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Drunken brawl lands three in dock

A DRUNKEN brawl landed three friends with a hefty fine at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Simon Edwards, aged 37, of 24 Leaside, Firth, and 24 year old Adam Chapman, of 67 Sandveien, Lerwick, both unemployed, admitted threatening and abusive behaviour along with 40 year old chef Dean Hastings, of 12 Ladies Drive, who also admitted brandishing a metal bar.

The court heard that the three men got into a violent fracas in a house at Hoofields, Lerwick, that spilled out onto the street at around 8.30pm on 13 July, at which the point the police were called to physically break it up.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said that Hastings had picked up a car jack handle from a nearby vehicle to try and extricate himself from the fight, but it had been taken off him before he used it.

Sheriff Philip Mann fined Hastings £400 because of the weapon, while restricting the fine for other two to £300 each.

The sheriff also imposed a £400 fine on 27 year old fish factory worker Barry Dutton, of 15 Bank Lane, Lerwick, after he pled guilty to assaulting another man during an argument over money in the town’s Commercial Street at 11.30am on 26 February.


Woman banned after drive to shop

A FIFTY nine year old woman has been banned from the road after she admitted driving while more than twice the legal limit for alcohol when she appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Police were called after local people became concerned when they saw Barbara Jacobs, of South by Ronas, Assater, Hillswick, driving to the local shop at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon to purchase alcohol and other goods.

Procurator Duncan Mackenzie said that she was driving at just 11 miles per hour and veering about the road.

Mr Mackenzie said that when police went to her house she was so shocked to see them she dropped a bottle of wine she was holding, but then denied that anybody had been driving her car that day.

Sheriff Philip Mann deferred sentence for four weeks for reports after hearing that Jacobs already had two previous drink driving convictions, and disqualified her in the meantime.

MP/MSP press OFT on heating oil

SHETLAND’S MP and MSP have demanded an urgent meeting with the Office of Fair Trading after it refused to intervene in the domestic heating oil market.

Alistair Carmichael and Tavish Scott are angry after the consumer watchdog claimed that there was no need for price regulation because the heating oil market remains competitive, though it accepted some suppliers might be abusing their position.

While the OFT insists 97 per cent of the UK has a choice of four or more suppliers, Shetland and Orkney rely on a single supplier of fuel to heat homes.

Fuel suppliers have warned that prices are likely to rise further this winter, and the government is coming under pressure to regulate the market.

Mr Carmichael said: “In their report the OFT made much of the range of suppliers available in many areas of the country, but the simple fact is that people in the northern isles have little or no choice when it comes to deciding where to buy their heating oil.

“People in Orkney and Shetland are forced to buy from one source and given the high prices we have seen in recent years I think there is a real case for the OFT to look again at our local market.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the OFT to discuss this issue.” Mr Scott added: “This report reinforces the cast iron case for a full OFT investigation into the cost that islanders are paying.

“There is no market in Shetland and we are being hammered by a monopoly distributor. It’s time for action to help households who pay a higher percentage of their income on heating their home than anywhere else in the UK.”

In brief for 19 October 2011

Fish into fuel

FISH waste could be turned into biofuels to run vehicles and plant, according to the Shetland Renewable Energy Forum, which is hosting a workshop on the subject next month.

Anyone interested, including fish catching, farming and processing interests, are invited to attend at Scalloway’s NAFC Centre on 1 November from 4pm to 6pm.

SREF development officer Robin Sampson said there could be enough waste material in Shetland to generate significant quantities of fuel, such as biogas that could be bottled.

SREF are also interested in the potential of livestock waste and the Shetland Amenity Trust proposal for short rotation coppicing using fast growing willow-like shrubs for biomass.

“There are plenty of ideas and possibilities for biofuel and biomass production in Shetland, and we think that given government incentives and the high price of more conventional fuels, these are commercially viable,” he said.

“What we would like to do now is to try and find some partners to try and take these ideas forward to the next stage of development.”

Anyone interested can contact Mr Sampson on 01595 694986 or email info@shetlandrenewableenergyforum.com

Council cutbacks

PEOPLE throughout the isles are being invited to a series of public meetings on how the council can cut its spending by £26 million over the next two years.

Councillors and officers plan to present “the bare facts” about the council’s financial situation and invite people to suggest ways to save money.

SIC interim head of finance Hazel Sutherland said: “The bottom line is that we have to cut council spending considerably; £26 million is a lot of money, but we simply cannot afford to raid our reserves any further.

“These meetings are an opportunity for members of the Shetland public to have their say on how we spend and save their money.

“Each meeting will start at 7pm. With the scale of challenge we are facing, I think it’s really important we get a good turnout."

The meeting timetable is:
Cunningsburgh Hall –Wednesday 26 October
Scalloway Hall - Thursday 27 October
Bixter Hall – Monday 31 October
Symbister Hall – Tuesday 1 November
Brae Hall – Wednesday 2 November
Sound Hall – Thursday 3 November
Cullivoe Hall – Thursday 10 November

More information can be found at http://www.shetland.gov.uk/sport/councilspendinghaveyoursay.asp and suggestions can be made at savings@shetland.gov.uk

Mobile investment

MOBILE phone usage in Shetland could soon be revolutionised by a £150 million investment in new transmission masts, according to northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

The UK government funding should significantly improving communications in the far north, he said, allowing rural mobile users access to 3G networks and lay the foundation for a 4G upgrade. 

“Poor mobile phone signal is a problem that has refused to go away since I was first elected in 2001. For too long, people in the northern isles and across the highlands and islands have been at the back of the queue when it comes to network improvements and there are still a number of black spots around the isles.  

“Homes and businesses across northern Scotland still do not have access to the level of internet and mobile phone services they need and the coalition government is committed to rectifying this situation.”

More information can be found at  http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_112_11.htm

HSE anger

THE FARMERS union has joined Shetland islands Council in condemning charges being proposed for investigations by the Health and Safety Executive.

HSE are proposing a charge of £133 per hour for each intervention for a breach of health and safety law, such as writing emails or letters, and an inspection could cost £750.

The NFUS said this had nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with paying for the 35 per cent cut in the HSE budget.

Religion debate

“Religion and education don’t mix” is the motion being proposed at the next Althing debate in Tingwall school on Saturday 29 October.

Speaking for will be Sylvija Crook and Dorothy Harcus, and in opposition are martin Tregonning and Bobby Hunter.

Last month the debate resulted in a vote saying there were justifications for rioting.

Assault victim admits drugs charge

THE VICTIM of a serious assault in Shetland last May finally appeared in court on Wednesday to face drugs charges from last year. 

Jamie Thomson, aged 35, of 66 Sandveien, Lerwick, was arrested after police searched his house on 25 September last year and found electronic scales, tick lists and just over 100 grammes of amphetamine worth over £1,000. 

He initially appeared in court in January, but four months later he was seriously assaulted by two men in his home, for which the pair were sentenced to nine years in prison in August. 

This week Thomson was well enough to appear in court, but procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said he was still needing hospital appointments to deal with the consequences of the assault. 

Mr Mackenzie said: “He’s not the same man and his likelihood or ability to offend in the future has been severely curtailed because of that.” 

He added that the prosecution accepted that Thomson only intended to supply a circle of close associates with the drugs, and accepted a not guilty plea for possession of methadone, two types of cannabis and diazepam. 

Deferring sentence for four weeks, Sheriff Graeme Napier said he had to take his circumstances into consideration. 

The sheriff said: “I am not trying to diminish the seriousness of this offending but I have to sentence who appears before me and not the person who committed the offence, and you are not the same person you were on 25 September, which is quite clear from your presentation in court.”

Community work for touching up WPC

A LERWICK teenager who admitted sexually assaulting a policewoman in July and failing to register as a sex offender was given 80 hours community service at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday. 

Eighteen year old Brydon Robertson, of 2 Nordavatn, had pled guilty to grabbing the officer’s backside and making lewd and abusive comments when she and a colleague visited his house on 16 July. 

He also admitted failing to register as a sex offender at Lerwick police station two months later on 12 September. 

Defence agent Tommy Allan said that Robertson had lost his fish factory job as a result this case and through sickness, and had built up arrears of almost £2,000 for rent and paying back a student bursary. 

Sheriff Graeme Napier said there was no point in ordering him to pay compensation to the policewoman, and placed him on a nine month supervision order during which he must remain on the sex offenders register. 

He also told Robertson that he should complete his community service within four months, or he would consider sending him to prison.


Isles shocked by schools decision

THE SCOTTISH government have left two island communities in Shetland in a state of shock after deciding only one of two primary schools threatened with closure can stay open. 

Education secretary Mike Russell told Shetland Islands Council on Wednesday that their decision in May to close the Burravoe primary on Yell was “flawed” and could not go ahead “as things currently stand”. 

However he said the council had fulfilled its statutory obligations when councillors voted to close Uyeasound on neighbouring Unst, despite the primary having the best inspection report in the country. 

The school will now close on 21 December and the 11 pupils will be transferred to the primary department at Baltasound junior high school, saving the authority an estimated £100,000 a year. 

Uyeasound parents council chairman Derek Jamieson said that one local had already indicated they would probably be leaving the island as a result and more might follow. 

“The community is devastated. This is the finest primary school in Scotland and yet the minister does not think it would be detrimental for the children to go to another school,” Mr Jamieson said. 

“I seriously question how the council will demonstrate the educational benefit, which they will have to do. Whether it will save money, which is why they are doing this, is also open to question.” 

Burravoe parent council chairman Steven Brown could not hide his delight at the news, but admitted that they would probably be fighting against closure again in the near future. 

Mr Brown said he believed one of the reasons ministers had decided to keep Burravoe school open was because the primary department at Mid Yell, where the 11 pupils would be sent, received a poor report during the summer. 

He said: “I have no doubt this will rear its head in two years time or less, but in the meantime I have to say on behalf of the parent council we are delighted with the result for Burravoe. 

“We just can’t believe how Uyeasound has been treated differently because the Baltasound report wasn’t just any great shakes compared to the Uyeasound report, which was the best in Scotland.” 

SIC head of children and families Helen Budge admitted that this had been a very unsettled time for the parents and pupils in the two primary schools, but now they would be concentrating on the transition for the Uyeasound pupils.

The council will have to provide annual reports to ministers demonstrating how the Unst children’s education is benefitting from the change. 

“Of course we will be keeping a close eye on this and making sure that the educational benefits are met and we have a quality assurance team in place,” Mrs Budge said.

She added that the department would have to look at other ways to save the £100,000 saving expected from closing Burravoe. 

The council has already closed the junior high school in Scalloway and transferred its 116 pupils to Lerwick’s Anderson High School, however they voted to retain the tiny secondary department on the isles of Out Skerries as well as the primary schools in Sandness and North Roe.

The council is trying to save £26 million from its revenue budget over the next two years.



In brief for 18 October 2011

Boats shelter in Lerwick harbour ready for Tuesday night's gales. Pic. Chris BrownShelter from the storm

TWENTY six fishing boats from Norway and Ireland settled into Lerwick harbour on Tuesday night, along with several local vessels and 10 oil supply boats as gales were forecast.


New Eric Gray

PLANNING permission for a new £4.5 million Eric Gray Centre to be built on Lerwick’s Seafield sports field was unanimously granted by the council’s planning board on Tuesday.

The current building is unable to cope with demand from adults with special needs, whose numbers are expected to double in the next decade.

Council staff told the planning board that lack of space was forcing young people to stay at the ASN department in Gressy Loan for far too long.

Councillor Jonathan Wills spoke up on behalf of objectors to the plan, who wanted the site to kept as a recreational amenity.


Rugby boost

SHETLAND’S oldest sports club is to get a boost with a full time rugby development officer being funded by the European LEADER fund, the Scottish Rugby Union and private sponsors.

The successful applicant will be based at Lerwick’s Hayfield House with the council’s active schools team for the next two years.

As well as providing coaching in schools, there could be summer schools and rugby camps to encourage young people to get involved in the sport, which has seen a burst of growth recently.

Shetland Rugby Club president Forbes Hogg said they hopes to eventually have a team joining Orkney and the western isles competing in the Scottish Schools Cup every year.


Between Weathers

THE PRODUCTION team of the movie planned for Shetland hope to have finished filming in the isles by the end of the first half of next year.

On Tuesdays they announced they had recruited 15 Scottish actors to join the crew that could start filming as early as February.

More than 1,000 people turned up at casting sessions in Aberdeen, Perth, Inverness and Lerwick, but none of the 15 new names came from the Lerwick sessions.


Mackerel talks

A NEW round of talks to break the deadlock in the north Atlantic mackerel dispute start in London on Wednesday, with more talks likely to follow.

The EU and Norway will once again try to broker an agreement with Faroe and Iceland over the mackerel quota, the most valuable to the Scottish and the Shetland fleet.

Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt described the mackerel stock as “an incredibly precious resource” and it was more important than ever to reach a deal on sustainability.


Safety first

FOLLOWING Monday’s discussions about the future of the coastguard’s emergency towing vessels, northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael said there was “a genuine commitment on all sides” to find a permanent replacement.

Mr Carmichael said: “This debate needs to focus on maritime safety as well as value for money. I think everyone – from the MCA to the local councils and the Scotland Office – recognises this and is committed to making this process work.”

Monday’s meeting in Edinburgh was convened by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, and included representatives from local councils, the Department for Transport, the MCA.


CAP proposals

RURAL affairs secretary Richard Lochhead has promised to keep the agricultural industry fully informed of developments as Europe discusses reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The government has promised to write to farmers explaining the proposals, to then run a public consultation with a series of public meetings throughout Scotland with senior government officials, update the government website and keep working with stakeholders on the issue.

The latest information will be available at www.scotland.gov.uk/capreform, while the government's deputy director for agriculture and rural development David Barnes will be blogging throughout the CAP reform negotiations at http://blogs.scotland.gov.uk/cap-reform/

Poor science threatens key fish quotas

TOUGH quota cuts could hit some of the Shetland fishing fleet’s most important species due to a lack of science, according to the islands’ fishermen.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association chairman Leslie Tait has warned that the level of discards will increase as a result.

He said that only four out of the main 10 white fish species caught by local trawlers were scientifically assessed for annual quotas.

Other species like monkfish, the most valuable for the islands’ fleet, face an annual 25 per cent cut due to the “precautionary principle” the European Commission is proposing for stocks where there is insufficient information.

Now Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is raising the matter in the Scottish Parliament, calling on the government to make sure that all the main species are covered by science.

Mr Tait said that the only species covered by scientific data were cod, haddock, saithe and plaice. “Those four only account for 45 per cent of the value of the Shetland white fish catch,” he said.

“For the other 55 per cent there is no science to give a full assessment, and they are suggesting where there is no full assessment there will be a year on year cut of 25 per cent.

“This will lead to more discards at the same time as the commission is calling out for a discard ban.”

As well as monkfish, species on which there is not enough data to make a full assessment for setting realistic quotas include megrim, ling, whiting, pollock, skate and lemon sole. Some of these species are actually increasing in number, Mr Tait said.

Mr Scott is now tabling parliamentary questions asking what changes the Scottish government are making to their science plans to incorporate these species.

He said: “That is an investment that is in everyone's interests as both the industry and government need a full and accurate understanding of the state of fish stocks.

“If nothing is done, then the European Commission will simply cut quotas by a quarter for our local fleet citing as evidence, the lack of evidence. So it makes sense for government to alter its science plans to cover these main species.”

However Mr Tait suggested the problem lay with the management system as a whole and other member states failing to produce scientific data, rather than the Scottish government.

Cash aid for Ocean Kinetics expansion

HIE's Mark Georgeson and Ocean Kinetics managing director John Henderson. Pic. Malcolm YoungerALMOST £750,000 of public money is being sunk into the huge expansion plans for Lerwick engineering firm Ocean Kinetics.

The company hopes to create 24 jobs when they open their £2 million state of the art facilities at the town’s Marina Business Park, opposite the power station.

As well as offices, workshops and storage areas, the new energy efficient premises will include a designated training area to bring on apprentices in various trades.

Managing director John Henderson said: “The new facility is part of our growth plan which will allow the company to expand as new opportunities arise, a key element of this is the recruiting and the training of new staff to help alleviate the skills shortage locally.”

Mr Henderson welcomed the financial assistance, £240,000 of which comes from Highlands and islands Enterprise with a further £500,000 from the government’s regional selective assistance scheme. Ocean Kinetics provide a wide range of engineering services to the oil and gas, renewable energy and marine sectors.

With the growth in marine renewables and major oil and gas developments in the region, the company is looking at increased business over the next few years.
Its main customers are BP and Fortum at Sullom Voe Terminal, Aberdeen Harbour Board, Dover Harbour Board and Scottish Water.

It has also recently set up a joint venture in Shetland called ZE1 Global OKL with Lerwick Engineering and Fabrication, Malakoff Ltd and Carisma RCT Ltd, to help it bid for larger contracts which the new premises will assist with.HIE head of business.

Mark Georgeson: "As a community Shetland has many of the required skills and expertise which will be needed to support the next stages of energy development in the North Sea. HIE is committed to continuing to work with our businesses and communities to provide support to maximise these fantastic opportunities.”


Salmon poisoning case slips through the net

THE SCOTTISH Green Party have hit out after the Scottish government allowed a case of salmon poisoning which last year killed more than 20,000 fish in Shetland to slip through the net.

Environment agency SEPA announced on Tuesday that they had abandoned an investigation against a Shetland salmon farm for using illegal chemicals in August 2010, despite overwhelming evidence.

More than one year after the inquiry into Hoganess Salmon began, SEPA have said that they are unable to pursue the company because of a legal technicality.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “This is a truly shocking case of environmental destruction and bureaucratic incompetence.

“A series of government agencies gathered strong evidence that illegal and dangerous chemicals were used at this salmon farm, chemicals that kill wildlife indiscriminately as well as killing salmon, yet none of them were prepared to act and bring prosecutions.”

The investigation was led by SEPA and animal charity SSPCA after 100 tonnes of farmed salmon died suddenly at the fish farm off Shetland’s west coast.

SSPCA officers submitted a report to the procurator fiscal five months later and two men were charged with cruelty to animals.

However the case relied on SEPA’s report, who were pursuing the company under regulations covering the discharge of chemicals into the sea from fish farms.

Fourteen months after the initial raid, SEPA this week announced that they had dropped the case, saying they had been using the wrong legislation as the discharges had been from a well boat on which the fish had been treated for sea lice.

Insiders say that highly toxic chemicals Deosect and Cyperguard, commonly used for treating horses and sheep for lice, were found during the raid on the fish farm. These chemicals are banned from the marine environment because they are so toxic and long lasting.

Salmon companies have long been accused of using such chemicals because sea lice have built up a resistance to authorised treatments, such as Excis, Salmosan and Alphamax.

Sea lice have been described as the industry’s biggest problem, and three years ago they cost Shetland’s salmon farmers millions of pounds in dead fish.

On Tuesday SEPA said: "Following discussion of the circumstances with the procurator fiscal, it was identified that there was no basis for taking action under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011, the legislation used by SEPA to regulate fish farms.”

However Marine Scotland, who should be responsible for this case, have also declined to submit a report to the fiscal.

A government spokeswoman said: “Given the time elapsed it would not now be appropriate or practical to pursue a case under another regulatory regime.”

She added: “Apparent infringements of this type are by their very nature particularly complex and establishing what has happened after the fact is less than straightforward.

“We will consider whether there are any lessons to be learned in terms of simplifying the regulatory regime as we develop proposals for the forthcoming Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.”

Patrick Harvie warned of a danger that the fish farming industry might feel they could get away with poisoning the environment.

“SNP ministers must give clear instructions to their agencies that these crimes matter and prosecutions will be brought, otherwise the impression will grow that they have no interest in protecting Scotland's waters if that means running up against their friends in the fish farming industry,” he said.

Hoganess Salmon is currently being investigated by the SSPCA for the unlawful killing of seals.

Mark Warrington, managing director with parent company Meridian Salmon, said that he had only just been appointed to replace Willie Liston, and he was not yet in a position to comment.

Gales disrupt freight and ferry service

GALE force winds and high seas have led NorthLink Ferries to cancel Tuesday night’s sailing of the passenger ferry Hjaltland and the freight boat Helliar from Aberdeen to Lerwick.

As a result there will be no ferry or freight boat leaving Lerwick for Aberdeen on Wednesday night.

The Hrossey is scheduled to depart from Lerwick for Aberdeen on Tuesday night on schedule at 7pm, and passengers and drivers are asked to check in as normal.

The freighter Hildasay is due to arrive in Kirkwall at 3pm after leaving Aberdeen after 4am in the morning.

Meanwhile NorthLink’s Pentland Firth service has been revised. Details can be found at www.northlinkferries.co.uk

In brief for 17 October 2011

Tug talks

SIC LEADER Josie Simpson joined other council and government representatives in Edinburgh on Monday to discuss future provision of coastguard emergency towing vessels.

Mr Simpson said they emerged from the talks with Scottish secretary Michael Moore with a united front, saying this was a UK government problem that could not be solved by local authorities.

He said there had been talk of finding funding from the oil and gas industry, and dual usage of the vessels on tasks like fisheries protection. The group is likely to meet again next month.

The government has found £3 million to keep the two Scottish tugs going until the end of the year until a more permanent solution can be found. 

Bike tests

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has welcomed steps to allow learner motorcyclists to take both parts of their test in Shetland.

As of last week learners are able to take the off road portion of their test at Anderson High School in Lerwick for the first time since it was introduced three years ago.

Mr Carmichael said that while the last government “shrugged its shoulders” when he complained about the difficulties the off road test would cause island riders, the coalition had responded.

He said: “The announcement that the Department for Transport is now working to make more testing slots available at non-Driving Standards Agency sites is welcome. 

“I know that the lack of approved testing facilities in the isles has hit local driving instructors hard and hope that this change will give them a boost as we wait for details of the new, simplified testing process to emerge.”

AMEC win Clair contract

GLOBAL engineering consultants AMEC have won a £150 million contract to build the main platforms for the Clair Ridge project, announced by oil giant BP last week.

Clair Ridge is the second phase of the Clair field, 40 miles north west of Shetland, which BP hopes will start production in 2016, piping 120,000 barrels of oil a day into Sullom Voe terminal until 2050.

Work has already started on designing the two platforms which will be linked by a bridge and are scheduled to be installed offshore in 2015.

Fraud warning

SHOPKEEPERS in the far north are being warned about a telephone scam that lost a Highland shop £500.

A caller phoned the shop in Golspie telling the staff member they knew the owner, before persuading them to generate two £250 Paypoint vouchers and tell them the unique numbers.

When the assistant tried to take payment the caller hung up and the codes were used immediately on the internet.

Northern Constabulary want to hear from anyone who knows about this scam to call them on 01463 715555.


Public sector unions prepare for strikes

SHETLAND looks set to join the rest of the country in a winter of industrial action as public sector unions ballot on strike action.

On Monday night Shetland Islands Council and NHS members of public sector union Unison meet for a briefing on the dispute over pensions.

Regional organiser John Keggie is addressing the meeting at Lerwick’s Clickimin Leisure Complex to explain why the union is encouraging a yes vote.

Speaking before the meeting, branch chairman Brian Smith said that he fully expected members nationwide to vote for a 24 hour strike on 30 November, which would be followed by further action throughout the country, including Shetland.

“The government are proposing that we pay more and that we work longer and they are changing the way that benefits are calculated so that we get a smaller pension when we retire,” Mr Smith said.

“This is not a proposal to make the pension funds more viable, because these funds are actually in splendid shape. It’s a proposal to siphon off funds from these pension funds to deal with the deficit.

“This is grossly unfair and people are extremely annoyed about it. I am certain there will be a yes vote and we are likely to see industrial action taking place in Shetland over the next few months.”

Unison has 1,300 members in Shetland, and more than 1 million UK-wide, but several unions representing staff in councils, schools, the health service and other public sector jobs are also balloting their members.

Tiff over teddy bears

Wendy InksterA SKIRMISH has broken out in Shetland over the name of alocal teddy bear company.

Yorkshire-born businesswoman Gillian Ramsay has written to rival teddy bear maker Wendy Inkster threatening legal action if she continues to use the name Shetland Teddy Bear Company.Gillian Ramsay

The move comes months after Mrs Ramsay trademarked the name, having already won a patent row with supermarket giant Asda over the name Puffin Poo for her confectionary.

Mrs Inkster started making her teddy bears in 1997 when she sewed together an old Fair Isle jumper to make a gift for her sister’s wedding.

It was so popular that orders started coming in thick and fast and soon she had set up Burra Bears, named after the island on which she lives.

Now she sells around 40 bears a week through shops in Shetland and the rest of Scotland, employing three home workers to keep up with demand. Having run out of old jumpers she is now having Fair Isle knitwear specially made up for her.

For six years Mrs Inkster supplied Mrs Ramsay’s craft shops, which have been based in various locations around Lerwick.

By September 2006 demand had grown so much that Mrs Inkster was unable to supply bears to Mrs Ramsay’s Shetland Fudge Company and other shops in the run up to Christmas.

The following January Mrs Ramsay started selling her own teddy bears under the name The Shetland Teddy Bear Company.

Worried about the impact on her business, Mrs Inkster registered four internet domain names using the terms Shetland Teddy Bears and Shetland Teddy Bear Company, which redirected customers to the Burra Bears website.

Now however Mrs Ramsay has trademarked the name The Shetland Teddy Bear Company and written to Mrs Inkster, giving her 28 days to remove any reference to the name from any websites or literature linked to Burra Bears.

She concludes: “I have no axe to grind with you personally, and have enough to keep me busy without taking on another lengthy court case, but you should be in no doubt that we will take all steps necessary to protect our brand.”

When contacted, Mrs Ramsay said she had trademarked The Shetland Teddy Bear Company name only after spending four years fighting Asda for control of the name Puffin Poo.

She said she had no problem with Mrs Inkster using the terms Shetland Teddy Bears or The Original Shetland Teddy Bear, which appears on all Burra Bears’ labels, she just wanted to protect the name The Shetland Teddy Bear Company.

“She was probably not really aware of this trademark so we have politely brought it to her attention and asked her to stop using it. If she doesn’t she’s breaking trademark law and I think the patents office would get involved there. I have not looked into it because I assume she has no reason to use that trademark,” Mrs Ramsay said.

Mrs Inkster said she had spoken to a lawyer about the matter and believed she had done nothing wrong.

“I was shocked to receive this letter and the tone of it made me realise I had no choice but to seek legal advice,” she said.

“I have now written to Gillian denying any infringement of the trademark and I hope we can leave it at that.”

Ska explosion

Bombskare live at the British Legion on Friday night. Pic. Scott GoudieSCOTTISH ska ensemble Bombskare returned to Shetland with two shows over the weekend, their first in Shetland since the Shetland Rocks 2004 festival, writes James Stewart.

The band performed first at a packed Lerwick Legion on Friday, then concluded the mini-tour at the Scalloway Hall on Saturday. Despite their seven year absence, the 10-piece “ska juggernaut” maintains a respectable following in the isles, as shown by the large turnouts for both gigs.

Bombskare regularly tour mainland Scotland throughout the year, while also playing at festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe. Shetland is often missed due to the impracticality and cost of taking such a large group up to the isles.

Despite having changed some members over the years, the band has retained its floor-filling upbeat sound. Launching into their set on Friday they played classics such as “I’m So Happy” and “Crime of the Century” – the latter dedicated to those involved in the “Occupy” protests around the world. After nearly two hours, the band closed their set with fan favourite ‘Beatriz’, to the joy of the exhausted revelers.


Police seek help with investigation

SHETLAND police have asked anyone who has been offered a mountain bike or sporting equipment for sale to come forward to help them with an investigation.

The request follows a report that two male youths have been charged with breaking into commercial premises in Lerwick.

It is understood the police are investigating thefts that may have taken place over the past two months and they would be interested in hearing from anyone with information that might be of help.

Police also report that a 24 foot motor boat berthed at Hay’s Dock in the town was damaged some time last week between Wednesday and Friday. Again they request any information to help with their enquiries.

Meanwhile officers were called out after a number of complaints about loud music in Lerwick over the weekend. Several householders received warnings and one was charged.

Anyone wishing to contact the police can call Lerwick police station on 01595 692110.

Police seek help with investigation

SHETLAND police have asked anyone who has been offered a mountain bike or sporting equipment for sale to come forward to help them with an investigation.

The request follows a report that two male youths have been charged with breaking into commercial premises in Lerwick.

It is understood the police are investigating thefts that may have taken place over the past two months and they would be interested in hearing from anyone with information that might be of help.

Police also report that a 24 foot motor boat berthed at Hay’s Dock in the town was damaged some time last week between Wednesday and Friday. Again they request any information to help with their enquiries.

Meanwhile officers were called out after a number of complaints about loud music in Lerwick over the weekend. Several householders received warnings and one was charged.

Anyone wishing to contact the police can call Lerwick police station on 01595 692110.

Music with a difference

Svara Kanti at Bigton Hall on Friday night Pic. Billy FoxEast met west at Bigton Hall last night. To a modest but appreciative audience, Simon Thacker and the Svara-Kanti ensemble gave a virtuoso performance with a difference. Left to right - singer Japjit Kaur, tabla player Sarvar Sabri, violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, and guitarist Simon Thacker. They are holding a free workshop on Saturday afternoon in the Garrison Theatre at 3pm with a further evening concert at 7.30pm.

Petrofac deny cheap labour claim

PETROFAC, the oil construction firm building Total’s new gas plant at Sullom Voe, have denied claims it has employed cheap labour on the site.

The GMB trade union has said its members have reported more than 100 foreign workers have been taken on by the global company.

Petrofac said that it had not employed any non-UK labour on the site.

However GMB general secretary Paul Kenny insisted: “GMB members in the engineering construction industry have reported to the union that a large number of workers from other parts of the world – over 100-  have been brought into Shetland by Petrofac while skilled workers unemployed in Scotland and the rest of the UK have been given no opportunity to apply for this work.”

He said the contract had reached the stage where metal fabrication and pipe workers were being taken on.

“There are a large number of highly skilled engineering construction workers unemployed both in Scotland and the rest of the UK. They are demanding to know why they have been denied the opportunity to apply for these jobs.

“GMB will require proof that not only is there no discrimination against the indigenous workforce but that workers from overseas are not being exploited by undercutting the agreed rates of pay.”

Petrofac issued a statement saying it had not employed any non UK labour for engineering and construction of the Shetland gas plant.

"Petrofac intends to commence recruitment of its construction workforce in mid-2012 and is committed to recruiting personnel from across the UK where appropriate.
"GMB's statement is inaccurate and we will address this with them directly."

The union had a run in with Total at the Lindsey refinery in England in 2009 over a similar issue, when Italian sub contractor IREM employed European workers on site.


Tugs back on the job

Anglian Sovereign

TWO emergency towing vessels are being brought back into service for three months, the government announced on Friday.

Scotland has been without cover from the coastguard tugs for two weeks since the Maritime & Coastguard Agency ended it contract as part of the government’s cost cutting measures.

At the 11th hour the government staged a U turn and agreed to spend £3 million extending the contract for three months, but it has taken a fortnight to put the deal in place.

Now the Anglian Sovereign will patrol waters around the northern isles and the Anglian Monarch will cover the western isles. The Anglian Sovereign is expected in Shetland on Saturday morning, while the Anglian Monarch will be in Stornoway on Sunday night.

The government is still trying to persuade the oil and gas industry to contribute towards the cost of keeping the tugs going, after the Department of Transport said it had no cahs to spend.

The Scotland Office is leading efforts to replace the tugs on a permanent basis and Scottish secretary Michael Moore will chair a meeting of the emergency towing vessel group in his Edinburgh office on Monday.

Shetland Islands Council leader Josie Simpson is expected to attend along with Orkney’s convener Stephen Hagan, representatives from Highland and Western Isles Councils and the MCA.

Northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael welcomed the news on Friday afternoon, saying: “This is a most welcome development and reflects the hard work done by ministers, the MCA and the Scotland Office.

“It will be welcome news throughout the northern isles and it is important now that we focus on getting a long term solution in place as quickly as possible.

“I look forward to working with colleagues in government on this to ensure that out shipping and coastline is properly protected.”

Scottish secretary Michael Moore said: "Ministers are working hard to try and broker a deal for 2012 and beyond and I will chair a meeting of the ETV group in Edinburgh on Monday to take this work forward urgently.

"I am confident we can work towards a long-term solution for the ETVs and we will be working with a wide range of stakeholders, including the oil and gas industry, towards that goal."

In brief for 13 October 2011

Hjaltland Seafarms' two new workboats Curlew and Crusader before they left Norway, where they were built.

New salmon boats

SHETLAND’S largest seafood company Grieg Seafood Hjaltland has announced the delivery of two new workboats to service sites off the Lunna peninsula.

The Crusader and Curlew were designed and built by Bergen Group Skarveland in Norway at a cost of £900,000.

Managing director Michael Stark said: “The workboats have been purpose built to our exact specifications. We have been able to stipulate deck layout, crane position, lifting capacity, engine capacity and boat mobility, to ensure that they meet with our current and future requirements.

“The boats will improve working conditions for our employees and, at the same time, help us maintain and develop the exacting farming standards that we have developed over the years.”

Grieg Seafood Hjaltland claims to be the largest private sector employer in Shetland, supporting between 185 and 200 jobs.


School closures delayed

SHETLAND Islands Council has delayed the proposed closure of primary schools in Uyeasound and Burravoe until after the Christmas holidays.

The decision comes as a result of Scottish education secretary Mike Russell failing to rule on the council’s decision to close the schools, after calling the matter in on 23 June.

The following month Mr Russell announced a year long moratorium on school closures while he established a Commission on Rural Education (CRE).

On Thursday the CRE opened a consultation on the future of rural schools that will run until 12 January.

More information on the call for evidence and the commission is available at The Call for Evidence questionnaire is available at www.commissionruraleducation.org.


Extra Up Helly Aa ferry

NORTHLINK is laying on an extra sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick n Saturday 28 January next year to cater for expected demand ahead of the 2012 Lerwick Up Helly Aa.

The move follows the company’s decision to schedule its nine week dry dock period for its three ferries on 23 January, during which Shetland will rely on a single ferry operating every other day except Saturdays when there will be no ferry at all.

With the fire festival attracting an ever growing number of visitors to the islands, NorthLink have said they will run a day time ferry leaving Aberdeen at 10am on 28 January arriving at Lerwick at 8pm, then departing Lerwick at 10pm to arrive in Aberdeen at 8am the following day.


NorthLink profits

FERRY operator NorthLink made a profit of £1.4 million last year, down from £2.3 million the year before.

The company’s 2010/11 financial statement was published on Thursday, revealing a four per cent increase in freight, a one per cent increase in passengers but a three per cent decline in car traffic.

The government grant last year rose from £34.4 million to £36 million, and income from fares and other sources increased to £25.1 million from £23.8 million. The company paid a £1 million dividend to the government.

The company achieved almost 100 per cent on all its targets, including punctuality and reliability and received a ‘healthy living’ award from the Scottish government.

The financial statement can be read here.


Help for first time buyers

FIRST time house buyers could benefit from an extra £4.65 million pumped into the Scottish government’s Open Market Shared Equity scheme (OMSE) to help people on low incomes onto the housing ladder.

The government claims to have already helped 5,600 people buy their first home, and says the extra cash will help a further 250 households nationwide.

The OMSE scheme allows people to buy between 60 and 80 per cent of a home, while the government funds the remainder through an interest free equity stake. The money can be repaid at any time, or as a proportion of the sale price if they move.

More information is available at www.scotland.gov.uk/LIFT


Fishy questions

SCOTTISH Tory MEP Struan Stevenson is raising concerns about proposed reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, which has just got seriously underway.

He said fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said the EC’s lawyers had said it could be breach treaties to pass powers over fisheries back to member states.

Mr Stevenson, who represents the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, also suggested the introduction of an international trade in quotas could see wealthy Spanish fishing companies buying up all of Scotland’s quotas, which could be set for 15 years.

Finally he questioned the proposed ban on discards, asking why the EC still calls undersized or out of quota fish “illegal”. He said: “These questions are all crucial to the effective working of an improved Common Fisheries Policy, and we on the fisheries committee look forward to receiving swift responses to them.

“If our legal advice differs significantly from that of the commission this is a debate that could end up in the European courts.”


No boundary change

THE NORTHERN isles constituency held by Alistair Carmichael MP for the Liberal Democrats is to be protected during sweeping changes to electoral boundaries in Scotland.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland has proposed reducing the number of Scotish MPs sitting in Westminster from 59 to 52 to iron out discrepancies in population.

The northern and western isles have been exempted from rules that say constituencies should contain between 72,810 and 80,473 voters.

A final report on changes will not be made for two years.

Urquhart demands ferry apology

HIGHLANDS and islands SNP MSP Jean Urquhart has demanded an apology from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott for saying the Scottish government did not care about the islands.

Mr Scott’s comments on Tuesday followed news the government had refused to charter a replacement ferry during the extended dry dock period for the NorthLink ferries, which will leave the isles with a single ferry for nine weeks next year.

However while Mrs Urquhart accused the Liberal Democrat of political posturing, Mr Scott hit back with a list of issues on which the SNP is letting Shetland down.

Mrs Urquhart said: “The dry docks system was created as part of a contract Tavish Scott signed when he was transport minister.

“I am sorry that Tavish Scott continues to lash out at the government on purely political grounds rather than offer alternatives. It is clearly he who cares less about Shetland and more about his own political positioning.

“The current Scottish government has safeguarded ports to the islands whilst also subsidising three ferry services. All of these measures were safeguards put in place whilst facing £600,000 in cuts from the Tory and Lib Dem Westminster coalition government.

“Whilst it is troubling that this dry dock season is to be extended, I understand this decision was made by NorthLink ferries for what they regard as necessary extra maintenance to their vessels.”

The Shetland MSP retorted with a list of complaints against the current Scottish government, including:

a failure to make a decision on the fate of Uyeasound and Burravoe primary schools;
retention of the road equivalent tariff for the western isles alone;
failure to review the withdrawal of the air discount scheme for business and public agency passengers;
cuts in the budget for Shetland College.

He said: “Instead of sitting in the central belt with a clear objective to have a single service delivered across the whole of Scotland, they need to recognise the islands are different and I am afraid our list MSP simply has not got that yet.

“Here’s hoping she will learn something in the next five years.”

BP extends future of Sullom Voe

SHETLAND’S political leaders have welcomed news that the working life of Sullom Voe oil terminal has been extended until 2050.

On Thursday morning oil giant BP announced a £4.5 billion investment in the UK’s largest oil and gas resource, the Clair field north west of Eshaness.

The Clair Ridge project due to come on stream in 2016 could produce up to 640 million barrels of oil and provide hundreds of jobs over its 34 year life.

Furthermore the Clair partners – BP, ConocoPhillips and Chevron – have successfully appraised an extension to the field dubbed South West Clair, and found more hydrocarbon reserves, which could prove the field is even bigger than the currently known seven billion barrels of oil and gas.

While Clair oil and gas will flow through Sullom Voe, there is less certainty about the direction of travel of Schiehallion oil currently transhipped via the terminal and accounting for 40 per cent of its business.

BP’s £3 billion redevelopment of the west of Shetland Schiehallion and Loyal fields could lead to transhipment direct to market, losing the terminal and the council’s harbour operation valuable business.

Nevertheless council leader Josie Simpson was upbeat about Thursday’s developments. “This is great news for Shetland. When you go back to when oil first came to Shetland the terminal should have been shut by now. They are now talking about 2050.

“It’s never going to be up at the peak of what it was at the height of it, but it’s going to extend the life of Sullom Voe.”

However Mr Simpson said that while the Clair Ridge project would feed money into the local economy, it would not alleviate the financial problems the council faces.

“We have to keep going down the same road that we are travelling on at the moment for the next two or three years,” he said.

Lerwick North councillor and former Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Allan Wishart said he believed the news would instil confidence in Shetland’s business sector.

“This puts a big injection of confidence into the community. I don’t think it’s going to be anything like the volume of activity we saw in the ‘80s, but nevertheless there will be a big spin off for the economy – for transport, for the harbours, engineering and accommodation right through to the local shops.

“The caveat is that I don’t think there is going to be the windfall that we have seen over the past 30 years when money piled up in the charitable trust and the council.”

BP said it would be using the latest technology to maximise recovery from the fields, including the world’s first offshore deployment of advanced LoSal low salinity water reservoir injection at Clair Ridge.

The development will see two new, bridge-linked platforms installed in 2015 with a design life of 40 years. To reduce their environmental impact, they will be powered by dual fuel power generators, incorporating waste heat recovery technology. Vapour recovery will also be used to capture and recycle low pressure gas for use as fuel or for exporting to shore.

The partners are looking to employ polymer flood technology on the Schiehallion and Loyal fields redevelopment to improve the sweep of the reservoir and overall recovery of oil.

Speaking in Aberdeen on Thursday, BP’s group chief executive Bob Dudley said the company was making its largest ever investment in a single year of £4 billion in the four projects at Clair, Schiehallion, Loyal and Devenick, in the central North Sea.

This follows a £1 billion sale of the company’s assets following last year’s catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the worst ever.

“We have a major presence in the North Sea today, operating around 40 oil and gas fields, four onshore terminals and a network of pipelines that transport almost half of the UK’s oil and gas production. And as demonstrated by today’s announcements, the region still offers competitive, attractive investment opportunities which we will pursue,” Mr Dudley said.

Prime minister David Cameron was in Aberdeen during a rare trip to Scotland to herald the investment and stress the importance of the oil and gas industry to the UK economy.

However first minister Alex Salmond was quick to criticise the Westminster coalition for its tax hike on the offshore industry, saying that the amount of development would have been far higher if the government had not raised taxes to pay for the reduction in fuel duty last year.

On that subject, northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael said: “I know that some within the industry were concerned after the tax changes we saw in the budget. As the prime minister made clear in Aberdeen today, the government is committed to working with the sector to help boost investment in the North Sea.”

Concerns about BP’s environmental record surfaced again on Wednesday when the four major green charities signed a joint letter urging energy secretary Chris Huhne not to grant a licence to drill on the North Uist field 80 miles north west of Shetland.

The company’s environmental statement presents a worst case scenario of a spill twice as large as the Deepwater Horizon affecting Shetland.

The RSPB, WWF Scotland, Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth Scotland have sent a joint letter to Mr Huhne raising their concerns and complaining that they had not been informed about the public consultation on the plans, which ended last week.

In brief for 12 October 2011

Salmon peace talks

PEACE talks between salmon farmers and fishers of wild salmon are being prepared by the Scottish government.

The two sides have been at loggerheads over the impact of sea lice and chemicals on wild species from salmon farms off mainland Scotland.

Environment minister Stewart Stevenson said: “I believe that both sectors can exist and develop in harmony with each other, and I am therefore greatly encouraged that both wild fish interests and the salmon farming industry have agreed to this new process with a view to working together more constructively in the future."

The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards and the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation has welcomed the government’s intervention. Both sides will meet shortly with an independent facilitator to discuss how talks should proceed.

CAP reform proposals

EUROPE has finally published its formal proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, which provides subsidies worth £650 million to Scotland’s crofters and farmers.

The proposals envisage wholesale reforms from 2014 that will have to undergo intense negotiation prior to ratification by the European Parliament.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland is looking for a better link between subsidies and agricultural activity, no subsidy cap for large operators and support for new entrants to the industry.

The proposals are likely to do away with single farm payments, basing subsidy on area payments with differing regional rates across Scotland.

Future payments are likely to be linked to current levels of activity.


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