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Kester Wigram’s remains found

SHETLAND police have confirmed that they have found the skull of a man who disappeared from Shetland last year.

New Zealand born Kester Wigram was reported missing on 2 April 2010, having last been seen the day before setting off in a borrowed canoe from St Ninian’s Isle beach, in Shetland’s south mainland.

The 51 year old has not been seen since and his family held a memorial service to celebrate his life in Shetland and in New Zealand.

Following his disappearance police found a wash cover used on canoes during their search of the coastline, but no other evidence surfaced until this summer.

On 13 July a local fishing boat discovered a human skull and on Monday confirmed that it was Mr Wigram.

Next of kin have been informed and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal, but police say there are no suspicious circumstances.

Mr Wigram was born in Wellington and moved to Shetland 10 years before he disappeared. He was a popular man known for his spirit of adventure and has two sons.

OSCR blocks charitable trust referendum

THE SCOTTISH charity regulator OSCR has threatened to take Shetland Charitable Trust to the Court of Session for misconduct and to restrict its spending after it refused to reform over the past three years.

Trutees have been dragging their heels in response to OSCR’s demand that the local authority’s control of its board must be brought to an end.

All Shetland Islands Council’s 22 members automatically join the board of the £200 million trust when they are elected, along with two independent trustees – the head of Lerwick’s secondary school and the local Lord Lieutenant.

However new charity regulations mean the trust must remove the council’s control, and all attempts to introduce an independent majority have faltered at the last hurdle.

Local government regulator The Accounts Commission have also qualified the council’s accounts for the past four years over its relationship with the trust.

OSCR’s patience has now run out after trustees voted on 21 September to leave the final decision on reform to the islanders themselves by holding a referendum.

Newly appointed chief executive David Robb has written to all trustees warning them that their actions to date amount to misconduct and has taken independent legal advice on how to bring the trust to heel.

He writes: “In the spirit of our engagement with SCT to date, OSCR would, of course, prefer that matters are resolved without the use of our statutory powers of suspension and direction and without resort to litigation.

“However we are mindful of the protracted discussions we have already had and the absence of adequate action on the part of the charity trustees over the past three years.

“Given this, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action including seeking the necessary orders from the courts if matters cannot be resolved to our satisfaction within a reasonable timescale.”

Mr Robb has ordered the trust to abandon its plans for a referendum and given it two weeks to give an undertaking that a timetable for reform will be presented for OSCR’s approval by 22 December.

Failure to do so will provoke the regulator to restrict any funds due to be spent on a referendum and the trust will be taken to the Court of Session.

Trust chairman Bill Manson, who has always supported reform, said he was not surprised by the stance OSCR had taken.

He said: “Given the inordinate length of time these discussions have taken, and with no early prospect of any decisions, it is not surprising that OSCR’s patience has worn thin and that it has imposed a very limited timescale to finalise our proposals for change.

“OSCR continues to seek that the changes be proposed by the trustees and it will then rule upon whether our proposals meet the legal requirements.”

The trust was set up in the 1970s to disperse community funds earned from Shetland hosting the oil industry for the past three decades. It funds 16 separate organisations which employ hundreds of people and has paid for leisure, welfare and amenity facilities the envy of the rest of Scotland.

Local government regulator The Accounts Commission have also qualified the council’s accounts for the past four years over its relationship with the trust.

OSCR's letter can be found here.

Sex offender’s ambulance charity struck off

A SHETLAND charity set up two years ago to provide an independent ambulance service is being struck off the charity register.

The Scottish charities regulator OSCR said that the Shetland Independent Ambulance Service could not be contacted, had no funds and had not provided any accounts. However they were taking no legal action against the trustees.

A complaint was received about the charity just five months after it was set up in June 2009 by a group of Mossbank residents who were keen to provide extra ambulance cover for the isles at a time when the NHS had removed its second ambulance from Shetland.

The group included Chris Readings, who was jailed in February after being found guilty at the High Court in Aberdeen of sexually assaulting a young boy and girl between 2008 and 2010.

The organisation had initially spoken of raising £175,000 to buy three second hand ambulances and to provide training, and thereafter raising £40,000 a year to maintain the volunteer service. They were to approach businesses, including BP, and the lottery fund.

However OSCR received a complaint in November 2009, which they said was outside their remit, but is understood to relate to the non-payment of training fees.

The complainer had tried to contact the charity but had not been able to do so, and told OSCR its website contained inaccurate information.

OSCR said they had repeatedly tried to contact the charity themselves as part of their investigation and been unable to do so. They received no response to a final recorded delivery letter sent in November last year.

OSCR obtained bank statements and found that the charity had two bank accounts, one of which was empty and the other contained £30.85. Records showed that approximately £1,200 had gone through one account between July and September 2009, but there had been no other activity.

“As a result of this inquiry it appears to OSCR that Shetland Independent Ambulance Service is inactive and is not providing public benefit in furtherance of its charitable purposes,” the regulator said.

“OSCR considers that the charity trustees have breached their general duties under section 66 of the 2005 Act by failing to provide annual accounts and failing to respond to our requests for information on the charity’s activities and how these activities deliver public benefit.

“However, we do not consider that it would be proportionate to take further action in this respect, since the organisation will no longer have charitable status.”

 

Days at sea dismay

FISHING leaders are reeling from news that the European Commission is proposing to limit fishing effort to four days a fortnight next year.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong described it as “a hammer blow” for the fleet, which is already facing automatic cuts to several important species due to a lack of scientific data.

The alarm was raised after the EC signed off its latest proposal on Wednesday that fishing effort next year should be cut back because some member states had exceeded their allocated fishing effort last year.

“This latest bombshell from the EC is totally is incomprehensible and doesn’t recognise the real and tangible conservation efforts made by our fishermen that has resulted in the recovery of the cod stock,” Mr Armstrong said.

“The current level of cuts already proposed would cause critical damage to the fleet in its own right, but if these additional reductions came into force, then the impact would be unthinkable.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott called for the governments in Edinburgh and London to “leave no stone unturned” to resolve the situation.

"I hope that the Scottish Government will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on this most pressing of issues next week."

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael said that UK government officials were now seeking “urgent clarification” from EC over the proposal signed on Wednesday this week.

Mr Carmichael said: “These suggestions of overfishing make no sense at first sight. The commission will have to explain their reasoning rather better than they have done so far if they are to proceed in this manner.

“I am bound to say that if there has been overfishing, then I strongly suspect that the sheer weight and complexity of regulation will have contributed to that. The commission cannot deny their own responsibility for that.

“I know that UK ministers are seeking urgent clarification from the commission. I will be working with them to do what we can to get this situation resolved.”

Tory MEP Struan Stevenson, vice president of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, said he had spoken to UK fishing minister Richard Benyon on the issue.

“Scottish whitefish vessels have been participating in good faith in a catch-quota scheme as part of the cod recovery plan that displays the strength of hugely important innovations like CCTV in removing the need for discards,” he said.

“To be told out of the blue that the extra days at sea they expected in return for participation in the scheme is a bizarre change of tack.

“I can assure Scotland’s fishermen that this is not the end of the story. Commissioner Damanaki must be persuaded that the continuance of such micro-management from Brussels cannot go on when it so clearly threatens the very survival of Scotland’s cod fishery.

“I am fully assured that the UK government is united with the Scottish industry in its determination to overturn this abrupt and inexplicable decision.”

Fuel duty rebate confirmed

ISLANDERS will receive a 5p per litre reduction in fuel duty from 1 March next year, the UK government confirmed on Friday morning.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced that the European Union had granted final approval to the derogation scheme for all the Scottish islands and the Isles of Scilly.

To ensure retailers do not suffer cash flow problems passing on the price cut from March, they will be able to start claiming the rebate from HM Revenue and Customs from 1 January.

Mr Alexander said: “As well as securing EU clearance, we have produced a scheme designed to protect the cash flow of local retailers.

"We have also delivered on a promise to help address the persistent unfairness of some of the lowest income communities in the country paying among the highest pump prices.”

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael welcomed the announcement, but said there was more work to be done to help reduce island motorists’ fuel bills.

He said: “This duty cut, which is the largest of its kind in the EU, will go some way towards providing local motorists with relief from high prices.

“It remains the case however that we will still be paying substantially more for our petrol and diesel. I still want the competition authorities to explain why our market fails and to sort it.”

He also pointed out that the rebate had been gained within 18 months thanks to the efforts of the Liberal Democrats within the coalition government.

“The Labour party in government came up with ridiculous excuses about why this could not be done and the Conservatives did not support a scheme of this sort in opposition. The coalition is doing this because Liberal Democrats are a part of it,” he said.

 

Defra pledge to sort Native Shetland blunder

Shetland wool, but can it be called 'Native'?THE UK government is stepping in to sort out a bureaucratic blunder that bans 99 per cent of Shetland sheep farmers and crofters from using the term ‘Native Shetland Wool’.

Two weeks ago the European Commission granted exclusive use of the term to the crofting co-operative ShetlandOrganics, which has just six members.

The decision set off alarm bells among some of their 900 or so fellow crofters, who contacted local MP Alistair Carmichael with their fears that they will be barred from claiming their produce hails from the isles.

Mr Carmichael has now invited a senior government civil servant to Shetland to speak to the local industry and resolve the issue by amending the protected designation of origin (PDO) accreditation.

Six years ago ShetlandOrganics applied to Europe for a PDO using the term ‘Organic Native Shetland Wool’, at a time when the price of wool had collapsed and they sought to restore some of its value.

However lawyers within the EC decided to drop the word ‘organic’ from the term, and unbeknownst to ShetlandOrganics, failed to consult within Shetland or anywhere else in the UK about their move.

When the PDO was announced on 11 November, it came as a complete surprise to all the other sheep producers, wool traders and craftspeople in Shetland.

One said: “If this regulation means that we can’t use the term ‘Native Shetland Wool’ there is nobody from Europe that’s told me about it or asked if it is going to affect us, so we really don’t know what this means.”

Ronnie Eunson, of ShetlandOrganics, explained: “Shetland wool used to have fantastic value. Since then it’s been degraded and every high street sells ‘Shetland wool’ that may or may not come from Shetland.

“We applied to use the term ‘Organic Native Shetland Wool’ to identify it as being organic and coming from Shetland, and we don’t understand why the change had to be made.”

Jim Nicolson, secretary of the Shetland Flock Book Society, said he fully supported ShetlandOrganics’ effort to obtain the PDO, but agreed it should have contained the word ‘Organic’.

Alistair Carmichael has invited Simon Johnson, of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to Shetland to find a way in which the PDO can be amended.

Mr Carmichael said a PDO could provide a real marketing advantage for wool from native Shetland sheep, and it was “unfortunate” that instead it had excluded the vast bulk of local wool producers.

“It’s nobody’s fault, but is a consequence of the somewhat bizarre approach to consultation which is taken by the European Commission,” he said.

“I would like to get the Defra officials to Shetland as soon as possible to work out a way ahead which is sensible.

“I am very impressed with the measured and sensible approach that all parties have taken in dealing with this difficult issue and I hope that this approach will allow us to find a way to protect the best interests of Shetland crofters and farmers.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “We want all native Shetland wool producers to be able to use the protected name, and we’re working with the local MP, Scottish government and the industry to sort this problem out.”

Native Shetland Wool is the first non-food product in Europe to receive a PDO, the highest level of protection currently enjoyed by the likes of Shetland Lamb, Scottish Farmed Salmon, Scotch Beef, Cornish Clotted Cream and Blue Stilton Cheese.

SIC invited to bid for AHS funding

SHETLAND Islands Council has been invited to make a bid for the bulk of the cost of a new secondary school in Lerwick by the Scottish government.

Education secretary Michael Russell met a senior Shetland councillor and two top officials for half an hour on Wednesday afternoon, during which he said he would welcome an application to the Scottish Futures Trust.

This is the closest the council has ever come to the possibility of government cash to help build a replacement for the biggest school in Shetland.

Two years ago the council was on the verge of spending £49 million from its own reserves on building a new Anderson High School next door to the existing school at The Knab.

That plan was scrapped when councillors staged a dramatic last minute U-turn in favour of a new build at Staney Hill, next to Clickimin Leisure Complex, after builders had already arrived on site to start work in September 2009.

Now the council is desperately trying to save money and admits it no longer has the reserves to build such a large scale project without external help.

On Wednesday SIC education and families committee Betty Fullerton led a delegation including director of children’s services Helen Budge and head of finance Hazel Sutherland to Holyrood to see if the government could assist.

Afterwards, councillor Fullerton said: “We certainly had a positive meeting with Mike Russell, there is no doubt about that, and we now have an open door to put in an application in the new year, provided councillors agree that is what they want to do.”

Hopes are relatively high, with the Scottish Futures Trust ready to open a new round of funding in early 2012.

Mrs Fullerton and Mrs Budge met the SFT’s director of finance Peter Reekie on Thursday morning, who explained that in the past the government has paid up to 67 per cent of the cost of a new school.

Mrs Fullerton said that the next step would be for councillors to decide on 7 December whether they wish to underline their earlier decision to build at Staney Hill, and if they wished to follow through with an SFT bid.

If the council does go ahead, a great deal of work will have to be carried out very quickly to put together a preliminary application for funding.

The council only has £22 million available for capital projects over the next five years, significantly less than the cost of a new secondary school in Lerwick.

National strike to disrupt council services

Shetland Islands Council is warning of widespread disruption to its services on the day of the national strike, next Wednesday.

The council released the following details this lunchtime:

Ferries:

No ferries will operate.  Emergency cover (blue light services), plus vet, hydro and water call outs will be provided.  Blue light services will be co-ordinated through the coastguard as usual. There will be a skeleton service provided at the Ulsta booking office, and the Whalsay booking service will be open.

 

Ports & Harbours:

Emergency cover only is likely to be provided in the ports of Sullom Voe and Scalloway. Routine services by the harbour authority are likely to be unavailable.  There are no changes to emergency contact numbers or procedures.

 

Schools etc:

  • All schools will be closed, with the exception of Uyeasound, Skerries, Foula, Burravoe & Fair Isle

  • Scalloway School Nursery will not be open

  • Kidzone at Mossbank School will offer some childcare places on a first come first served basis.

  • ASN bases at the Anderson High School and Bells Brae will be closed.

  • The Janet Courtney Hostel will be operate with a skeleton staff only.

  • Evening classes at the Anderson High School and Brae High School are expected to be cancelled.

  • Sandwick Junior High School games hall will be closed for evening bookings

  • Scalloway Junior High School games hall will be open for evening bookings

  • Gilbertson Park games hall will be open for evening bookings

  • The Bridges Project will be closed

  • Islesburgh Community Centre will be closed.

  • There will be no Islesburgh preschool group, Islesburgh out of school club and no Islesburgh breakfast club

  • Shetland College and all its outreach centres will be closed. Staff who are not taking part in the action will be at work as normal.

 
Community Care:

Residential care and home helps, meals on wheels and others providing community care services will continue to operate.

 

Gritting / Roads:

There will be no general gritting or roads services. Should an emergency arise that requires gritting or snow clearance, or involves an issue such as a road collapse or serious flooding, then that service will be provided.  Support of blue-light services will be co-ordinated through the police.

Scord quarry will not be mixing bitmac.


Building Services:

Emergency and urgent responsive service only.

Emergency and urgent calls should be made to the building services emergency number which is 01595 744150

All other work requests should be directed to the Building Services Help Desk on 01595 744 183 or emailed to buildings.helpdesk@shetland.gov.uk in the normal manner.

 
Transport Services:

  • Integrated service bus (Service 24) – will not operate due to SIC ferries not operating

  • Bressay service will not operate due to SIC ferries not operating

  • Special Needs / Social Work Transport will operate as normal.

  • Transport Planning office at 20 Commercial Rd will be open as normal

  • Tingwall airport – flights will be disrupted.  Anyone with flights booked for 30 Wednesday are advised to contact the airline operator for further information.


Refuse Collection:

  • Collection will take place as normal on all routes apart from Yell.

  • Yell’s collection will take place on Wednesday 7 December.

Street cleaning:

There will be limited street cleaning on Wednesday 30 November.

 
Waste:

The Energy Recovery Plant won’t be accepting waste from contractors or the public.

The Gremista landfill will be closed to contractors, industrial and commercial waste. Civic amenity skips for household waste will be open between 9am and 4pm.

Criminal Justice:

The office at 92 St Olaf Street will be closed to the public.  Clients who had appointments will be seen on alternative days.

 
Housing:

North Ness office will be closed to the public.


The following services will continue to be delivered, having been exempted from strike action:

  • Essential residential services for special needs adults and children

  • Residential and home care

  • Meals on Wheels

  • Special Needs Transport

  • Essential winter roads maintenance inside and outside normal working hours

For the very latest updates on changes to services due to the strrike action, please go to the SIC's website at: www.shetland.gov.uk

Fishermen fear mackerel sell out

PELAGIC fishermen believe the European Commission may let them down in their fight to tackle Iceland and Faroe over huge increases to their mackerel catch.

Fishing leaders meet Scottish fishing secretary Richard Lochhead on Friday in Aberdeen to spell out their concerns ahead of a new round of mackerel negotiations in Ireland on 6 December.

Fishermen say there are “worrying signs” emanating from the European Commission that they want to “put this dispute to bed, whatever the cost”.

Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt said that Europe must follow Norway’s example and take a tough stand against the recent unilateral increases in Iceland and Faroe’s quotas.

He also questions what happened to the promise of EU sanctions against the two island states that was due to be outlined last month.

Mr Gatt said: “The Scottish pelagic industry needs an agreement on mackerel, but a deal should be fair and equitable based on fishing practices undertaken over many years.

“Iceland and the Faroes must realise that they are putting the sustainability of a previously well-managed stock in grave danger.”

Iceland has increased its mackerel quota from 323 tonnes in 2005 to 147,000 this year. Faroe have also set themselves a 150,000 tonne quota, up from 30,000 two years ago.

Scotland catches 140,000 tonnes of mackerel, the most valuable species for the fleet, with Shetland boats catching around 40,000 tonnes.

Mr Gatt said fishermen will also be calling for an increase in the herring quota next year, based on a doubling of the stock in the past two years.

They also want to receive a greater share of the blue whiting quota, amid fears that this the EU will hand over quota to Norway in a deal that will not benefit Scotland.

Viking wind farm is set to shrink

Scatsta airport on Wednesday afternoon - Photo: Shetland NewsTHE SIZE of Shetland’s proposed £680 million Viking Energy wind farm is set to be slimmed down yet again due to concerns about aeroplane safety.

Developer Viking Energy has confirmed they are discussing the removal of some of the proposed turbines close to the oil industry airport at Scatsta.

Meanwhile negotiations with Scottish Natural Heritage over the potential impact of 127 huge turbines in central Shetland on the red-listed whimbrel appear to have stalled.

SNH want the removal of 17 turbines from the Lang Kames to reduce the visual impact of the development. The agency is also worried about the number of whimbrels that might be killed every year.

Viking Energy had already removed seven turbines near Scatsta airport from its original plan when it submitted a revised application for planning consent to Scottish ministers at the end of last year.

However it has emerged that more turbines will have to go as the airport is being upgraded.

Some sources suggest that all 22 proposed turbines north of Voe will have to be removed, but this has not been officially confirmed.

Aiport operator Serco did not respond to detailed questions from the Shetland News and also declined to allow airport manager John Thorne to be interviewed.

VE’s project co-ordinator Allan Wishart said that Scatsta airport had always objected to the wind farm because they did not know how the revised lay-out would affect their plans to upgrade.

Mr Wishart said: “We have been talking to Scatsta for quite some time, and are discussing the removal of some turbines.

“There have been reports done which we have seen. We understand that there are difficulties for Scatsta’s operation with the turbines in the vicinity. We have to acknowledge that.

“We haven’t agreed to the removal yet, but we understand the problems. We are in discussions to see what the best way around this is.”

Meanwhile, SNH said that their position in relation to the potential death toll of whimbrel has not changed despite repeated attempts by both sides to find a resolution.

A spokesman said: “We are in discussion with Viking to clarify the figures for the impacts of the proposal on whimbrel. Our current position therefore remains as set out in the November 2010 response letter."

Mr Wishart said it was VE’s position that possibly far fewer than the current projection of 2.1 whimbrel would die every year as a result of operating the wind turbines.

“We still are trying to get SNH to accept the reports and all the verified figures. It still appears that two whimbrel continue to be the stumbling block for them.

“We continue talking but we have not come to a situation where they have said that they will completely withdraw their objection. I think it has now come to the stage where we have to say ‘right minister you have to make a decision on this’.”

The Viking Energy proposal initially included plans for 192 turbines eight years ago when two independent wind farms were on the table.

When Scottish & Southern Energy and Shetland Islands Council joined forces, then transferring the community share to Shetland Charitable Trust, the number was reduced to 150.

This figure came down to 127 when a revised submission was made following widespread objections to the original plan. It now appears that the final number could be less than 100.

Each turbine would have a generating capacity of 3.6 megawatts, measuring 145 metres from base to the tip of the blade at its highest point.

Top flight hoe down at the Click

Musical directors Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain (right) - Photo:John Mackinnon

TRANSATLANTIC Sessions, the fastest annual sell-out at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival, will make a much anticipated appearance at the Clickimin, in Lerwick, on 3 February.

Tickets for the Celtic and Americana extravaganza will go on sale for £24 each on a strictly face-to-face basis at High Level Music from 10am on Friday 25 November. They will also become available at the same time online at the Celtic Connections website at www.celticconnections.com

The 2012 show premieres at Celtic Connections in Glasgow before heading north to Shetland and then touring London, Dublin, Birmingham and Gateshead.

With Shetland fiddle icon Aly Bain and dobro deity Jerry Douglas as joint musical directors, this year’s stellar line-up also features lead singer of The Mavericks Raul Malo, founding member of Wailin’ Jennys Ruth Moody, Irish singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke, Scottish singer-songwriter Eddi Reader and Gaelic songstress Karen Matheson.

From the USA, this year’s Transatlantic Sessions features US roots doyens Tim O'Brien and American multi-instrumentalist Bruce Molsky.

The ensemble will be flanked as ever by a crème-de-la-crème 'house band' including Russ Barenberg, Danny Thompson, John Doyle, John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick, James Mackintosh and Donald Shaw.

The visit of the sessions to Shetland is part of the year-long Scotland’s Islands celebrations.

It’s official – Lerwick coastguard station stays

“PUBLIC pressure works!” That was the call from the relieved staff of Shetland coastguard as the UK government announced on Tuesday that Lerwick’s coastguard co-ordinating station would remain open 24 hours a day.

However the local branch of the PCS union said their joy was tainted by disappointment that other stations would close and colleagues would lose their jobs.

The campaign to save the Lerwick coastguard station from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s modernisation plans dominated the first half of the year after last December's proposal to close Shetland or Stornoway and convert the survivor to a daytime only service.

A huge public campaign rubbished the MCA’s vision, with extra weight being brought to bear by the House of Commons transport select committee, who condemned the plans outright.

However it was only when shipping minister Mike Penning stood up in Westminster on Tuesday and made it official, that local coastguard officers were able to believe that the battle was finally over.

A PCS spokesman said: “Naturally we are pleased the Lerwick coastguard station will continue to provide an emergency service for the Shetland and Orkney islands, however we are also extremely disappointed that other coastguard stations and the communities they serve were not so fortunate and remain earmarked to close.

“We opposed any station closures or compulsory redundancies and call on the government to listen to the professional coastguard officers, the mariners and public in those communities and to reconsider their decision.

“All the staff at Shetland coastguard would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their support during the campaign this year to keep the station open, public pressure works.”

Less fortunate are 159 staff working at the stations in Forth, Clyde, Great Yarmouth, Liverpool, Thames, Swansea, Brixham and Portland, all of which will close by March 2015.

Centres at Falmouth, Milford Haven, Holyhead, Belfast, Stornoway, Shetland, Aberdeen and Humber will be retained, as will the smaller London facility that manages the tidal Thames.

Mr Penning said the changes would result in a "modernised, nationally networked, fully resilient" service.

But shadow shipping minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the changes were driven by financial constraints.

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael battled for Lerwick to be retained as a 24 hour operation from his position as deputy chief whip within the coalition cabinet.

“Local people were strongly of the view that a round the clock service in both Shetland and Stornoway was necessary. I took that message to the heart of government and ministers have listened,” he said.

“I am also pleased the minister confirmed that coastguard officers will see improvements in their pay and conditions, and training for coastguard volunteers will be strengthened.

“Progress on these particular issues has been a long time in coming and the changes that will be brought forward are an important part of the reform plans.”

Less delighted were the Scottish government, who said Scotland had been sold short by the decision and lives could be put in danger.

As well as the closure of Clyde and Forth, the Aberdeen centre is to be downsized with the loss of staff.

Environment secretary Richard Lochhead accused Westminster of using Scotland as a guinea pig, putting saving money ahead of saving lives and called again for the service to be devolved to Holyrood.

“These stations cover large and complex areas of our beautiful, but sometimes dangerous, coastline and I remain unconvinced that a reduced number of stations will be able to provide the appropriate level of cover,” he said.

“This concern is exacerbated by plans to reduce staffing for some stations, including Aberdeen where we are extremely worried about the impact this could have on the ability to respond to a major oil and gas incident in the North Sea.

“More than 30 years of expertise in dealing with offshore incidents cannot be replicated elsewhere in the UK, so it is crucial this centre remains fully staffed at least at current levels and the central point for any response to a North Sea incident.

“As we have indicated throughout this consultation process, with some 60 per cent of UK seas, it makes no sense that Scotland is left with just a third of the MRCCs. This reaffirms our belief that the UK government must devolve this issue to Scotland."

 

Six to stand in by-election

SIX LOCAL men are to contest the Shetland Central by-election which was called after Iris Hawkins stood down as councillor after 17 years in the post.

The by-election on 15 December comes just a few months before the Scottish local government election, in early May next year.

The names of the candidates were announced by Shetland Islands Council’s  deputy returning officer Anne Cogle, on Tuesday afternoon.

They are, in alphabetical order: Stephen Morgan, Clive Richardson, David Sandison, Ian Scott, Scotty Van der Tol and Robert Williamson.

Mr Morgan, the council’s former head of children’s service, said he stands for “common sense” politics.

“I feel I have got a lot to offer to the Shetland community. Shetland has given me a lot in life and I feel I have thriven on what Shetland has given me. I think I have skills and ability to give something back to the community.

“I am a decisive person, I can make decisions, whether they are easy or difficult ones, and I will stick to them. I also have a good working knowledge of how the council operates.

“We don’t have an endless pot of money, but we are not doomed either; so if we manage it properly we could continue to be the best place in the county to live, the 39 year old from Tingwall said.

Meanwhile, north mainland resident Clive Richardson brings party politics into the local government scene as he stands for the Conservative and Unionist party.

The 48 year old is employed at the power station at the Sullom Voe Terminal and has a keen interest in the local political and economical scene.

Born in Lerwick, he spent many years with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF) before returning to Shetland in 1992.

He said that the RRF creed stating 'I will never accept defeat' and 'I will place the mission and the team first'; were both particularly applicable for the local authority in the years ahead.

The chairman of the Scalloway community council, David Sandison, has also put his name forward.

The 51 year old, who has been the general manager for fish farming trades body Shetland Aquaculture for many years, said he has been representing many people over the years.

“I do an awful lot in the community, I have lots of different voluntary roles, and therefore I feel it is my duty to step up and take on the responsibility.

“My philosophy is that change takes time. You need to build strong and productive relationships with both fellow members and senior officials. Generally speaking I will be looking at how we can achieve efficiencies but still deliver the same services and cut the cost of delivering those services,” he said.

Scalloway resident Ian Scott, meanwhile, said he was against savage cuts but in favour of “taking an honest look at staff numbers”.

“After having been told for many years not to bring politics into local government, the current council can’t wait to install their own Tory policies.

“We should look at our reserve funds for the next two or three years, take out what is needed to maintain our services. If we find that a reduction in staff numbers is justified, then a long term strategy of, perhaps 10 years , should be used to get the number down,” the 57 year old lifelong socialist said.

Scotty Van der Tol, formerly known as Scotty Dyble, said that as a councillor he was keen to help and stand for the people in the community.

“Long-term I believe in autonomy for Shetland, but that will only happen once people are prepared to do something about it.

“The council needs to stop wasting money in all sorts of ways. For example the council needs to rationalise on all the buildings it has, and sell those off they don’t need.

“The council should aim to be as streamlined as possible; I don’t go along with the idea to give everybody a council job, the local authority should put more effort in helping the private sector,“ the qualified butcher said.

Trade union man Robert Williamson, from Tingwall, said he was closely involved in a lot of council business through his role as the president GMB’s Lerwick branch.

The maintenance technician at the local waste to energy plant said the council in its dealings often appeared to him like a Shetlander with a shed full of tools but not finding the right implement to do the job.

“We need a bit of stock taking, we need to get the resources and abilities utilised in a productive way for the benefit of our community here.

“The kind of opportunities our children will have are shaped by what we do now, we are talking about how Shetland sets itself up for the next 30 or so years,” the 49 year old said.

Ms Cogle said that residents of the Central Ward were reminded to make sure that they are on the electoral register to be able to vote.

The deadline for registrations, to apply for a new postal vote or amend an existing postal vote, is Tuesday 29 November.

For registration or an application for postal vote, contact the Electoral Registration Office at Charlotte House, Commercial Road, Lerwick, phone: 01595 745 700, email: ero@shetland.gov.uk

X ray department only victim of NHS strike

NHS SHETLAND believe the Gilbert Bain Hospital’s X-ray department will be the only part of the local health service to be seriously affected by next week’s nationwide day of action by public sector workers.

While most schools will close on 30 November as teachers walk out in protest at government plans for public sector pensions, Gilbert Bain Hospital and other health facilities will remain open.

All hospital, GP, dental, and community services are planning to provide their normal range of services with few exceptions. Emergencies will be dealt with by the normal level of staff both day and night.

However people who are due to receive an X-ray on 30 November have been asked not to attend, as only emergencies will be dealt with on the day of action.

NHS Shetland has fewer union members than many other health boards, with most nurses being signed up to the Royal College of Nursing, who have not balloted on industrial action, rather than Unison, who are striking.

Chief executive Ralph Roberts said: “We are hoping to be able to run a normal service on 30 November. We appreciate there may be limited disruption on the day, and at the moment it looks like we will only be running emergency X-rays.”

 

Teachers strike next Wednesday

THE VAST majority of schools in Shetland will be closed next Wednesday as teachers join their colleagues and fellow public sector workers across the UK in a day of industrial action.

The strike is in protest at the government’s plans to change public sector pension schemes, which would result in real term pay cuts of more than eight per cent, teachers’ union EIS said.

Other public sector unions will also be taking action on 30 November which is likely to affect council and health board services.

Local EIS secretary Bernie Cranie said teachers did not want to strike but felt they were being forced to take action.

“This will be the first national strike action by teachers and lecturers for a quarter of a century.

“We have been driven to this by continuing cuts to public services and sustained attacks on the living standards of public sector workers,” he said.

Mr Cranie hoped that parents, students and the wider community in Shetland would understand that this action was their last resort.

“The latest government attack – on pension provision – would force all teachers and lecturers to pay more, work longer, and get less in the end for their pension. One effect for all teachers would be an average 3.2 per cent cut in their pay due to increased employee pension contributions.

“We are taking this day of action in defence of public services and those who work in these services.

“We believe that our schools, colleges and universities and our pupils and students deserve the best. But this cannot be delivered on the cheap; there must be proper investment in our public services and fair pay and conditions, including pensions, for the public sector workers who deliver them.”

Tesco plans petrol station

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco yesterday (Thursday) confirmed that they are in talks with Shetland Islands Council’s roads and planning departments to find a suitable site for a petrol station, in Lerwick.

The news comes as the local Tesco store prepares to officially open its extension on Monday morning.

Store manager Paul Clelland was not available for comment this morning (Friday), but speaking on local radio on Thursday night he said that discussions were at a very early stage.

He said: “We are in initial investigations into the possibility of bringing fuel to Shetland based on the large number of requests we had from our customers over the last two years.

“The aspiration would be to have a price that was as close to the national price as possible, but there is the additional logistical cost of bringing fuel to the islands.

“However, we are pretty confident that if we are successful with the plans that we will be able to achieve a better position on price than what we currently have in Shetland.”

The proposed petrol station will not be on the site of the existing store at South Road, as there is not enough additional space for such a development.

 

In brief for 3 July 2010

Nine days of nature

SHETLAND’S wildlife is being celebrated in a nine day long nature festival which kicks off on Saturday.

The festival is jointly organised by Shetland Amenity Trust (SAT), RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and part-funded by Shetland Islands Council.

Organisers have also teamed up with Geopark Shetland to promote the isles’ varied geology.

In all, more than 30 events from Sumburgh Head to Hermaness will be taking place throughout the festival. A full list of events can be found at www.shetlandnaturefestival.co.uk

 

Running free

YOUNG people in Shetland are being offered the chance to try out free-running, the sport made famous in the opening scenes of the James Bond film Casino Royale.

Parkour has quickly become one of the UK’s most exciting new sporting activities, inspiring young people to get active by running through an area, tackling obstacles as they go.

A series of free workshops are being hosted during the second week of July by two of Scotland’s premier parkour coaches, Chris Grant and Scott Houston, from Glasgow.

Funded by the Shetland Community Safety Partnership and the Shetland Alcohol & Drugs Partnership, the aim is to attract young people to spend their time constructively and learn an exciting new sport.

Anyone interested in signing up for the free sessions can register no later than 7 July at http://www.shetland.gov.uk/communitysafety/parkourcoachingworkshops.asp

In brief for 28 July 2010

Man charged for supplying alcohol

A TWENTY year old Shetland man has been charged with supplying alcohol to a minor after police stopped a 16 year old teenager who was seen carrying two bottles of cider, in Lerwick, on Monday late afternoon.

A report is being sent to the procurator fiscal.

 

Scalloway could get a pharmacy

NHS Shetland has received two separate applications to open pharmacies in the village of Scalloway.

The isles currently have three pharmacies; all located in Lerwick, with doctors in rural health centres dispensing medication for their patients.

Norsepharm Ltd, a company registered in Lerwick, plans to open a pharmacy in the centre of Scalloway, while Melby Health Ltd plans to provide a pharmacy service from the local health centre.

The applications will be considered under the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, a process that involves consultation with other pharmacies, the local community as well as health professionals.

Decisions whether the applications will be approved will be taken by the Pharmacy Practice Committee (PPC) and are expected by the end of the year.

 

Almost £200,000 for the lifeboats

THE CREW of the Aith lifeboat is among RNLI stations to benefit from a fundraising drive by staff from the Co-op and its customers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isles of Man.

The effort at 430 food stores in the area has raised £190,000 in just three months.

The donation will be used to cover the cost of three small inflatable Y lifeboats for use on all-weather lifeboats which will be part of the charity's relief fleet, supporting the annual cost of training volunteer lifeboat crew at seven lifeboat stations and the cost of essential maintenance for lifeboat crew lifejackets at 24 lifeboat stations.

John McNeill, of the Co-op, said: “ It has been a real co-operative effort and we would like to thank all our customers for their generosity and for supporting our staff in raising so much for this lifesaving service.”

In brief for 27 July 2010

Long serving special constables

TWO special constables working for the Lerwick police force will be presented with long service awards during a ceremony at the Shetland Museum and Archives, on Tuesday.

Special constables John Scott and Peter Smith have a combined 58 years of service under their belts.

Mr Scott, from Bressay, has served 27 years, while Peter Smith, from Lerwick, a lead ambulance paramedic has supported the local police for 31 years.

Chief inspector David Bushell will present medals to mark both men’s achievements.

 

Breast feeding help

Experienced support from mums trained to help others breastfeed will soon be widely available in Shetland thanks to a joint project between NHS Shetland and The Breastfeeding Network (BfN).

BfN tutor Mary Kennedy will be in Shetland later this week to recruit volunteers who want to become breastfeeding helpers.

“Although NHS guidelines are that babies are best exclusively breastfed for their first six months,  many women stop breastfeeding after just a few weeks - often because they’ve lacked the support to help them through the early stages once the midwives stop visiting.

“As well as reducing the risks of babies getting gut and respiratory infections, obesity and some childhood allergies and cancers, breastfeeding lowers the risk of mums getting breast and ovarian cancer”

Ms Kennedy has already established contact with some women keen to get involved. In addition, two open days, on 8August between 2pm and 4pm and on 11 August between 7pm and 9pm, will be held in the maternity unit of the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

 

Exam results helpline

Don’t panic if you don’t get the results you are hoping for in this year’s standard and higher exams. Help is at hand!

As students await their results via e-mail and text on 4 August and by post the following day, the exam results helpline on 0808 100 8000 will go live.

Skills Development Scotland’s chief executive Damien Yeates said: “Our helpline will be live from 2pm on 4 August to offer young people and their parents all the advice they need as soon as the results are sent.

“The message is that if people don’t get the results they were hoping for they shouldn’t panic. They should call the helpline and speak to our advisers who can give the information, advice and assistance that they need.”

The Exam results helpline will run from 8am until 8pm on 5 and 6 August, and from 9am until 6pm weekdays and 9am until 5pm weekends until 28 August.

Teenager banned from driving

A NINETEEN year old Shetland man was banned from driving when he appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court, on Monday morning.

Michael Goodlad, of 40 Hoofields, Lerwick pled guilty of being almost three times the legal limit when arrested by police in the town’s Grodians area in the early hours of Saturday.

Sentence on Goodlad was deferred until 14 December when he has also other matters calling at the court. He was disqualified in the interim.

Meanwhile, police said over the weekend they had also arrested an 81 year old in North Roe and a 21 year old in Whalsay in relation to alleged drink driving offences.

Chief inspector Angus MacInnes said they would continue to target those still willing to risk their own and the lives of others by drink or drug driving. 

The area commander said: "It is disappointing that some drivers are continuing to ignore the law and are prepared to risk their own safety and that of other road users.

"The consequences of drink driving can be devastating in many ways. If people choose to drink and drive, it could lead to a court conviction, a criminal record, loss of their licence and fines.

“Drivers are also reminded should they get caught drink or drug driving for a second time, then the court may seize their vehicle and it will either be sold or destroyed.

"The ultimate penalty is of course the potential loss of life on our roads as a result of drink driving."

ADS cuts damaging to local communities

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott with the ADS survey - Photo: James StewartBusiness and charities in Shetland are being hit hard by the loss of the Air Discount Scheme (ADS), a survey commissioned by isles MSP Tavish Scott has found.

The vast majority of organisations surveyed said the changes to the ADS scheme had forced them to change the way they operate.

They also said that they had not been aware of the changes to the ADS scheme until contacted by the local MSP.

As transport minister, Mr Scott was largely responsible for the introduction of the ADS in 2006.

Providing a 40 per cent discount, the scheme was an effort to tackle air high fares on lifeline services between Scottish islands and mainland Scotland.

In April 2011, the Scottish Government removed the discount from journeys undertaken by businesses, the public sector and voluntary organisations.

In response, Mr Scott and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur commissioned a survey in order to unearth the impact of this decision on island communities.

The two Lib-Dem MSPs now hope to be able to present the results to Scottish government ministers Keith Brown and Alex Neil in an attempt to persuade them to reverse the decision.

But transport minister Keith Brown is already on record saying ADS was not designed to help stimulate economic activity.

The Shetland survey received 57 responses, representing 1817 employees and 239 volunteers, and found that the majority of businesses had to either increase their transport budgets or simply cut down on the quantity of flights.

Those who had to increase their travelling budgets had to do so by an average of £2,700, while the 30 per cent of organisations who said they could not afford to spend more on air travel have either been forced to take the boat or miss vital meetings and conferences.

One of the survey’s respondents said: “It is difficult enough to market goods outside Shetland – travel, hotels, extra time involved – without this latest increase in costs.”

Another echoed those sentiments by saying: “The loss of the ADS support for business flights is going to have a big negative impact and may mean we have to scale back our ambitions”.

Mr Scott said: "The Scottish Government say they will listen to evidence and a good argument. Shetland has produced the evidence – 86 per cent of local voluntary and charitable bodies and businesses are hit by the cuts to ADS.

James Stewart

A van named Sue

Kevin Riley filling up the new vehicle - Photo: SNHSTAFF at the Scottish Natural Heritage office in Lerwick have taken delivery of a electric vehicle as part of a drive to cut carbon emissions.

Named Sue after office minutes referring to ‘electric use’ were mistyped as ‘electric sue’, the Peugeot Partner van, modified to run on lithium-ion batteries at a cost of £40,000, is the organisation’s first fully electric vehicle.

A full charge from a normal mains socket takes around eight hours and gives Sue a range of at least 65 miles depending on driving habits.

 

Staff are now getting into the habit of charging Sue in the garage overnight ready for use the following day.

Kevin Riley of the local SNH office said: "The electrics, the wipers, radio and lights work from the normal battery so the worst of the Shetland weather is not going to cause us to run out of power on the way home.

"There are no gears or clutch pedal, but unlike an automatic gearbox, the motor simply delivers an increasing amount of power relative to throttle pressure.”

Text has been added to the rear of the van to advise people that the vehicle is fully electric.

"Apart from the tyres, the vehicle is almost silent and staff have been asked to take extra care when performing manoeuvres because of this and an extra loud reversing alarm has been fitted by the manufacturer.

"The acceleration is surprisingly normal and the vehicle will go up to 60mph on the main roads. But with no motorways in Shetland this is all we're ever going to need,” Mr Riley said

SNH staff in Lerwick are currently analysing the vehicle's impact on electricity use. Depending on the tariff used the cost in electric is estimated at around 2p a mile.

The conversion costs were met by the Scottish government under a Transport Scotland initiative to help public bodies and local authorities meet the initial costs of low carbon transport. SNH paid the cost for the normal diesel vehicle, which were around £10,000.

Put the magic back into Christmas shopping

Please click on the banner to go to the Christmas shopping guide.The Shetland News has put together a new Essential Christmas Shopping Guide for our readers.  The feature intends to present islanders with an overview of retail in Shetland; not just our favourite bricks and mortar shops but also to highlight all the exciting developments in the virtual Shetland retail market which continues to grow and develop. 

Please use the banners and guides to browse a selection of Shetland stores and remind yourself just how much fun shopping in town can be: have a meal, coffee and a chat with friends or family.

Over the next six weeks the features, promotions and discounts will be regularly updated. In addition a photo advent calendar will be starting on 1 December and an exciting competition will be running during the final 12 days in the run-up to Christmas. 

All the banners reveal up-to-date store and product information, promotions and discounts, and some contain ‘mini-catalogues’ ready to be browsed.

CLAN to open Lerwick centre

CLAN chief executive Debbie ThomsonTHE ABERDEEN-based cancer charity CLAN are to convert the former Lerwick vet practice into a drop in centre and charity shop.

Chief executive Debbie Thomson said that when the lease is signed it will realise a dream of having a base in Shetland, after local folk raised £600,000 towards the building of the new CLAN Haven in the city.

CLAN has won such huge support in the islands because of the number of people who have used its services while loved ones received treatment at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Ms Thomson said that early next year they hope to appoint a co-ordinator to set up and run the Lerwick premises, on Commercial Road.

The new facilities will offer emotional support, therapies and information for people with cancer and their friends and family.

“We are really so excited about it and looking forward to working with everyone on the island,” she said.

“I promised this some time ago after the tremendous fund raising effort from the local people to our new build in Aberdeen, but I am realising a dream and it is part of our vision that we provide services in Shetland.”

The charity shop will aim to raise the fund to keep the local centre going. “We don’t want to start offering services in a local community and then find that down the road we couldn’t find the finances to continue,” Ms Thomson said.

“We know of the of the value of the much needed services that are in the community, so we want to make sure that it is sustainable.

Hiroshima Exhibition until Friday

The exhibition in the council chamber is only on until Friday afternoon - Photo: Austiin TaylorCOUNCIL Convener Sandy Cluness has opened a two day exhibition of photographs about the bombing of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The exhibition at the Lerwick town hall, donated by the major of Nagasaki and organised by Nuclear Free Local Authorities and Mayors for Peace, is open to the public during office hours. It closes at 4pm on Friday.

Mr Clunees, one of the first mayors for peace in Scotland, said it was important that Shetland played its small part to prevent that anything like it will ever happen again.

“This past Sunday we stood across the road in remembrance of those Shetlanders who had lost their lives in two world wars. In the first war alone, 600 died, roughly one in every thirty of the population, so virtually every family in Shetland knew of the loss of a loved one.

“Nowadays, thanks to digital television, it is possible through the history channels to see actual footage of the bombs raining down on London or Dresden and of course the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“At 8.15am on 6 August 1945 the people in Hiroshima were doing exactly what we have done today – men women and children got up, were having breakfast, getting ready to go to school or work.

“Yet there are still enough nuclear weapons around us to wipe out the entire human race. That is why throughout the world countless millions of ordinary people like us are determined that these monstrous scenes shown in this exhibition should never be repeated,” Mr Cluness said.

So far more than 50,000 in the UK have had the chance to see the exhibition. It will continue around the country, including a visit to the Scottish Parliament. It will be at Westminster in time for the 2012 Olympics.

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