monday.

The Garriock Brothers low loader carrying a 25 tonne digger tumbled down the steep bank just south of the A970’s north junction for the village of Levenwick, in Shetland’s south mainland, at around 4.30pm.

No one was injured, but Shetland Islands Council was forced to close the main road for most of Tuesday to allow Garriocks to retrieve the vehicle as a safety measure, due to the number of drivers stopping to look.

Low loader tumble closes main road

Workmen consider how to retrieve the Garriock Brothers' low loader that came off the A970 on Monday. Photo Ronnie RobertsonTHE MAIN road through Shetland’s south mainland has been closed for several hours on Tuesday morning to recover a low loader lorry that tumbled down an embankment on Monday afternoon.

The Garriock Brothers’ lorry carrying a digger came off the road at 5pm as it travelled south on the A970 between the north and south Levenwick junctions.

Police were called to the scene and said the driver was uninjured, but a report is to be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Secondary school changes to be postponed

Protesters marching through Lerwick last June in support of the islands rural schools.PLANS to review secondary education in rural Shetland look set to be placed on the back burner for the next two years at least.

Councillors at Tuesday’s Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee meeting are set to back a proposal to postpone consultations on closing or cutting back classes at the islands’ five junior high school until 2017.

The move follows the “overwhelming opposition” to proposals to either close or discontinue S4 classes at Mid Yell and Whalsay junior highs.

Drifting vessel back on her way

THE CREW of a vessel drifting off Shetland earlier on Saturday has managed to restart her engine and is now on her way to Lerwick.

The Northern Viking with three crew on board had alerted Shetland Coastguard at 10.40am that they were drifting seven miles northwest of Fitful Head after losing power.

The coastguard search and rescue helicopter 102 was quickly on the scene while the Aith lifeboat made her way from the westside village.

Tug with three crew drifting off Fitful Head

THE AITH lifeboat and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter 102 have been launched to assist a 28 metre tug that lost power a few miles off the southwest corner of Shetland mainland.

The three strong crew of the Northern Viking alerted Shetland Coastguard at 10.40 on Saturday morning.

At the time her position was given as seven miles northwest of Fitful Head.

Government to push for Viking’s viability

UK energy and climate change secretary Ed DaveyPLANS to build a massive wind farm in Shetland took a “significant” step forward this week when the government agreed to speed up the timetable for making the project viable.

Both UK and Scottish governments have put their full weight behind cutting the cost of exporting electricity from the isles.

UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said Westminster would bring forward the setting of the minimum “strike” price for renewable energy generated in the isles from next year to July this year.

Police visit over TV set ends up in court

A POLICE visit to a house in Shetland’s south mainland to ask for the TV to be turned down appears to have ended in violence, with one man being held on remand until next week after allegedly attempting to repeatedly bite a policeman.

Two officers turned up at a house at 2 Midgarth, Cunningsburgh, in the early hours of Friday morning to ask its occupant, 42 year old Carol Robertson, to turn the TV down.

However later that day Robertson, who lives at the Midgarth address, appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court along with 37 year old Kelly Ann Ross and 32 year old David Joseph McKinnon.

Fire destroys empty bungalow in Tingwall

AN EMPTY bungalow in Tingwall belonging to a woman who recently died was destroyed by a blaze in the early hours of Friday morning.

Around 20 fire fighters from Lerwick, Scalloway and Bixter tackled what they decribed as “an intense house fire” after being called out at 3.20am to the cottage called Tingview at the foot of the Griesta road in the Tingwall valley.

The bungalow belonged to Phyllis Burns, an elderly woman whose funeral took place just last week.

BP to shed some Sullom Voe office jobs

Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland is to shrink its contingent of office staff.A SMALL number of office jobs at BP’s Sullom Voe oil terminal are likely to go next summer following Thursday’s announcements of redundancies, the oil company has confirmed.

BP North Sea said they would be shedding 300 jobs across the North Sea region this year as part of a long term restructuring programme.

However Shetland remains a key part of the company’s strategic plan for the future, with £7 billion investments in the north Atlantic proceeding as planned, along with the gas sweetening project at Sullom Voe.

Ferries dispute: SIC warns of disruption

Strike action will disrupt the SIC ferry service for four consecutive Wednesdays.FERRY USERS are being warned to expect “significant” disruption to Shetland’s inter-island service after the Unite union said it would resume industrial action starting next week.

 A dispute over the grading of ferry mates has been rumbling on for some time, and as of next week they will refuse to “act up” when the vessel’s skippers are unavailable.

Lightning closes some schools

Lightning over Lerwick in the early hours of Wednesday - Photo: Sam PittMORE than 700 households across Shetland are still affected by power cuts after the electricity network was struck by lightning.

The schools in Dunrossness, Sandwick, Cunningsburgh, Ollaberry, North Roe and Fetlar are closed.

Scottish and Southern Energy said on Wednesday morning that most supplies should be restored later in the morning.

Around 140 customers at Sumburgh and 367 households and businesses at Gremista were expected to have their power back by 10.30am.

Meanwhile 220 customers in Ollaberry lost power at 8.50am. Engineers are working to restore supplies.

Planners swing behind new roundabout

The plans were unanimously approved after residents' car parking concerns were addressed.THE NEW Anderson High School project passed its latest hurdle on Tuesday when a new roundabout and access road at Lerwick's North Lochside were given the thumbs-up by planners.

Several residents had submitted letters indicating they would object to the development if no new car parking spaces were provided to compensate for the spaces to be lost in constructing the roundabout.