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Planning board decisions

Hjaltland refusal

PLANS by Hjaltland Housing Association to build 38 affordable homes and associated air heat pumps next to the Herrislea House Hotel, in Tingwall, were again refused by the council's planning board on Wednesday.

An almost identical proposal was refused by the board in 2009, and when the housing association appealed the decision a reporter from Scottish Ministers refused permission on different grounds.

On Wednesday, councillors rejected the new application saying the agricultural land is too good to build on, and the development would make it unsafe for children walking to school.

 

Pharmacy setback

Plans to build a new pharmacy in Scalloway suffered a setback when the council's planning board turned down a planning application by Norsepharm Ltd.

The company were given permission by NHS Shetland to set up a pharmacy in the village, in February, despite local opposition and a rival bid from local doctors.

At Wednesday's planning board meeting, councillors refused to grant permission to build a shop and a two bedroom flat next to the Kiln Bar because there was not enough car parking and space for delivery trucks.

Twenty five people had objected to the plans.

 

Linga unplugged

A £500,000 project to build an 'unplugged' eco-tourism development on the uninhabited Shetland island of Linga has been approved by Shetland Islands Council's planning board.

The application, by locally born Texas businessman Robert Thomson, who owns the 50 acre island in Vaila Sound, 200 metres off the village of Walls, had previously been rejected by planners as it contravened local planning guidance relating to the repopulation of uninhabited islands.

But acting as the local review body, the planning board voted on Wednesday to approve in principle the development, which will see two disused cottages on the island restored, the land used for crofting once more, and a new jetty built.

Electricity will be generated using renewable sources, and sewage disposal will be handled by a reed bed. Future plans include a shore station and visitor centre in Walls.

Gary Robinson moved approval of the plan, and accepted a move from Bill Manson and Caroline Miller to stipulate that the council's responsibility for services to the island should end at Walls.

Councillor Robinson said the development offered a great opportunity and considerable economic and social benefits for the Walls area.

In brief for 20 April

Legionnaires' disease

NHS SHETLAND is working with two other health boards in Scotland to establish the source of a Legionnaires' disease infection a patient on a work trip to Shetland contracted.

Director of public health Sarah Taylor said there was no cause for concern for other people in the isles, as the health board had no indication that the case had been contracted locally.

The patient is being treated at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

 

Nature festival

THIS year's Shetland Nature Festival, which runs between 2 and 10 July, will be opened by well-known wildlife film maker Simon King. 

The festival has been organised by Shetland Amenity Trust, the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage, and will also feature Shetland's status as a Geopark.

The nine day event will take the form of a number of 'open days' in specific areas such as Noss, Sumburgh Head, Eshaness, Unst, Fetlar, Bressay and Lerwick.

In his opening lecture, Mr King will share his secrets for tracking, watching and appreciating Shetland's wildlife.

For a full list of events planned during the Shetland Nature Festival, visit www.shetlandnaturefestival.co.uk

 

Young sailors

Forty two young Shetlanders will taste life on the ocean waves this summer as they take part in the sail training experience with placements on seven vessels during this year's Tall Ships Race.

The lucky candidates will experience life as crew members, undertaking tasks such as watch-keeping, setting sails and other domestic duties with the other trainees onboard the 53 ships from all over the world that will visit Lerwick in July.

Peter Malcolmson, chairman of Sail Training Shetland, said: "It will be a fantastic event giving our trainees a completely unique insight into working closely within a team environment and I'm sure they'll be fantastic ambassadors for Shetland."

Each trainee, aged between 15 and 25, will work closely with the crew of their allocated ship, taking part in one of the race legs.

Trainees needed no previous sailing experience to take part and their time on board will be spent being shown the basics of seamanship and working together as a team. They will experience the international exchange of cultures and language and meet lots of new people.

Election 2011: Oil spills and school closures

ON THE day of the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, independent candidate Billy Fox has again highlighted the need to maximise prevention of a similar accident happening in the waters around Shetland.

Referring to an article in the Guardian newspaper, Mr Fox said stricter rules as backed by the EU, were already under attack from national government, including the coalition government at Westminster.

He said: "The new rules would extend the area of coverage up to 200 miles from the coast, holding the oil companies responsible for prevention and any clean up in a much more rigorous framework.

"Mobile rigs like BP's Deepwater Horizon would also be covered. At present the requirements for a high standard of safety measures only apply to fixed installations.

"Any attempt to water down these regulations, which appears to be happening by the Lib/Con coalition, in conjunction with the oil industry, is extremely worrying. 

"With the move into deeper water and increasingly hostile conditions, it is absolutely crucial that every possible regulation and technical measure is put in place to avoid a repeat of the Gulf of Mexico disaster."

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat candidate Tavish Scott expressed his concern about the effect the proposed closure of four primary schools would have on the communities.

He called on the council to listen to the full implications of such closures described in an independent socio economic impact, compiled by economist Steve Westbrook.

He said: "I met parents and school parent councils in Burravoe, Uyeasound, North Roe and Sandness in recent months. I have made a formal submission to the council on behalf of parents, pupils and teachers passing on the serious concerns about the details and figures behind the council's closure proposals.

"What also shone through clearly during the meetings I had is that the schools whose future is in question make a substantial contribution to island life well beyond their immediate educational role.

"The Westbrook report on the implications of the closures on the communities makes it clear that the closures would be damaging to the communities the schools serve.

"Before they reach a decision on the future of these schools, Councillors must give serious consideration both to the educational concerns which the parents still have, such as the travel implications for young children, and to the wider impact of the closures on the communities."

Hockey: Whalsay start strong as ever

Rosebowl

Delting 1 v Scalloway 0

The first game of the hockey season saw Delting take on Scalloway. The game started quickly, with both teams having chances at goal. Scalloway had the first chance with Mhari Moncrieff passing to Meg Laurenson who drove the ball into the circle and hit her strike well, however it went wide of the goal.   

Both teams played well and with a few new signings showed good promise. The first hockey match of the season got off to a great start with early attacks on both goals.

Following some slick linking play between Nicola Blance and Kerry Burgess on the right side Scalloway defender Ann-Marie Robinson deliberately cleared the ball off the back line and Delting were awarded their first penalty corner. 

A strong push out from Brenda Leask to the edge of the circle was deemed to have hit Jillian Copland's knee and a free pass was awarded to a relieved Scalloway.  The tables turned when Karis Irvine took a spectacular first time shot from a cross, which narrowly missed the target. 

Scalloway were then awarded a penalty corner and Rhiannon Inkster wowed the crowd with a strike which Toni Sidgwick guided onto the cross bar. It then fell to Delting's Jessalin Fraser who cleared it out of danger.  Both teams continued to push for the opening goal, but there was no break in the deadlock up until half time.

The second half started with great pressure from Delting as they continued to work hard to make their penalty corners and shots on goal count, however the Scalloway defensive pack were holding their own.

It was a full 10 minutes before Scalloway settled again and with some good work from Naomi Johnson, Kate Moncrieff and Mhairi Moncrieff, they pushed forward into the Delting circle and were awarded a penalty corner. Delting's new signing Louise Arthur demonstrated good form and cleared the danger.   

Kerri Redfern, a welcome return for Scalloway, helped them to keep their shape throughout the game and made good use of the substitutions, however it was a change of tack for Delting at a penalty corner which resulted in the only goal.  

The initial push out was cleanly stopped and pushed in by Jillian Copland. Donna Murray was poised ready to strike and made no mistake in sending the ball goalward. 

Scalloway continued to battled hard until the end and were unlucky in the closing minutes of the game when Karis Irvine intercepted a weak cross in Delting's defence.  Karis laid the ball off of the season.

Players of the match were Nicola Blance for Delting and Naomi Johnson for Scalloway.                                             

 

Zetland 0 v Whalsay 6

Whalsay dominated this game throughout.  They passed well and made excellent use of their midfield strength. Victoria Duthie and Maree Simpson were particularly strong down Whalsay's right wing. Lara Jamieson, Helen Robertson and Hannah Irvine tackled determinedly, but their pace and strength showed.

Zetland played four new players: Joanne Stewart, Eildh Coull, Megan Grant and Lynsey Morrison.  Finding it difficult to settle Zetland conceded four goals in the first half from Dianne Shearer, Duthie and two from Angelina Irvine. Zetland looked like they could get a goal on the break with Maisie Unsworth and Indya Bradley both looking fit.

Zetland started the second half much more positively.  Erica Mikolajczak found her form and started to thread balls through to her forwards Abbey Irvine and Ingrid Nicol. Zetland did threaten to breach the Whalsay circle, but couldn't get any clear shots away. 

At the other end it was a different story. Debi Kane had a superb half clearing her lines and blocking shots on countless occasions. Dawn Anderson kept Catherine Williamson and Eileen Sandison quiet on the right.  Zoe Irvine for Whalsay showed her class on the ball throughout the second half weaving her way through the Zetland midfield. 

The defensive circle was too congested for her passes to always find her strikers.  Due to forced errors Zetland defended five short corners, but Duthie scored at the back post when she lifted her shot past Robertson on the post.  A penalty flick was conceded late in the game when Robertson stopped a shot with her knee on the line.  Fiona Dally converted the penalty.

The first game of the season sees Whalsay ever strong.  Zetland look like they could be dangerous on the break with some pacey players up front.

Best on the night for Whalsay was Zoe Irvine and for Zetland Mikolajcak.


Fixtures:

Monday 25 April - Rosebowl

6:30 Burra v Juniors (Simon Skinner/Spurs rep)

7:50 Spurs v Whalsay (Simon Skinner/Juniors rep)
 

Thursday 28th April - Rosebowl

6.30pm Scalloway v Zetland (Simon Skinner/Delting rep)

7:50pm Spurs v Delting (Simon Skinner/Zetland rep)  

Former isles man faces child sex charges

A FORMER Shetland resident now living in Denmark faces a trial in the islands next month over allegations that he seriously sexually abused two children more than 30 years ago.

Michael Bruce Polson, aged 50, whose address was given as care of his Aberdeen solicitors, is charged with lewd, indecent and libidinous practices at a house in Shetland between 1974 and 1982.

The alleged victims are a woman who would have been aged between five and 12 at the time, and a man who would have been aged between four and five.

No plea has been tendered and a trial has been set for 18 May in Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Superfast broadband will change isles' fate

SHETLAND Telecom, the council funded company connecting the isles to the Faroese fibre optic cable, is destined to "change the fate of the islands", according Michael Fourman, Professor of Computer Systems, at the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Fourman gave the keynote speech at a four hour community partnership summit into 'Connectivity in the 21st century, held in the Clickimin Leisure Complex, on Tuesday afternoon.

He praised the council for its foresight and initiative in investing in high speed broadband, as "connectivity drives innovation".

Shetland Telecom hopes to complete laying the cable between Lerwick and Sandwick by June this year and be operational from Lerwick by the summer.

However, the ultimate aspiration is to provide every community in the isles with access to high speed broadband over the next few years, though no investment decision on such a project has yet been made. Councillors will be presented with more information on the options available at the next development committee meeting.

The summit, attended by around 60 people, heard from a number of businesses and public agencies how better broadband services could generate economic, educational and health benefits for islanders.

Professor Fourman also chairs the Digital Scotland working group of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). The group was established in response to the publication of Lord Carter's Digital Britain report in 2009, which had been widely criticised for not going far enough.

In its Digital Scotland report of October last year, the RSE said Scotland could not afford to be left behind and called for national and local governments to take the lead in providing the fibre infrastructure "in the national interest".

Warning that within two years rural India would have better broadband access than much of Scotland, Professor Fourman called on the new Scottish government to "assume strategic responsibility for the rollout of fibre to Scotland's unconnected regions".

He said: "Where there is access to fibre, Scotland's communities have already demonstrated that local action can build local access networks.

"Orkney and Shetland, both lucky enough to be sitting on an existing intercontinental fibre, are busy extending their fibre network to roll out super-fast broadband.

"The internet has demonstrated its power to transform the ways we live and work, and it's clear that a fibre backbone is essential.

"It enables individuals who do get connected to be on an equal playing field whether they are in Shetland, whether they are in London, in New York or India."

He added: "What is happening here in Shetland is establishing the core infrastructure as a public good, and then hopefully we will see it operated in a way that maximises the public good but will allow lots of entrepreneurial activity enabled by that investment.

"Economic, health and educational opportunities are all enhanced by connections to the internet. But it goes deeper than that, and we are seeing some of that playing out in North Africa and the Middle East now, where it provides freedom of expression and exchange of information that is fundamental to human freedom, and that goes much deeper that the societal benefits we see here."

Another Merseyside heroin courier jailed

A HEROIN addict from Liverpool, who claimed she was forced to smuggle drugs worth almost £8,000 into Shetland to pay off a debt to dealers, was jailed for four years at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Lila Bernadette Cartwright, aged 47, had been stopped as she was being driven by a young man into Lerwick from Sumburgh airport on 17 February.

In court Cartwright, whose address was given as Cornton Vale prison, admitted being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug.

Acting on a tip off, officers took her to Lerwick police station but had to obtain a search warrant and take her to Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital before she produced the four packages, which contained 392 pre-prepared £20 deals.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said this was “a familiar story of another Merseyside drugs courier with no connection to Shetland” bringing heroin into the isles.

The court heard that Cartwright had been sent to prison three times for dealing. She had stayed away from drugs for a while after her most recent release, but had fallen back into heroin addiction due to relationship problems.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said she owed £3,000 to drug dealers who had threatened her and her family over the debt.

“She was given 10 minutes notice to undertake a trip to Shetland where she had never been before and asked to carry the items that were recovered from her,” he said.

Jailing her for four years, Sheriff Graeme Napier said that Cartwright was “probably one of the most prolific drug dealers I have had to deal with”.

Meanwhile a Lerwick man who persuaded the court that he had been carrying drugs in his jumper pocket that did not belong to him, escaped a prison sentence.

Michael Swannie, aged 39, of 89 St Olaf Street, Lerwick, admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin at Jamieson’s Quay, Aberdeen, on 1 April last year.

The court heard a friend had offered him a free return trip on the NorthLink freight boat to the city to see his 18 year old daughter in the city. When they had gone to the pub together a drug dealer had placed heroin intended for his friend in his pocket.

Defence agent Andrew Ormiston said Swannie forgot the drugs were there until he was stopped by police acting on a tip off.

“I can appreciate it’s hard to swallow the explanation but that’s Mr Swannie’s position and the Crown accepts it,” Mr Ormiston said.

Sheriff Napier placed Swannie on a drug treatment and testing order that will require him to appear in court every month for the next year for it to be reviewed. Any failure to comply will land him in jail, the sheriff said.

Skipper fined after crew caught “high grading”

A RELIEF skipper on a Shetland fishing boat has been fined £2,000 after one of his crewmen illegally threw cod back into the sea under the watchful eyes of fisheries inspectors.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Monday that government inspectors had been on board the Alison Kay (LK 57) on 26 September last year when they saw the crewman throw around 20 cod overboard, despite them being more than the legal minimum of 35cm in length.

Relief skipper James Ritch, aged 45, of Olivette, Hamnavoe, had been in the wheelhouse at the time, but accepted responsibility and pled guilty to breaching European regulations designed to protect cod stocks.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the practice of “high grading” was designed to increase the value of the catch by discarding smaller fish, even if they were big enough to land legally.

However he accepted that the Alison Kay had a good reputation and steps had since been taken to install CCTV cameras on board the vessel as part of the Scottish government’s catch quota management regime to discourage such practices.

Defence agent Martin Sinclair said the value of the discarded fish was between £30 and £50, and would have been enough to fill no more than half a fish box.

He said that Mr Ritch had no previous convictions and had been relief skipper for 10 years, during a 30 year career at sea.

“He was unaware of the practices that were taking place at the time, and when it was brought to his attention he immediately spoke to the crew and indicated they must refrain from discarding any fish that were above the legal limit,” Mr Sinclair said.

He added that the crew were well aware that their pay was based on the value of the catch, creating an incentive to land bigger fish that were worth more money.

The CCTV cameras were installed shortly after the incident. As a result, Mr Sinclair said: “The crew are aware that they can’t do this in the future. Mr Ritch is fully aware of that himself and he bitterly regrets what happened.”

Only the week before the incident, which took place on 26 September last year, the boat had invited scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science on board to help build up statistical information to help set quotas.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said that this was at the lower end of the scale for such an offence.

Fining Ritch, he said: “You and the rest of the people involved in the vessel have acted responsibly, as is acknowledged by the Crown, and it’s of reassurance that there is now a system in place that will discourage anyone who thinks they may increase the value of the catch in this way.”

 

Former NHS boss to join SIC improvement team

Sandra_LaurensonFORMER NHS Shetland chief executive Sandra Laurenson is the latest former public service manager to join Shetland Islands Council to help the local authority to save money and improve its performance.

Ms Laurenson, who took early retirement from her NHS Shetland post at Christmas, will work for the SIC for three days a week over the next six months, mainly on identifying efficiency savings and better ways of working.

The former NHS chief executive will join a team of consultants assisting new chief executive Alistair Buchan to implement the council’s improvement plan which was drawn up following the damning report from local government watchdog, the Accounts Commission.

The other four are: Keith Yates, former chief executive of Stirling Council; Brian Lawrie, former executive director of finance with Fife Council; Nigel Stewart, former director of corporate services with Argyll and Bute Council; as well as BBC broadcaster Tom Morton, who advises the SIC on its communication strategy. The council is also assisted by St Andrew’s University.

Justifying the number of consultants appointed, Mr Buchan said on Wednesday morning: “With the amount of improvement we had to make, we needed some special resources to support that.”

He added: “Sandra has a huge amount of local experience and I’m delighted to have her on board.

“She comes with a well established track record of achieving cost savings in NHS Shetland and has particular skills that will help us drive forward some specific aspects of the improvement work.

“Her principal focus will be to help the organisation continue its drive to do things more efficiently and save money, which is a high priority for the council and vital for Shetland’s future.”

Ms Laurenson said: “I’m relishing the challenge of working as part of the team that’s trying to improve the way the council does its business.

“Although I have spent my career working in the NHS, I believe a lot of things are transferrable into a council context.

“Over many years I was proud of the way the local NHS found efficiency savings by working directly alongside staff whilst maintaining services for the public. I’d aim to take the same approach here.”

She added: “When looking for ways to do things more efficiently and at less cost, I think it’s vital that staff are asked for their ideas and kept involved.

“So one of the first things I would like to explore is engaging staff in the possibility of introducing a scheme where they are able to develop suggestions for savings and are then supported to deliver them.”

SIC commends school closures, despite hostility

EDUCATION officials are recommending that four rural primary schools in Shetland close, saying it will save the authority more than £250,000 a year and safeguard the rest of the service.

A two month consultation drew massive opposition to the plans to close schools in Uyeasound, Burravoe, North Roe and Sandness, all of which have received excellent reports from inspectors.

However the Shetland Islands Council schools service say they must make a £5 million cut to the overstretched £42 million education budget, the highest per pupil in Scotland.

If councillors back the recommendations, 37 pupils will be sent to the nearest school at Baltasound, Mid Yell, Ollaberry or Walls.

Socio economic reports for the four affected communities published with the consultation reports on Tuesday reveal that the closures will have a serious impact on their local economies and probably lead to depopulation.

Yet SIC head of schools Helen Budge said that if councillors fail to back the proposals, the money will have to be found elsewhere.

“At the moment we have too many schools for the number of pupils that we have. The council have asked us to make savings and the only options we have are to make cuts across the board or reduce the size of the school estate,” she said.

The proposals have received the backing of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Education (HMIE), who believe children will do better in larger schools with finer facilities.

The oil rich authority has already courted controversy of late in its bid to rein in expenditure by scrapping primary school knitting classes and charging for music tuition.

Further reductions are being proposed by reviewing education for disabled children, increasing the size of primary classes and cutting four jobs from the central administration. The number of school support staff may also be reduced.

Almost all of the 600 people who responded to the Blueprint for Education consultation opposed the closures, arguing that the impact on children’s education and their communities was unacceptable.

Nairn economist Steve Westbrook, who drew up the socio economic reports, suggested Uyeasound, North Roe and Sandness would be particularly badly hit while efforts to rejuvenate Burravoe would be undermined.

Uyeasound’s school roll has fallen from 18 to 10 in the past decade, but closing the school will hit an island trying to revive itself after the loss of the RAF base at Saxa Vord.

As well as losing the equivalent of 2.6 full time jobs, three families are likely to leave the island, including that of head teacher Kate Coutts.

Closure will save the council an estimated £96,692, money that will leave the local economy and lead to the population centralising around Baltasound, the only school left on Unst.

In Burravoe the savings are estimated at £58,397, but plans to build a new community centre and maintain a viable population will be undermined if families leave the area, either moving to the Shetland mainland where the bulk are employed or closer to Mid Yell where the 11 pupils (down from 16 in 2001) will attend if the closure goes through.

North Roe is the poorest community in Shetland whose only full time job plus six of its 12 part time posts will go if the school closes and its eight pupils (down from 14 in 2000) attend Ollaberry, which parents prefer as an option to Urafirth.

However while the council will save an estimated £46,702, the community is likely to lose around £100,000 and Mr Westbrook said it could have “a serious effect” on its long term sustainability.

The roll at Sandness, Shetland’s first purpose built school dating back to 1852, has grown from five just three years ago to eight today, with another child due to attend next year.

However the council hopes to save £54,904 by sending the children seven miles down a single track road to Walls, which parents have said is unfair and potentially dangerous.

Again Mr Westbrook has warned that people may well leave the area as the benefit of living in a rural community is diminished without the school and outweighed by the cost of commuting to Lerwick, where most inhabitants work.

He added that the closure would be a threat to the Sandness spinning mill, where any reduction in employment would be “a devastating blow to the local and wider economies”.

The department contends that in all four cases the pupils will be better off from receiving their education in a modern, fit for purpose learning environment with access to a larger peer group creating more opportunities.

Officials also stress that this will help schoolchildren throughout the islands, by creating “a more efficient cost-effective model of school education delivery…thus contributing to the sustainability of the excellent quality of education provided to all pupils in Shetland, in the current challenging financial climate”.

The SIC’s services committee will debate the proposals on 10 May and if they go through, all four schools will close on 7 October at the end of the autumn term.

In August a consultation will commence on the future of Olnafirth primary school in Voe.

In December councillors demonstrated their determination to tackle the education budget by voting to close Scalloway secondary department in the face of a huge community outcry. Their decision to go ahead and save an estimated £700,000 eventually received the support of the Scottish government, who had called the decision in.

At the same time members chose to protect the fragile economy of Skerries by keeping its three pupil secondary department, the smallest in Scotland, at a cost of £70,000 – money which will now have to be found elsewhere.

The consultation reports can be found at http://www.shetland.gov.uk/education/BlueprintforEducation.asp

 

 

Schools service recommends closing four schools

EDUCATION officials have recommended to councillors that four primary schools at Uyeasound, Burravoe, North Roe and Sandness close, despite massive community opposition.

The move follows a two month consultation under the council’s Blueprint for Education review, which is seeking to slash its overstretched £42 million schools budget.

The closures will be debated by the SIC’s services committee on 10 May.

The full consultation reports were published on Tuesday afternoon and can be found at http://www.shetland.gov.uk/education/BlueprintforEducation.asp

 

 

BBC backs down over Billy

BillyFoxTHE BBC has backed down on its refusal to allow Shetland independent candidate Billy Fox to join the platform at Friday’s hustings debate for BBC Radio Shetland.

Mr Fox had said he would boycott the debate and hold his own meeting afterwards after complaining to the BBC that their policy of only allowing him to speak from the audience was “undemocratic and discriminatory”.

He was backed first by Tory candidate Sandy Cross who called for the BBC to change their mind, and then by SNP candidate Jean Urquhart who said that she too would refuse to participate in the hustings.

On Tuesday lunchtime a BBC spokesman said they had reviewed their approach after receiving representations about their policy.

“Therefore we have now extended an invitation to the independent candidate Billy Fox to take part in the hustings programme on Radio Shetland sitting on the panel with the candidates representing the four main political parties,” the spokesman said.

However he stressed: “This does not represent a change in policy.  BBC Scotland will consider each hustings broadcast on its merit.”

Mr Fox said that he was extremely glad about the decision. “I think the BBC have done the right thing. It is a blanket policy which did not fit with regional areas like Shetland.

“I think that it shows that an individual protest can actually change things. BBC national policy has changed, and I think that it’s a very good indication that an independent politician can make changes even before they are elected.”

Labout candidate Jamie Kerr welcomed the BBC's decision. "Obviously Billy and I disagree on the wind farm, but I think in the interests of democracy he should be on the panel so Shetland can hear what he has to say."

Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott added: “I am pleased that the BBC in Glasgow has listened to the representations made by all the candidates to allow all five candidates for the Shetland seat to play a full part in the hustings.

“This will allow a full debate, giving all candidates an equal opportunity to make their case and to be questioned on where they stand.”

The Shetland hustings debate will take place at the Shetland museum on Friday 22 April and be broadcast on BBC Radio Shetland at 6.10pm on Monday 25 April.

Meanwhile independent candidate James Stockan has also been allowed to sit  on the platform in the BBC hustings debate in Orkney.

Football: Whalsay snatch first silverware

THE WHALSAY squad have truly set the pace for the season with a convincing victory at home over Scalloway, though the final score does not perhaps reflect the balance of play in Monday’s night’s Highland Fuels cup final.

Whalsay 3 v Scalloway 0

A blustery night in Whalsay saw these two teams contest the final of this season’s curtain opener.

Whalsay took the lead after 15 minutes when some good build up play ended with Alistair Johnson turning on the edge of the box and curling the ball past the diving Scalloway keeper.

With Scalloway at this stage probably not deserving to be behind, it was an even bigger blow to them when they were taken apart again 10 minutes later when a counter attacking move ended with Bryan Irvine firing the ball into the far corner from the edge of the area.

The second half saw Scalloway almost pull a goal back when Robert Garriock had a great chance, but shot wide from eight yards.

Whalsay were in the ascendancy by now though and were creating some decent chances, the best of which saw Irvine strike the post.

Whalsay eventually pulled further ahead when good work on the left by Johnson ended with a cross to the back post where Irvine was waiting to tap in his second goal.

To their credit Scalloway kept pushing and Garriock went close again with a free kick with 20 minutes left.

Shortly after this Keith Pearson had to leave the field with a shoulder injury and with Whalsay having used their three substitutes they were forced to see out the remainder of the game with only 10 men.

Despite some sustained Scalloway pressure near the end Whalsay held firm and after the final whistle were presented with the cup by Shetland Football Association president Magnie Flaws.

 

In brief for 18 April 2011

Dogs killed cat

THE OWNER of two dogs that attacked and killed a cat on Lerwick’s Charlotte Street on Friday evening has been charged under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

A police spokesman said that they would like to thank the public for their help in tracking down the owner, who is currently still looking after the animals.


Not just for geeks

FOUR pupils from Lerwick’s Anderson High School are encouraging young people in Shetland to vote in the May elections with their campaign “I Vote – Does this make me a geek?”

The campaign led by local MSYPs Nicole Mouat and Emily Shaw along with fellow first time voters James Aitken and Hayden Thomason is designed to challenge the stereotype that young people who vote are “geeks”.

Young voters are being encouraged to update their social network profiles with photographs of them wearing “geeky” thick-rimmed spectacles.
Emily said: “I think issues like tuition fees have brought politics and voting to the forefront for young people. It’s important for young people to vote to make sure our views are represented in Parliament.”


NHS24 goes local

NHS SHETLAND is looking for nurses to help run the new NHS24 service operating out of Gilbert Bain Hospital last week.

The Shetland out of hours telephone service went live on 13 April, following in the footsteps of other local centres opening in Orkney, Falkirk, Fife and the Scottish Borders.

All nurses recruited to NHS 24 will undergo a comprehensive training and induction programme which will be split between the Aberdeen centre and on site in Shetland


Power cut

HOMES in Lerwick and Shetland’s south and west mainland were hit by a brief power cut at Monday lunchtime after a fault appeared on the line between Sullom Voe and Lerwick generating stations.


Gareth joins Streamline

FORMER NorthLink commercial director Gareth Crichton has joined freight operators Streamline Shipping Group as development director.

Managing director Stuart Roberts said: “Gareth has been working with Streamline in an advisory role for some time and we are delighted now to welcome him into our team. His specific experience in operating roll-on roll-off ferry services to Orkney and Shetland, together with a broad business background in the islands, make him an ideal candidate for this new development role.”

Mr Crichton has a background in the seafood business and is a former chief executive of Orkney Tourist Board. He also owns The Shore Hotel in Kirkwall, Orkney, with his wife Karen.


Unintended consequences

US OIL giant Chevron has warned there could be “unintended consequences” flowing from the UK government’s new tax on oil companies operating in the North Sea.

Chairman John Watson hinted that they might choose to divert investment away from UK waters as a result of the tax.

Last year Chevron began drilling an exploration well in the deepwater Lagavulin prospect 160 miles north of Shetland.

 

Election 2011: SNP to boycott hustings

Jean_Urquhart_160411SHETLAND SNP candidate Jean Urquhart, from Ullapool, has made a formal complaint to the BBC about its refusal to allow independent candidate Billy Fox to sit on the platform at its hustings debate on Friday.

Ms Urquhart said that she had written to BBC director general Mark Thompson saying she would not participate unless Mr Fox was allowed on the platform.

She said: "I believe this to be a piece of nonsense and hugely unfair to the candidate and the democratic process, but most of all to the folk in Shetland who would like to hear what each of those seeking election has to say.

“Regional stations clearly need to have regional policies devised to suit their own social and geographical location."

Meanwhile Labour candidate has voiced his disappointment after ‘Vote Labour’ posters were removed from lampposts around Lerwick.

Mr Kerr and his supporters had spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening putting up posters around the town and elsewhere on the Shetland mainland, only to find seven out of nine posters put up on the Esplanade had disappeared by the following morning.

He said the matter would not be reported to the police as there were more important matters to focus on such as the price of fuel, jobs and the economy. But he called on other candidates to condemn the behaviour and for the culprits to return the stolen goods.

“The theft of our posters is unlawful and those responsible have broken the law,” he said.

“These are low tactics from rattled people who do not like being challenged. My team and I are now even more determined that folk in Shetland hear the Labour message and that we will not be silenced when speaking out loud against Lib Dem and Tory coalition cuts to local services.”

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat candidate Tavish Scott focussed on agriculture, calling for a return of the successful Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) subsidy scheme in Shetland and scrapping the Rural Development Scheme, which he called “a bureaucratic mess”.

He said a new scheme fast tracking small applications from crofters would help, and would continue the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme direct payments.

He said the LibDems would make it easier for councils and other public sector agencies to purchase local food and attempt to break the monopoly power of supermarkets to win fairer prices for producers.

Jailed and banned for life

A SHETLAND labourer was jailed for eight months and banned from driving for life after crashing into a car while speeding on the wrong side of the road when more than twice the legal limit for alcohol.

Thirty year old Stuart Duncan, of 56 Kalliness, Weisdale, admitted five charges when he appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

As well as taking a car from Kalliness without the owner’s permission, he admitted driving while disqualified, driving without insurance, driving dangerously at grossly excessive speed on the wrong side of the road and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Duncan was arrested on Sunday afternoon after police were called to an accident on the main A971 road 1.5 miles south of the Kalliness estate. He was breathalysed and taken to Lerwick police station where he spent the night.

The court heard that Duncan already had several driving convictions, including five for being over the limit.

Sheriff Graeme Napier handed down four separate jail sentences for the various offences, ranging from four months to eight months, but said they could all be served concurrently.

All the way to Ulan Bator

The Mongol adventurers at this weekend's motor show at Clickimin Leisure Centre with their support team. From left Andrew Hawick, Nicola Williamson, Ava MacDonald, and Donna Simpson, Stuart Cameron. Lying down is Kevin Williamson - Photo: Billy FoxHAVE you got a sense of adventure? It would be hard to match that of three 32 year olds from Lerwick who could be considered little short of barmy.

Their summer holiday plans involve piling three men into a tiny car with a terrible track record and driving it 1,000 miles to London.

Then they face another 10,000 miles across some of the worst road conditions the planet can throw up on their way to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia,.

The idea of travelling through 18 countries in a little car - rated one out of five by one auto magazine - started off in the bored brain of offshore electrical inspector Andrew Hawick four years ago.

“I was working in the Brents at the time, had a lot of spare time on my hands and eBay was getting a bit expensive, so I was looking for something to do.

“I was thinking about getting a motorbike and going to Africa, then I came across the Plymouth to Dakar rally for old bangers and then I stumbled across the Mongol Rally,” he said, with an excitement that still sounds barely contained.

That enthusiasm dragged in his friends Stuart Cameron, a mechanic who has never driven on the UK mainland before, and truck driver Kevin Williamson, who apparently suffers from carsickness when he’s not at the wheel.

The rules of the Mongo Rally state the vehicle of choice must be no more than 1.2 litres and no less than 10 years old, so that the Mongolian government aren’t left with a bunch of useless minis on their hands.

In their hunt for the right steed, the intrepid trio came across a Perodua Kenari - a funny little motor from Malaysia with a high roof and little wheels. Under the bonnet is 989 cubic centimetres of cylinder space and the power of 55 horses.

They knocked a man in Manchester down to £700 after seeing his advert in Autotrader and with the kind help of Shetland Transport, brought it north to their home islands.

Andrew said: “It’s a bit like it’s made out meccano, but it’s got spacious headroom and the back door is hinged.” A quality perhaps not shared by these three young adventurers.

Uncertain of its performing skills, they loaded it with concrete blocks to mimic the weight of six weeks of provisions and hurtled around the closest thing Lerwick has to the rough highways of central Asia – the track over the back of Staney Hill.

“We nailed it round Cunningham Way through all the pot holes and came out the other side with nothing broken, so we thought, ‘this is OK, the car’s going to be alright!’”

Having mastered the Clickimin track, the lads feel ready for their epic journey from London on 23 July that will take them through France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.

In the words of the organisers: “Imagine yourself completely lost in a massive desert, hundreds of miles from civilisation, driving a car that the laws of physics say should not have got you past the M25 as 3 wheels fall off and a troupe of bandits wander over the horizon. That's when the adventure begins. The Mongol Rally; the world's best generator of chaos.”

Beneath the madness it’s a serious matter; some folk have died doing this. But assuming they make it across all the borders in one piece, they will have raised thousands for charity.

Under their team name ‘WTF is a Perodua’ they have already raised over £5,000, well ahead of the rest of their 400 plus fundraising rivals taking part in the 2011 rally.

The cash is being divided between the rally’s chosen charity, the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation for street kids in Mongolia, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and the Shetland Befriending Scheme.

Anyone interested in donating can go to http://mongolrally11.theadventurists.com/index.php?mode=teamwebsites&name=wtfisaperodua

Or you can follow their antics on Facebook by looking up the team name. There is also still room to join Goudies Funeral Directors – someone whose services they hope not to call on – as an advertiser on their little car.

In brief for 15 April 2011

Swan award

THE RESTORED Shetland herring drifter Swan has won the prestigious National Historic Ships Flagship Award 2011 after beating stiff competition.

The award brings with it a £1,000 grant to help with the cost of appearing at major national and international events to promote the 111 year old fifie, as well as historic ships and maritime heritage in general.

National Historic Ships director Martyn Heighton said the award was based on Swan’s “extensive sailing and visiting programme for 2011”.

Swan Trust secretary Peter Campbell said: “The opposition the Swan was up against included vessels like the paddle steamer Waverley, so it’s quite an achievement to win this award.”

 

Faroe mackerel

CONFIRMATION that the Marine Stewardship Council will not certify the Faroese mackerel fishery should damage the islands’ economy, according to Euro MP Struan Stevenson.

Scotland objected to the MSC certification after Faroe followed Iceland’s example and unilaterally raised its mackerel quota to 150,000 tonnes from 85,000 tonnes this year, having already vastly increased its quota from previous years.

Independent verifier Det Norske Veritas (DNV) have now upheld the objection.

Mr Stevenson said: “This is sure to be an economic blow to the Faroes, because EU consumers are more and more determined to purchase fish and fish products that come from an accredited and sustainable fishery. The lack of an MSC award will seriously undermine the Faroese mackerel market in Europe."

 

Drink driver jailed after absconding

A YOUNG Latvian man was jailed at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Friday after he ran away to London to escape a community sentence for his drink driving.

Edgars Kukutis had been banned from driving for five years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service after he was caught almost four times the drink driving limit in the car park at Lerwick’s Tesco supermarket where he worked on 25 November last year.

Only eight days earlier the 22 year old had been banned for two years and fined £750 for driving around Lerwick while more than three times the legal limit on 21 October.

Following his second court appearance, Kukutis was remanded in custody until 10 January so that reports could be compiled on him.

However instead of carrying out the community service, he ran away to London. As a result a warrant was issued for his arrest and on Friday Sheriff Graeme Napier sent him to jail for five months.

Earlier the court had heard Kukutis was an only child who moved to Shetland last year and that this was his first time away from home. The court confiscated the £1,200 car he was driving in November.

Also on Friday 21 year old Virginia Creggy from Liverpool was remanded in custody after appearing from private on drugs charges. She made no plea or declaration and was fully committed for trial.

Creggy was arrested a week earlier following the discovery of suspected heroin with a street value of £21,000 when she was stopped and searched by police on her way north from Liverpool.

 

Race to publish school consultation reports

EDUCATION staff at Shetland Islands Council are working overtime to publish consultation reports on the future of four closure-threatened rural primary schools next week.

The council’s schools service has received 579 responses to its Blueprint for Education proposals to close the primary schools at Uyeasound, Burravoe, North Roe and Sandness in a bid to save money.

The four reports, each around 70 pages long, will be published during the day on Tuesday 19 April.

Head of schools Helen Budge said the department had been “naïve” about the workload involved in processing four separate reports within the five weeks available since the consultation ended on 13 March.

Staff will be working over the weekend to make sure the documents are available on the council’s website at www.shetland.gov.uk/education/blueprintforeducation.asp on Tuesday.

Ms Budge said: “I want to extend a huge thankyou to the staff who have worked day and night over the past few weeks to get these reports as detailed and well informed as we possible can.

“All the questions and queries that have been raised have been answered after gathering all the information.

“However in hindsight, it’s been much more work than I anticipated. To take four reports in this way was perhaps naïve considering the level of work that we have actually had to do for each one. I would not take on four consultations on four closures again.

“Having said that, we are delighted so many folk took the time to respond because there have been lots of questions to answer and we want councillors to make an informed decision and to do that we have to provide them with as much information as we can.”

There will be three weeks for people to digest the consultation reports and lobby their councillors prior to the 10 May meeting of the council’s services committee where the future of the four schools will be debated.

A final decision on their fate will be made by the full council a week later on 17 May, though that is likely to rubber stamp the decision of the services committee, on which all 22 councillors sit.

The largest response has been to the Uyeasound consultation with 236 replies, followed by North Roe with 188, Burravoe with 83 and Sandness with 72. Parents from Uyeasound also handed in a 400 signature petition opposing the closure of their award-winning school.

Copies of the consultation reports will also be available at the schools service headquarters at Lerwick’s Hayfield House, at the Lerwick library and at the affected schools.

In December the council approved the closure of Scalloway junior high school, a decision backed by the Scottish government after it had been called in for further examination.

Skerries secondary department, the smallest in the country with just three pupils, escaped closure after councillors decided it was too important to the island’s economic survival.

 

 

Killer whale research in Shetland

Killer_whale_herring_eater_off_FluggaWITH several sightings of killer whales already this spring (leading to some confirmed identification matches) it is appropriate to bring people’s attention back to the work of the North Atlantic Killer Whale ID project (NAKID)

The continued support both locally within Shetland and indeed from visitors has been key to the success of the project to date. This summer we again encourage and invite anyone fortunate enough to see or photograph killer whales in Shetland to please contact us to report the sighting. Although co-founder of the NAKID project Dr Andy Foote will be returning to Shetland this summer, he will not actually arrive until the 3rd of July when he will be joining us on our North Isles Nature Cruise with Simon King.

Dr Foote said: "In the absence of any of the research team for the first part of the 2011 spring/ summer we are asking for reports and information on killer whale sightings to please be called or texted in to Brydon Thomason on 07786 982 773.

“Brydon has played an integral role in the project from the start and has been helping us both when we are there or away, so it seems like a natural transition and the best way for us to keep information and interest going within the isles.

“We also hope to make the ID catalogue available to the public as a free download at some point this summer."

Dr Volker Deeke, a research fellow at the Sea Mammal Research Unit studying the behaviour of killer whales in Scottish waters, also hopes to be rejoining the Shetland Nature team this summer. 

For an update of 2010 killer whale sightings visit www.shetlandnature.net/2010/12/02/killer-whale-sightings-in-shetland-2010/

More information on NAKID can be found at www.northatlantickillerwhales.com 

Shetland Nature can also be followed on facebook at www.facebook.com/shetlandnature or twitter at www.twitter.com/shetlandnature

QC breaks logjam on trust reform

A £20,000 legal opinion on the future of Shetland Charitable Trust, one of the largest in Scotland, should finally see it reformed within the next 12 months, according to its chairman.

The £210 million trust has spent the past 14 months struggling to address the demands of Scottish charity regulator OSCR that it become more independent of Shetland Islands Council, whose elected members currently make up 21 of its 23 trustees.

In February 2010 a governance review group of trustees proposed just seven councillors join eight independents on a new 15 member charitable trust board.

Instead the existing trustees, led by SIC convener Sandy Cluness, voted to delay a decision until after the 2012 local authority elections, when he and many others intend to stand down from the council.

In response OSCR stepped up the pressure on the trust to reform. This led the council and the trust to jointly commission a senior legal counsel to advise how to resolve the regulator’s concerns.

On Thursday trustees spent two hours discussing a 49 page document drawn up by Edinburgh QC Roy Martin on the question of constitutional reform.

Mr Martin said he believed the trust’s constitution would have to change in order to comply with current charity law and practice.

His advice was that councillor/trustees should never be able to dominate Shetland Charitable Trust and therefore proposed having just four councillors sitting on a 15 strong board.

That way the trust would always require the support of at least one independent trustee before a decision could be made, even if there was the minimum of eight trustees at a meeting.

However Mr Martin said his advice was not “prescriptive” and there were a number of ways in which the trust could be reformed to meet OSCR’s demands.

For example, he said that if the trust wanted one councillor from each of Shetland’s seven wards, it could have an 18 member trust with a quorum of nine or 10 as long as a minimum number of independent trustees went along with a decision.

SCT chairman Bill Manson said that he hoped a new proposal for reform could be presented to the trust on 12 May, but he was not convinced that would be possible in such a short timescale.

There is still likely to be considerable debate about the size and make up of the trust, with trustees disagreeing about the level of councillor influence there should be.

Once a decision has been taken it will take OSCR around six months to administer and agree to the changes following a public consultation exercise.

Mr Manson said: “I can’t speak for every trustee, but the feeling I am getting is that this removes the logjam which was preventing progress towards change in Shetland Charitable Trust and it enables us to bring forward options for future consideration.

“The people who still harboured a belief that no change was required have had an authoritative opinion, which I think has persuaded most, if not all of them, to the view which some people already held in February 2010.”

He added that it would be “highly desirable” to have constitutional change agreed before the next council elections, so that the new intake of councillors would not be faced with the decision.

The full legal opinion can be found at http://www.shetlandcharitabletrust.co.uk/news/opinion-of-senior-counsel-dated-25-march-2011-re-constitution-of-shetland-charitable-trust

 

 

Thieves “stole from the dead”

SHETLAND’S funeral directors Goudies in Lerwick were targeted by burglars who escaped with charity donations and the contents of the company safe on Wednesday night.

Anne Goudie, who runs the business, said she was particularly upset because the thieves had “stolen from the dead”.

She said they had broken in through an office window and taken company cash and donations that had been collected at recent funerals in Shetland.

They had also smashed through a wall and dragged the company safe out into the hallway, breaking through its back and escaping with an estimated £1,200 in cash.

“I am very, very bitter about this. They have not only robbed Goudie’s, they have robbed the dead,” she said.

“I have an insurance policy, I can have the windows fixed, I can do all that, but the fact they have taken money off the deceased is what I am upset about.”

This is the third time the funeral directors on Scalloway Road has been broken into since a burglary in November 1995, when it was one of 11 businesses that were targeted in Lerwick by a single thief.

Since then the company has installed various security measures, but Mrs Goudie said she would be stepping these up even further following this latest incident.

She stressed that the burglars had not gone anywhere near the mortuary or the chapel within the former hospital building, adding that it would have taken a strong person to drag the safe out of the wall of her office. “It must have been someone who knew what they were doing."

She said that she had a great deal of faith in the Lerwick CID who always do “a very, very thorough job”.

Detective sergeant Lindsay Tulloch said: “Anyone who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area or who may know who is responsible or have any other information regarding this incident are asked to contact the police.”

 

Election 2011: Tories will cut red tape

SHETLAND Conservative candidate Sandy Cross has outlined his party’s agenda to cut red tape for rural businesses.

According to Mr Cross, if the Tories take Holyrood they will merge SEPA, SNH, Marine Scotland, the Food Standards Agency and the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspection Directorate into one organisation.

They will also shine the spotlight on burdensome rules and regulations by retaining the Scottish Parliament’s regulatory review group and letting any private sector organisation refer regulations to it.

They will also review and speed up the planning regime to help stimulate economic growth.

The Tory stance on fishing matches that of the other parties, calling for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and “a more effective local fishery management policy”.

Mr Cross said: ‘As a rural businessman myself, I am amazed at the number of government agencies and regulations I have to deal with and the number of forms required.

“Post war, the Hungarian minister of food had all the departmental records in his ministry burned. He then started from scratch.

“This was a much too extreme approach. But it is surely clear that, in Scotland, we can create a more co-ordinated and efficient regime than we have at the moment. This would benefit everyone.”

Looking for young Tall Ships dancers

THE HUNT is on for 20 Shetland youngsters to dance before thousands in the official opening ceremony for the Tall Ships Race visit to Lerwick on 21 July.

Dancers aged 10 to 17 can apply to join the cast for the event that will launch four days of fun and entertainment in the town.

The opening ceremony is being directed by local award winning playwright Jacqui Clark and features a dance piece choreographed by Matthew Lawrence performed to a new Shetland fiddle tune composed by Lerwick born musician Cathy Geldard.

Scalloway singing talent Erin Sandison will perform a specially penned song from Aith musical director and composer Philip Taylor, who is behind the musical score for the entire performance.

Three Shetland born actors - Anthony Okill from Edinburgh, Jordanna O’Neil from Edinburgh and Max Thornton from London – will return to the isles for the occasion to take to the stage.

Local film group Maddrim Media will showcase their Shetland’s Culture footage on the big screen in front of a packed audience.

Ms Clark said: “It is an honour to be working alongside so many talented artists from Shetland. It was also very important to me to include young people in our team and not to make it essential that participants had to be skilled dancers.

“I hope lots of young people enter so that they have the chance not only to learn new skills, but also take part in one of the biggest performances of their lives.”

Interested dancers can ask at their local youth club or visit www.tallshipsraceslerwick.com for more information. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 22 April.

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