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Uyeasound says ‘No’ to school closure plans

PARENTS fighting the proposed closure of the 11 pupil Uyeasound Primary School have presented a 400 signatures strong petition plus 200 written responses to education officers at Shetland Islands Council on Friday.

They had hoped to meet head of service when handing in the documents to the department, but Helen Budge had been called away after word had come through that Scottish Ministers had given the council green light to close the secondary department of the Scalloway School.

As part of its Blueprint for education policy, the SIC plans to close four small primary schools at Uyeasound, Burravoe, North Roe and Sandness.

The council needs to make multi-million pound savings from its education budget, but also argues that closing small schools and transferring pupils to larger schools nearby improves children’s education.

Parents in Uyeasound feel they have a strong case against these plans, particularly since their school has just recently received a glowing inspection report making it the top primary school in the country.

Chairman of the Uyeasound parent council, Derek Jamieson: “The council accepts that they themselves say in their proposal that Uyeasound is the best inspected school in the country, but still they say that a move to Baltasound School would educationally not be detriment.”

He added: “There is an upbeat feeling in the community here. Just in the last year four young couples move moved into the community. Some of them will get married this year and start having children.

“Removing the school will also have a direct impact on the community, as it would mean the loss of six jobs locally.

There is also a dispute over how much money exactly can be saved from closing the school. Education officers say £97,000 a year could be saved, but Mr Jamieson argues that the cost for school transport between Uyeasound and Baltasound have not been part of the equation.

Head of schools, Helen Budge, said on Friday afternoon: “This is one of the issues that has come up during the consultation process. Our response to all of this will go into our consultation report that we will publish next month.

“Any question that has been raised as part of this consultation process will have to be answered in the report.”

The consultation report must be published no later than 14 April in time for the services committee to make a decision on the four school closures on 5 May. Any committee decision will have to be ratified by the full council on 18 May.

ends

Lose this fear of change

With the recent news that the Australian Greens had contacted the Scottish Green Party to express their concern over the Viking Energy project, I was intrigued to find out what their policies are regarding the future of energy.

Their website http://greens.org.au clearly sets out their policies and beliefs.

* Anti Nuclear http://greens.org.au/policies/climate-change-and-energy/nuclear

* Anti Coal http://greens.org.au/policies/climate-change-and-energy/climate-change-and-energy

* Pro wind power http://greens.org.au/content/wind-farms-get-clean-bill-health

Much of their policies make very good sense in light of climate change, peak oil and the current total uncertainty over future global oil supplies from key Middle East producing countries. 

Seemingly they are now turning anti wind power also?

So in the future (as seen by the Australian Greens and Sustainable Shetland)…..No Nuclear + No Coal + No Wind Power = …….?

Shetlanders must wake up and lose this fear of change, for change is inevitable, and prepare for the future. We may not want a nuclear power station, open cast coal mine or windfarm in our back garden but we all want electricity.

The only thing certain in life is change, whether we like it or not. Idealism lives in our dreams, not in reality or the future.

Bert Morrison
Ireland
Bigton

Prevention better than cure

SHETLAND drugs and alcohol service should spend more time discouraging children from getting involved in drink and drugs before people develop addiction problems, councillors said on Thursday.

Shetland Islands Council’s services committee approved a £318,000 grant to the Community Alcohol and Drugs Service Shetland, on the promise that the Scottish government would stump up the remaining £198,000 to pay for the service for the next financial year.

CADSS is becoming busier due to the increasing levels of drug abuse in the islands and has agreed to improve the way that it monitors the work that it carries out.

On Thursday councillor Cecil Smith said he would like to see more time being spent in local schools discouraging youngsters from getting involved in substance abuse.

He was backed by councillor Alastair Cooper, who agreed: “We have a problem in Shetland. We need to address it at the front end rather than the back end.”

Mr Cooper said he was concerned that the government would not come forward with their share of CADSS funding, after NHS Shetland said that it could not confirm the cash until June.

However SIC head of community care Christine Ferguson said she was very confident that the money would be forthcoming.

Next year the council wants to look at a four year funding package for the service.

Coastguard consultation extended

UK SHIPPING minister Mike Penning, who authorised the plans to close 10 of Britain’s 18 coastguard stations and reduce six to a daytime only service, will be in Shetland next week.

The announcement was made as the government announced they were extending the consultation on closing either Shetland or Stornoway coastguard coordinating station by six weeks.

The government confirmed on Thursday that Mr Penning would visit all three Scottish island groups over a two day period next Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the controversial plans to close the coastguard stations and remove the fleet of four ocean going rescue tugs.

Shetland Islands Council was told two weeks ago that the minister would be visiting in mid March, but the dates were only confirmed on Thursday.

The government had still to organise flights so the actual date of the visit remains unclear as of Thursday evening.

Whenever he arrives, Mr Penning will expect to come under considerable attack from campaigners in all three island groups where feelings are running high about the risks being created by the proposals.

On Wednesday prime minister David Cameron announced that he would personally step into the growing row, insisting that front line services would not be affected by the changes.

The Conservative leader may be sniffing an embarrassing climbdown after the unprecedented scale of resistance to the government’s plans nationwide.

Last month the House of Commons transport sub committee announced they would be holding an inquiry into all the MCA proposals, which include the station closures, the loss of the tugs and the removal of the offshore fire fighting service.

On Thursday the Maritime & Coastguard Agency confirmed that they were extending the consultation on the proposal to close either Lerwick or Stornoway coastguard co-ordinating stations for another six weeks.

The consultation had been due to end on 23 March, but will now continue until 5 May.

That decision was welcomed by northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael, who said it showed that it was a genuine consultation.

“It is only right that everyone with an interest in the future of the coastguard should have the chance to comment on the proposals that have been put forward and I am pleased that the consultation period has now been extended,” he said.
 
“I think everyone recognises that with something as vital as our emergency services, it is more important to get reforms right rather than implement them quickly. What this decision underlines is the fact that this is a genuine consultation and ministers are approaching the issue with an open mind.”

Forced to pay for assault

A LATVIAN who assaulted his former partner after returning home drunk last year was ordered to pay £250 compensation at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Sergejs Davidenkovs, aged 28, admitted pushing the woman to the ground and punching her on the head to her injury when he arrived home at 17a St Magnus Street, Lerwick, on 11 December.

The court heard the assault took place after the woman refused to go out with him that night.

 

Hockey: Whalsay goalie saves the day

Zetland v Reckless

Zetland were awarded the points.


Reckless v Lobbyless

Lobbyless were awarded the points.


Whalsay v Crusaders

Whalsay were awarded the points


New Revolution 2 v Whalsay 5

The game started at a high tempo, with both teams working hard, but it wasn't long until the New Rev had taken full control of the game spreading the ball around with some great movement from the whole team

If it wasn't for the goalkeeping of George Abernethy they could have had the game, but if you don't take your chances then you can get bitten, and that’s what happened, when Whalsay got their only chance of the half and Jamieson scored from a short corner.

This didn't change the way the half was going and New Rev were back controlling the pace of the game, and back on level terms with a great finish from Bryan Irvine after a rebound from a short corner.

There was still time for Whalsay's Karl Williamson to find himself in the sin-bin before half-time with persistent fouls.

The second half again started quickly, but this time with New Rev pushing forward Whalsay were able to break quickly and Zoe Irvine squeezed the ball past the unlucky Bradley to make it 1-2.

New Rev tried to get back into the game but were still finding Abernethy on fine form, and it was Whalsay who struck again to take the wind from New Rev's sails with goals from Williamson and Jamieson.

Before the goal of the night was scored by New Rev giving them a little hope, great work in the midfield by Kevin Gifford and Stacey Laurenson found Peter Sharp surging forward on the right, and with great stick control he left Jamieson for dead and unleashed a reverse stick finish past the helpless Abernethy.

As New Rev were pushing to get back in the game, Whalsay grabbed another right at the end.

Players of the match were Peter Sharp for the New Rev and George Abernethy for Whalsay.

Fixtures for 12 March

6:30pm Zetland v New Revolution (Deltmavine)

7:20pm Lobbyless v Deltmavine (New Rev)

8:05pm Deltmavine v Zetland (Lobbyless)

8:45pm New Revolution v Lobbyless (Zetland)
                                             

Former Unst pupil killed in Afghanistan

THE COMMUNITY of Unst have expressed their shock at the death of a former pupil while on active service in Afghanistan last week.

Lance corporal Liam Tasker shot dead by a sniper while on patrol in Helmand province. His body was being flown to RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire, on Thursday, along with the ashes of his sniffer dog Theo.

The 26 year old was a pupil in S1 and S2 of Baltasound Junior High School between 1996 and 1998 when his family was stationed at RAF Saxa Vord. He most recently lived in Kirkcaldy, in Fife.

On Thursday his former register teacher and now head teacher at Baltasound, Anne O’Neill, said: “The school and the whole community are shocked and saddened to hear about Liams’s death. Liam was a bright and cheerful lad and got on very well with his classmates, and the family is well remembered in the community.

“The school as well as the community has sent cards to his family in Kirkcaldy expressing our condolences.”

L/Cpl Tasker was the 358th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2001.

A powerhouse in the making


SHETLAND is poised on the brink of a revolution in generating renewable energy from the sea, which could bring enormous economic benefits to the community.

Resources in wave and tidal energy around Shetland's coast will become a major asset in the islands’ future, a private meeting heard on Thursday afternoon

Shetland Islands Council’s general industry panel also heard that the isles are still heavily dependent on fuel oil, and that this must be tackled to provide energy security for islanders.

Members of the panel heard a presentation from Ross Gazey, of Unst-based PURE Energy, which has completed the first comprehensive energy usage study for Shetland. 

This provided a detailed insight into how the islands use energy, particularly the fuel oils on which Shetland’s industries and homes are still heavily reliant.

Dr Ross Halliday, of consultants Natural Power, presented what has already been described as a "hugely significant" piece of work that builds on the existing Shetland Marine Spatial Plan, mapping out wave and tidal resources around Shetland.

The marine energy map provoked “significant interest” at a UK marine energy conference held in London last week, according to Shetland Charitable Trust general manager Ann Black and SIC leader Josie Simpson who attended.

Thursday’s meeting was also attended by senior members of the Pelamis/Vattenfall 'Aegir' project team to give an update on the 10MW wave farm they hope to develop off Shetland’s west coast.

Lucy Parsons, representing Orkney Islands Council, provided an insight into the progress being made at the European Marine Energy Centre, in Orkney.

Shetland will start promoting its marine renewable resources at the All Energy Event on 18/19 May in Aberdeen. This will be the first time a team from Shetland has attended the event.

Mr Simpson said: “Today's presentations demonstrate that our industries and communities consume a lot of energy, but that we have a huge opportunity in front of us to make Shetland a renewables powerhouse, not just for our own needs, but meeting those of the rest of the UK.

“However, to accomplish that we need an interconnector cable to the Scottish mainland. That is essential to turn our enormous potential into a profitable reality."

ends

Netball: Senior intercounty

THE THIRTIETH anniversary of the senior inter-county netball was held last Friday at the Pickaquoy centre in Kirkwall.

On Saturday a veterans match was played for the first time to celebrate 30 years of netball along with the A and B matches.

B match

Orkney 25  v Shetland 52

Shetland settled quickly getting the best possible start, racing to a six goal lead before the young Orkney side got out of the blocks. However once they did, Orkney managed to match the Shetland shooters as Laura Gilmuir GA and Hannah Nixon GS began to find form and after the first 15 minutes the score was 14-8 to the visitors.

A scrappy second quarter followed with no side dominating play. Karen MacKay WD was coping well against a nippy Rebecca Scott WA with defenders Louise Moar GK and Maisie Unsworth GD looking confident on the ball.

However too many unforced errors mid court meant Shetland were unable to increase their lead as the Orkney team battled hard to stay with them. The half-time score was 17-23 in Shetland’s favour.

After the half time team talk Shetland piled on the pressure in all areas of the court, dominating the third quarter and really running in the goals. The midcourt combination of Louise Fraser WA and Catherine Williamson C began to control the centre space, feeding shooters Marie Clark GA and Lisa Morrison GS who scored 19 goals to Orkneys three, increasing the lead to 20 – 39 going into the last quarter.

Fiona Dally came on at WD for the final 15 minutes and a comfortable looking Shetland side closed out the game 52 – 25.

The cup was presented by Shetlander Mrs Inga Tait to captain Marie Clark.  Inga also picked her player of the match awarding the honour to Lisa Morrison.


A match

Orkney 44 v Shetland  38

This turned out to be a disappointing game from a spectator’s point of view. The umpires failed to play advantage resulting in a very start/stop affair with no real flow to the game.

It was an even first quarter as both sides tried to find form. Defenders from both sides struggled to find the correct distance to pass muster, with most of the goals being  scored from penalties awarded against them.

With five minutes to go Orkney pulled ahead by three goals. Shetland responded well and scored the next three to level, only to have a turn over against them at a centre, gifting Orkney the lead after 15 minutes play, making it 12-9 to the home side.

The second period saw even more infringements being penalised on court and the constant stopping seemed to affect the Shetland players’ concentration.

Several 50/50 decisions went against them in the mid court, and with the impressive shooting duo of Beverly Campbell GS and Michelle Clouston GA netting their shots, Orkney had the upper hand.

To add to the visitors’ problems, Sophie May Leyland WA fell heavily on her arm and had to leave court for treatment. Inga Woods moved to WA and Victoria Duthie received her first cap coming on at WD. Orkney moved to a 26 - 17 lead at half-time.

The third quarter saw a more composed Shetland side take to the court to begin their comeback. Inga Woods’ movement around the circle was having an impact and with Vicki Henderson C in support the goals began to be scored.

However there was no luck in defence as the defenders were being penalised at every turn with the majority of Orkney’s goals being scored from penalties.  Disaster struck again as a collision on court resulted in Woods playing no more part in the game, badly damaging her ankle and a trip to the Balfour hospital followed.

Leyland returned to the court at WA and Shetland reduced the deficit to 35-28 going into the last quarter.

The final quarter was a hard fought affair with Duthie and Orkney’s Joanna Sinclair WA now locked in a territorial dispute. Umpires were quick to punish them both by advancing play up court against them. Goals were scored time about and as the final whistle was blown the score was  44-38 in favour of the home side.

Mr Ernie Donaldson presented the shield to captain Michelle Clouston. At the match, Orkney player Shona Sclater received her 25th cap, a remarkable achievement for one of Orkney’s sporting greats.

Shetland A team – Kirsti Leask, Sarah Grogan, Sophie May Leyland, Vicki Henderson (capt) Inga Woods, Victoria Duthie, Andrea Tait, Emma Leask.  Subs Debbie Smith and Hazel Uren.


Veterans’ match

Orkney 28 v Shetland 43

A veteran Shetland team involving 13 players, six of whom played in 1981, took on a pool of 23 Orkney veterans, but ended up on top.

The stage was set on Saturday morning in Pickaquoy Centre the excitement mounting and an air of expectation as all the players walked on court, Shetland led by Vaila Kay, Orkney led by Linda Ross and Linda Reeve .

A fit and eager first seven stepped on the court for Shetland - Liz Haining, Stella Oldbury, Valerie Morrison, Anne Wood, Morag Fox, Vaila Kay and Kathleen Johnson.

The hour long game was played in six ten minute slots to accommodate the use of all the Orkney players. Fresh legs often confronted the Shetland players as substitutes ran on and off the court.

Shetland got away to a flying start with some slick up court passing and accurate shooting from Liz and Stella to give them a seven goal cushion before Orkney netted their first goal through Linda Reeve.

After ten minutes Mandy Philips and Janice Johnston came on court and ably assisted  Liz Haining now in defence, working to thwart the persistent Orcadian attack. Jane Macaulay added some smart passes into the attack, many to Vaila Kay who was stirring not only memories but fear into the Orkney defence with her accurate shooting.

Next Audrey Thompson quietly made her way onto court as goal shooter and danced and dodged around the GK netting her first goal for many a year in a Shetland shirt, much to the delight of the Shetland supporters.

The recently injured Freda Leask was unable to play a large part in the game, but was determined to take to court. After a fabulous interception from Vaila Kay followed by quick thinking, an accurate pass allowed Freda, using her signature shooting style, to slot away another successful shot for Shetland, making the half time score 20-16 to Shetland 20.

The game continued to be played in a competitive but friendly, often nostalgic manner. The last of the Shetland subs to take to the court was Mandy Henderson who made her way into the last line of defence for a few minutes of the game. Immediately her accurate back line pass initiated yet another Shetland attack.

At the start of the final time-slot the Shetland players thought that fatigue had caused double vision as two Orcadians for each position took to the court – much laughter for a minute or so!

The still remarkably pacey game finished with the score line at 43-28 to Shetland The whistle blew and warm hand shakes and hugs were the order of the day. Thanks must go to Orkney Netball for their organisation of this event and to all who took part.

Flea floored over golf grant

AN ATTEMPT to drive a council grant to a Shetland golf club into the rough was thwarted when its proposer found no one to back him.

On Thursday councillor Allison Duncan called for Shetland Islands Council’s services committee to block a £10,000 grant to Britain’s most northerly golf club on the isle of Whalsay, arguing that other sport clubs were run entirely by volunteers.

Whalsay Golf Club says it needs the 10 per cent grant to help pay the £22,450 bill for two staff to maintain its green, but Mr Duncan claimed that its members should either do this themselves or increase their membership fee by £82 a year.

“Many clubs don’t pay wages. In my view that money that money can be better used for educational purposes in Shetland,” he said.

His motion found no seconder, even when he pointed out that Orkney and the western isles paid no golfing subsidy nor was one paid to Asta Golf Club in Shetland.

Councillor Josie Simpson, who lives on Whalsay and was voted in as the SIC’s new political leader this week, said it was one of Scotland’s better golf courses and beautifully situated.

“I am very much involved in the financial side of this council and will be more so into the future,” he said.

“But I think we have to keep our minds focussed. We have to look after our young people of Shetland and we have to make Shetland is as attractive a place as we can for folk to come to.”

He said many workers on the new Total gas plant probably played golf and the council hoped to encourage some of them to stay in the isles.

He was backed by Caroline Miller, herself a “trainee golfer”, who extolled the sport’s health benefits.

Councillor Florence Grains reminded members of the praise heaped on Whalsay by Island Games contestants in 2005, describing it as “the most exciting course they had played on”.

And Bill Manson said municipal golf courses attracted many visitors to Ayrshire where he spent part of his childhood, and called the grant “money well spent”.

Last year the golf club’s membership fell from 164 to 150. This was blamed on the poor summer, though the wind and rain failed to put off visitors who arrived from the UK mainland, Faroe, Ireland, Norway, Germany and the USA in equal numbers to 2009.

Numbers may have been boosted by a prominent article in Golf Monthly published following a visit to Whalsay last April and a new junior development practise area built last year with Sportscotland funding.

A report to members suggested the council’s relationship with Whalsay, already tarnished over the islands’ transport links, could be further damaged if the funding was refused.

Drug addict released after shoplifting

A DRUG addict who breached his bail conditions when he was caught shoplifting last month has been released from jail after two weeks behind bars so that he can tackle his drug problems.

The court heard that 25 year old Matthew Smith, of 13 Grodians, Lerwick, was arrested the day after his last court appearance for drug offences. On Monday he pled guilty to stealing a bottle of shampoo from the town’s Tesco superstore on 24 February.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said that Smith had difficulty breaking the cycle of drug taking because of the people that he surrounded himself with.

However defence agent Tommy Allan said he was receiving support from his fiancé who wanted him to kick his drug taking habits.

Sheriff Graeme Napier read out part of a letter that Smith had written to the court in which he described the unpleasantness of injecting heroin.

Sheriff Napier said: “I am aware that some people in Shetland think that heroin is a glamorous drug. It doesn’t seem to be a particularly glamorous drug to me.”

The sheriff agreed to place Smith on a drug treatment and testing order, even though his record suggested there was no enough commitment to make it a success.

As such an order cannot be imposed on someone while they are in prison, the sheriff released Smith on bail on condition that he submit himself to a drugs test any time he was asked to by police officers, including in his own home. Sentence was deferred until 23 March.

ends

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Josie takes the helm

SHETLAND Islands Council has voted in a new political leader as part of major structural changes designed to tackle criticism levelled by local government watchdog the Accounts Commission last year.

Josie Simpson beat councillor Gussie Angus to retain his position as vice convener, with the added responsibility of political leader of the council, chairing a new executive committee that will steer policy and strategy for Scotland’s richest local authority.

He will be supported by four new committee chairs that were voted in during a 90 minute session on Monday afternoon.

The council’s overstretched services committee is being split into two, with councillor Betty Fullerton to chair the new children, families and learning committee, having beaten off Gary Robinson and Bill Manson.

Cecil Smith was unopposed as chairman of communities, health and wellbeing.

Councillor Alastair Cooper was the only candidate to chair the economy and development committee.

No one else was put forward to oppose Iris Hawkins as chair of the environment committee, though she was not at the meeting having been taken to hospital after hurting herself in a fall on Monday afternoon.

Convener Sandy Cluness will remain as convener, however his post will become that of civic leader, earning almost £7,000 less than Mr Simpson as political leader of the council.

Councillors voted to hold off deciding on a raft of further senior positions until their next full council meeting on 23 March, but insisted they wanted to maintain the pace of change.

Only veteran councillor Florence Grains spoke out against separating the role of civic and political head of the council, but could not even find a seconder for her stance.

The changes were proposed after a series of private seminars with chief executive Alistair Buchan, legal chief Jan Riise and local government expert Nigel Stewart, who was drafted in to help with the restructuring.

For the past six months the council has been working towards an improvement plan following a highly critical report from the Accounts Commission on their governance, political leadership and working relations within the authority.

Mr Buchan told members that creating a sturdy decision making structure was probably the single most important factor in a strong local authority.

“The decision you take today will send a powerful signal to the organisation as a whole in terms of change and how the organisation will go forward,” he said.

There was remarkably little disagreement amongst councillors about the proposed new committee structure, though councillor Angus launched into a strong attack on the way the council is run at the moment, describing it as

“fundamentally anti-democratic”.

Only last month Mr Angus stood down as chairman of the service committee and put little heart into his speech to become vice convener, only winning four votes to Mr Simpson’s 16.

Earlier on he had said the council had much to do to improve its game, to communicate its workings to the general public and to improve the “seriously dysfunctional relationships” amongst members and officers.

He called for five back benchers to sit on the new executive committee to “avoid the perception that the council will be run by a cabal”.

There were other quibbles with the details of the new structure, in particular with the cumbersome new committee titles, but Mr Buchan assured members they would have time to reconsider such factors at future seminars and meetings.

After his re-election as vice convener and political leader, Mr Simpson said: “I think it’s a great honour to be voted in and I hope I don’t let you down.”

Stunning swimming

STUNNING was how Lerwick swim team described Callum MacGregor’s gold medal winning performance in the final of the men's 100m freestyle in the 15 and over age group in at the North District Age Group Championships held at the Inverness Aquadome at the weekend.

Macgregor was the second fastest qualifier from the heats and it was all in the touch with the top three finishing with four tenths of a second separating them.

Earlier in the evening the swimmer claimed the bronze medal in the final of the 100m butterfly, having been the seventh fastest qualifier going into the final.

He was on great form over the weekend achieving two second personal best times in the 200m freestyle and slightest of improvement in the 100m breaststroke narrowly missing out on a place in the final.

Sarah Williamson was also in great form at the weekend, competing in the 13/14 year age group. The 13 year old’s six second personal best time in the 200m breaststroke saw her take the silver medal and in the final of the 100m breaststroke her two second personal best time of 1.16.90 saw her take her second silver at this event.

She also enjoyed personal best times in the 100m butterfly of four seconds as well improvements in the 200m individual medley and the 200m freestyle.

There were more medals for the team, in the 13 and under girls relay events with bronze medals in the 4 x100m medley and 4 x 100m freestyle relays for Sara Williamson, Chloe Nicolson, Anne Hutchison and Emmie Hutchison.

Megan Petursdottir had given herself a gruelling schedule at this event, competing in eight events over the weekend and from those qualified for three finals - the 100m freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

She achieved three personal best times during the event, a great performance after only two weeks of full training after suffering a shoulder injury.

Sisters Emmie and Anne Hutchison, competing in their first North District Age Group Championships performed well, Anne swimming in the 100m breaststroke and 100m freestyle, and Emmie swam in the 100m butterfly.

It was a fantastic performance from the 12 year olds, made even sweeter taking the bronze medals in the relay events in this their first major championships.

Chloe Nicolson's two second improvement in the 100m freestyle saw her achieve a time which qualifies her for the Scottish National Age Group Championships in April.

Megan Nicolson took part in the 100m backstroke producing a good solid performance which saw her swim just outside her previous best time.

After the event, head coach Petur Petursson said: "I am delighted with the weekend’s performances. All these fine athletes’ hard work is paying off, with most of these guys heading to the Scottish nationals in a month's time it shows the preparations are going well and the next three weeks will be crucial as we up the training intensity ahead of this major event".

ends

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Mystery bird deaths at Nesbister

MYSTERY surrounds the death of around 20 seabirds that washed up on a scenic beach in Shetland this week.

Scottish Natural Heritage area officer Juan Brown said 14 cormorants and five shags were found on the beach at Nesbister, in Whiteness, on Tuesday.

Mr Brown said it was difficult to point blame at anyone for the deaths, but added: “It was more than natural causes that caused that number of birds to be washed up in one place all of a similar freshness.”

Initially suspicion fell upon the salmon industry, who have cages south of Whiteness Voe, as seabirds are known to either become caught in aquaculture nets or enter cages under the nets.

However David Sandison, of fish farming trades body Shetland Aquaculture, said that he had investigated the deaths and found no connection with any of his members.

“SNH asked me to look into this and make enquiries. I have since talked to the salmon companies in the area and asked for any insight into this and there is absolutely no linkage whatsoever to any of the sites in the area,” Mr Sandison said.

He said that birds do become trapped in nets and cages, but it was unlikely to have anything to do with the fish farms.

There were no signs of the birds being shot or having been caught in a net, he said.

Mr Brown said: “The corpses are a bit of a mystery and we are working closely with the aquaculture industry in case there is a link.”

“Highly questionable and potentially dangerous”

SHETLAND Islands Council is to join the growing list of organisations condemning government plans to close ten of the UK’s 18 coastguard stations as part of a modernisation and cost cutting drive.
 
Of the remaining eight stations only two would operate full time. The station in Lerwick would either close, with the loss of 22 jobs, or be downgraded to a day-time sub-centre.
 
The SIC has now convened a special meeting to discuss its formal response to the consultation, although council convener Sandy Cluness has been outspoken against these plans since they were first published in December, leading a delegation of conveners to meet shipping minister Mike Penning last month.
 
The government also plans to drop the contract for the emergency towing vessels stationed around the UK, remove the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, and review the fire fighting at sea capability.
 
The move has created an outcry across the isles where every community and almost every family has a close relationship with the sea.
 
Councillors will meet on Tuesday to discuss their response. There is likely to be unanimous support for the view that “the downgrading or closure of MRCC Shetland (is) a highly questionable and potentially dangerous prospect”.
 
SIC harbour master Roger Moore and environmental liaison officer John Mouat have spent the last few weeks drawing together a report that covers all angles of the threatened closure, including its socio-economic impact.
 
They said that losing the coastguard staff employed in Shetland would result in the loss of £750,000 leaving the local economy. Losing the emergency towing vessel would withdraw a further £275,000.
 
Quoting a series of telecom outages during 2010, they question the assumption that centralising the coastguard service would increase resilience.
 
“Bitter experience has shown that centralised call centres do not deliver the best service and have, at times, placed individuals in greater harm.
 
“The NHS 24 call centre has regularly tasked medical response to the wrong settlements of similar names and occasionally to the wrong island groups.
 
“The FiReControl system for England and Wales, which effectively proposed centralised call centres, has cost the public purse £435 million with ongoing costs even though the system has now been scrapped.
 
“Comparisons to air traffic control centralisation only highlight the need for local stations.”
 
They added: “The removal of 22 experienced and qualified coastguard officers will result in a reduction in resilience for Shetland. It would leave the islands particularly vulnerable to communications failures between here and the mainland.
 
“The current station provides many benefits to the local community and marine users. The ability to talk directly to local Coastguard officers to get advice and to respond to Traffic Reports (TR’s) is much valued and potentially helps to stop accidents happening in the first place.
 
“The loss of the station would be detrimental in this regard, especially for leisure and small boat users that do not have sophisticated equipment onboard.
 
“The station also allows a liaison officer from other blue light services to be present e.g. the Greenpeace incident with the Stena Carron where a police officer was located in the Coastguard station.
 
“The local knowledge that the station officers provide in tasking local assets to allow emergency services to reach the more remote islands, in all weathers, cannot be over stated.”
 
Earlier this week, MCA managers were left in no doubt that their proposals were not welcome when they hosted a public meeting at the Lerwick town hall, which was attended by more than 100 people.

Little support for discard ban

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has urged caution over European Commission plans to ban fish discards, following Tuesday’s announcement by fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki.

His comments come after UK fishing minister Richard Benyon dismissed the idea of a discard ban after attending the informal summit on the issue in Brussels on Tuesday.

The Scottish fishing industry has also dismissed the plan as impossible to implement.

Ms Damanaki proposed limiting fishermen’s days at sea or introducing a “catch quota” system that allows them to land everything they catch up to their quota limit.

Mr Benyon said the proposals gave the wrong kind of incentives to fishermen, encouraging them to race to fish, target high value species and fish inshore where the most damage could be caused.

“What we want to encourage is fishermen to fish in different places and to fish sustainably…to be good stewards of the sea.”

Mr Carmichael welcomed the attention drawn to the issue by TV chef Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, whose Hugh’s Fish Fight programme generated 650,000 signatures opposing the dumping of dead fish at sea, however he said there was a danger of tackling a symptom without dealing with the disease.

“The disease, of course, is a Common Fisheries Policy which is centralised and bureaucratic and which pays little attention to the people who know most about what is in the sea – the fishermen and scientists who work at sea,” he said. 
 
“In particular, I have long been of the opinion that we need to improve the scientific data which underpins our fisheries management efforts to allow for more accurate stock assessments.

“This will help ensure that the restrictions we place on the actions of the fleet – whether quota levels or days at sea reductions – are fair and ensure that we fish sustainably.”

Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Hansen Black added that a discard ban simply would not work under current circumstances, with stocks constantly changing and fisheries science lagging two years behind current reality.


 

Airport hut window smashed

POLICE in Shetland are appealing for information after a window in a small hut next to the road barriers at Sumburgh airport was smashed during Tuesday night.

Anyone with any information can contact Lerwick police station on 01595 692110

Hockey: New Rev double whammy

Lobbyless 4 v Zetland 2

The game started off with both teams eager for the win. It was not long before Lobbyless opened the scoring through an impressive short corner by Haydn Thomason.

It also wasn't long before Zetland gained an equaliser through India Bradley.

However, the Lobbyless defence of Brenda Leask, Karen McKelvie and Ashley Burgess stayed strong and kept the Zetland attacks at bay.

Lobbyless found the back of the net soon after this with well worked play from Thomason and James Aitken who finished well for his first. It was soon after where a pass from defence found Aitken to get his second of the match, making it 3-1 at half-time.

Zetland started stronger in the second half, getting them the early short corner. Bradley then notched her second as she put it past the Lobbyless keeper, Kristoffer Thomason. However, Thomason’s impressive saves soon paid off as Zetland couldn't convert again.

Aitken then got his hat trick, assisted by Haydn Thomason again, to seal the match for Lobbyless

Players of the match were Brenda Leask for Lobbyless and India Bradley for Zetland


Crusaders v Lobbyless

Lobbyless are awarded the points as Crusaders failed to field a team.


Hurricanes 1 v New Revolution 4

Hurricanes started well, finding Jillian Copland in the box who drifted past the New Rev defence to smash the back board and send the fans into rapturous applause.

New Rev came fighting back into it with captain Peter Sharp leading the charge, picking up two goals in this fiery encounter.

Stacey Laurenson got over her early frustrations to net the other two for New Rev.

Naomi Johnson picked up the Hurricanes player of the match with Jessica Bradley picking it up for New Rev


New Revolution 3 v Deltmavine 1

The second game of the night for the New Rev, was going to be another hard one against the strong Deltmavine team looking to get some more points on the board.

And it showed, with Deltmavine starting the first half with some quick movement up front from Alastair Williamson, Ross MacDougal and Fraser Hall, keeping the New Rev defence of Jessica Badley, Debbie Sneddon and Peter Sharp on their toes.

New Rev were always looking dangerous with quick counter attacks from Danny Finnie, Stacey Laurenson and  Kate Moncrieff, but it was Deltmavine that took the lead with a great through ball from the ever reliable Nicola Blance, who found Hall in the D to cut it back to the on rushing MacDougal to finish for.

This spurred the New Rev on and with some great work in the centre Finnie was able to spread the ball wide left to find Laurenson in the D and with a quick shot she brought out a great save from Megan Nicholson. But the ball fell to Finnie who had kept his run going to dispatch off the rebound to get the New Rev back on level terms.

With the confidence of the goal New Rev started playing their fast passing game again, and it wasn't long until they were rewarded with some short corners. It was from one of these short corners that Stacey Laurenson was able to get on the score sheet with a great strike into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Deltmavine had a few chances to get back in the game with one falling to Hall who brought out the best from the on-form Bradley in the New Rev goal.

New Rev were able to get another goal before the half-time whistle from another short corner which was well worked from Sharp and Laurenson. Sharp was able to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle with a sweet finish.

The second half got underway with Deltmavine determined to get back into the game. New Rev's team worked tirelessly from the front with Lorrie Robertson, Mhari Moncrieff and Finnie in the middle never giving up and closing down the Deltmavine players, giving them no time to break through the defence.

Deltmavine were finding Debbie Sneddon in fine form and Delt's Williamson particularly found it hard to get any joy up against her. Deltmavine had a good number of chances in the second half, but could not beat the outstanding Bradley in goal for New Rev.

Players of the match would have to be Jessica Bradley for New Rev and Ross MacDougal for Deltmavine.


Fixtures for 5 March

6:30pm Zetland v Reckless (Whalsay)

7:20pm New Revolution v Whalsay (Reckless)

8:05pm Reckless v Lobbyless (New Rev)

8:45pm Whalsay v Crusaders (Lobbyless)                                              

Netball: Age trumps youth... just

Division One – SLNA

Kinetics 36 v AHS 34

Kinetics were awarded the first centre pass and got off to a furious start. Having not played for a few weeks, they were keen to gain maximum points.

Kinetics started strongly. Fiona Shearer (C) and Louise Fraser (WA) were working well together, managing to split the AHS defenders around the circle. Having been training earlier in the night, Sarah Grogan (GA) and Kirsti Leask (GS) had their eye in from the outset, failing to miss a goal scoring opportunity. Kinetics pulled ahead 16-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The young AHS team returned to the court fired up and ready for action. Emma Leask (GK) and Sophie-May Leyland (GD) were using their long reach against the Kinetics shooters, making shooting opportunities more difficult. Rebounds were 50:50, and the youngsters’ height usually clinched it for AHS.

At the other end, Clare Morris (GS) and Debbie Smith (GA) were beginning to find their form. Not to be outshone, the Kinetics’ defence of Vaila Hough (GK) and Andrea Tait (GD) were working tirelessly, forcing the youngsters to shoot from afar, thus ensuring Hough and Tait picked up the rebounds, linking with Cheryl Simpson (WD) and Shearer to counter attack back up the court.

Unfortunately, Kinetics lost Louise Fraser in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Kinetics reshuffled, bringing on Chloe Miller at GS. Grogan moved to WA, and Leask to GA. AHS took advantage of a spell of unsettledness by Kinetics, and squeezed back a few goals to bring the half time score to 23-18 in Kinetics’ favour.

AHS kept the pressure on Kinetics moving into the third quarter, when teams usually start to fatigue. Simpson, for Kinetics, switched to WA for a spell, and Ingrid Nicol was introduced at WD. Both worked well in the mid-court, with Shearer supporting at both ends.

The AHS line-up remained unchanged, however their age and fitness certainly tested their older counterparts. Not to be outplayed, Kinetics upped their game, as they at times outran the youngsters. Allie Elphinstone (C) and Megan Keppie (WD) were working hard in midcourt, trying to use shorter, harder passes, to prevent interceptions. As both teams pressed forward for more goals, the third quarter finished with the gap remaining unchanged – Kinetics still ahead 28-23.

With all to play for, AHS resumed with a new formation. Leyland had changed to Centre to try to inject some pace into the remaining 12 minutes. Simpson and Shearer did a grand job of blocking Leyland and Elsphinstone (now WA) off the circle. Likewise, Tait and Hough were tight on in the AHS shooting circle.

Kinetics did get rattled for a short time, before they got their act together, and refocused. Kinetics were aware that the gap was closing in on them. They made sure they took all their chances, and Grogan and Leask won rebounds. These were converted into goals thankfully, as the clock ran down. The final score saw Kinetics victorious by a marginal 36-34.

Best on the night, in what was a fantastic game, was defender Megan Keppie for AHS. While, despite a good team performance, it was the consistency of Sarah Grogan, who outshone her teammates.


Division Two  - Ocean Kinetics

Hootfooters 44 v Supernova 24

Nova opened the scoring and took a three goal lead early on mainly due to several over ambitious final balls being wasted by Hotfooters. However once settled they began to capitalise on mid court mistakes by Nova and moved to an 11 – 7 lead after 15 minutes play.

The second period saw Nova working well in attack with Liz Haining (GA) feeding a long high ball into Marianne Williamson (GS) causing problems for Hotfooters defence. Score 19 – 13 for Hotfooters at half time.

The third quarter saw the youngsters really begin to move at speed on the court with Lauren Odie (C) in full flight and dominating the mid court. Hannah Manson (WD) and Iona Holmes (GD) also played superb supporting roles in attack and defence and along with Liza Fullerton (GS) and Haley Tulloch (GA) netting all their shots, Hotfooters increasing their lead to 33 – 17.

Credit to Nova who finished strongly in the last quarter. Emma Rose and Jenny Wylie began to close down the space in the circle restricting shooting opportunities for Fullerton and Tulloch.

The game finished 44 – 26 with Lauren Odie picking up the player of the match for Hotfooters and Emma Rose the player of the match for Supernova.

Wastside v Unst

Game postponed due to weather


Division 3 – Evelyn Rae

Scallywags 25 v Da Hooligans 26

Due to the prior game being cancelled because of the bad weather, both teams opted to play their match earlier and Scallywags went on to win the first centre pass which signalled the start of a very close game.

Da Hooligans were quick to settle with accurate passing through their centre court into their shooters, who despite being marked closely were finding their shots on target.

Not long into this first quarter, Scallywags sadly lost Freda Leask through injury and saw Cyndi Pottinger replacing her as GA. Scallywags fought back and with accurate shooting from both Cyndi Pottinger GA and Anne-Marie Robinson GS saw them finish 7-6.

As the second quarter got underway, Scallywags were still trying to find their form and were losing their passes to Da Hooligans who were working well together with great linking play from Karis Irvine C through to Zoe Irvine WA into Rhea Kay GS and Lara Kay GA who were finding the net making Dana Stewart GK and Laura Saunders GD work tirelessly in defence to intercept their rebounds.

However Scallywags’ Gwen Malcolmson C and Meg Laurenson WA were linking well in their centre court and providing support around their attacking circle for their shooters, Robinson and Pottinger who were also shooting accurately. As the half time whistle went it was Da Hooligans who went into the third quarter leading 12-15.

Scallywags saw changes to their team at half time with Andrea Henderson coming on as WA and Meg Laurenson to WD.  As the game got underway, Scallywags were now finding their form and were producing some great all round end-to-end play with accurate shooting from Robinson and Pottinger making Da Hooligans defence work hard to intercept any rebounds.

Da Hooligans were also playing well with fast, accurate passing through their centre court into their shooters who were also on form with their shooting.  As the whistle went to end this quarter it was Da Hooligans who were leading 19-22.

With the last quarter underway, Scallywags had now found their form and knew they had everything to play for if they wanted to win this match. This resulted in a very fast, end-to-end match by both teams which saw Scallywags close the gap on Da Hooligans with Pottinger and Robinson finding their shots on goal bringing the score to 25-25.

With the last few minutes left of the game both teams were determined to come out as the winner but it was a goal from Da Hooligans that sealed the game from them as the final whistle went.

Players of the match were Anne-Marie Robinson, Scallywags and Zoe Irvine, Da Hooligans.

“World changing” movie weekend

TWO “world changing” movies are to be screened in Lerwick this weekend, with some free tickets for members of the Co-operative.

Shetland Film Club is bringing Scotland’s Take One Action film festival to screen an inspiring film about the Palestinian crisis and an entertaining view of one American family’s attempt to reduce their carbon footprint.

The screenings will be followed by an audience discussion led by local enthusiasts touching on what local people can do to make a difference.

Described by the New York Times as “the must-see documentary of the year”, Budrus describes the work of Ayed Morrar, an unlikely community organiser, who unites Palestinians and Israelis in an unarmed struggle to save the olive groves of his village from an Israeli security, or separation, fence.

Victory seems improbable until his 15 year old daughter Iltezam launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. In the process, they unleash an inspiring yet little-known movement in the West Bank that is still gaining ground today.  The film carries a PG certificate.

No Impact Man (cert 15), described by the Los Angeles Times as “terrifically entertaining, compelling and extremely funny”, invites you to imagine going a year without toilet paper, TV, coffee, a refrigerator and many other creature comforts we take for granted.

In 2008, guilty Manhattanite Colin Beavan, wife Michele, their two year old daughter and their dog embark on a year-long crusade to drastically reduce their carbon foot and paw prints. Hilarity, compromise and hard lessons ensue...But which way do the real solutions lie?

Festival patrons Ken Loach and Glasgow-based screenwriter Paul Laverty said “"These are fantastic films, and Take One Action's focus on empowering local audiences to engage with global and environmental issues through them is unique in the UK."

Festival director, Simon Bateson, who will be in attendance, said “Films really can change the world, but only when audiences share ideas for action together and decide to become part of the story. That’s what Take One Action is all about.”

Budrus will screen at the Shetland Museum and Archives on Friday 4 March at 7.30pm, and No Impact Man on Saturday 5 March at 7.30pm.

The visit has been supported by Shetland Arts, the Shetland Arts Fund and UNISON (Local Government).

Tickets, which cost £6 and £4 (concessions), are available on the door and from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre, 01595 745555 or online at www.shetlandboxoffice.org.

There are a number of free tickets available to Co-operative Members who email their preferred film, venue and membership number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on the programme, visit www.takeoneaction.org.uk or www.facebook.com/takeoneaction

Scott calls for unity on fuel duty

SHETLAND MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott has called on Holyrood to send a clear message to Westminster that the action must be taken to tackle the soaring cost of fuel at the pumps.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday evening’s debate in the Scottish Parliament for fuel duty, Mr Scott said MSPs must unite behind the three motions on the table.

He said: “The UK government should scrap the planned rise in fuel duty. That was planned before the Middle East went into turmoil and world oil prices soared. The rise is now unaffordable and should go.

“Next, the island fuel discount scheme, which will cut the price of fuel in Shetland by five pence a litre, needs to be implemented as quickly as possible. When I met Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the treasury, last week, I stressed the vital importance of this. He assured me that he is pushing hard to get the negotiations with Brussels completed so that the scheme can be implemented.

“Last, I hope that all MSPs will back the call for a fuel stabiliser, which would offset rises in the cost of oil by cutting fuel duty. This could be funded by the extra revenue the government gets from the UK oil fields as the oil price rises. Westminster has got to look hard at how this can be made to work.

“A clear message is needed from Holyrood that the ‘do nothing’ option is not acceptable. Across Shetland, across Scotland and across the UK families are being hit hard, as are businesses. Rising oil prices push up cost across the board – at the pumps and in the shops. Action is needed and MSPs of all parties must unite to call for it.” 

MCA: closing station will improve safety

MORE than 100 islanders firmly rejected plans to close or downgrade the Shetland coastguard coordinating station at a public meeting held in Lerwick Town Hall on Monday night.

Three senior managers with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) were unable to convince the audience that their proposals would actually make Shetland waters safer during a tense 90 minute question and answer session.

The MCA published its controversial proposals to close 10 of its 18 coastguard stations last December.

Their plan would leave just two 24 hour Maritime Operation Centres (MOCs) covering the whole of the UK, at Aberdeen and Southampton/Portsmouth.

These would be supported by six “fully integrated sub-centres” operating during the daytime only at either Shetland or Stornoway, Humber, Liverpool or Belfast, Swansea, Falmouth and at Dover.

The MCA’s regional director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Bill McFadyen, said the changes would allow the service to respond to emergencies in a “smarter and more focused manner”.

Mr McFadyen, who worked as a watch officer at the Lerwick station between 1985 and 1993, said the restructuring was long overdue, would strengthen the network’s resilience and enhance maritime safety. It would also make better use of staff time, skills and technology.

The proposed changes would not reduce the number of coastguard volunteers and would increase the number of sector managers, he said. They would also not affect coverage from lifeboats and search and rescue helicopters, and would not change current radio communication and 999 arrangements.

Mr McFayden said he could understand the fear and anxieties of islanders, but added that it was crucial for the MCA to make better use of the resources it has.

“I can understand the local concern. None of us like to see a local facility of any sort be taken away from the community.

“What I will say is that at present we find ourselves in a position where at times the teams in Shetland can find themselves extremely stretched when there is a major incident. At present we have little opportunity to support a particular team quickly.

“The new system will allow us to manage the resources that we have, the men and women in the rescue coordination centres, in a more effective manner so that we can better target their skills to carry out the work that has to be required around the United Kingdom including here in Shetland.”

Assistant director for ICT James Findlay added that communication links between Shetland and the rest of the UK would improve thanks to BT linking in to the Faroese fibre optic cable. Even without the new connection, communication links had in the past been 99.86 per cent reliable, he said.

The local ‘Save our Station’ campaign said they believed better resilience would be provided by properly equipping the current 18 stations rather than closing down ten of them.

PCS union representative Alex Dodge, a Lerwick watch officer, said the meeting failed to give any reassurance to staff working at the Shetland station and left her “absolutely furious”.

“I feel the members of the public in the hall were not convinced by the arguments from management. Their fears were not allayed,” she said.

Following the meeting, islanders expressed their disbelief and anger. Round the world yachtsman Andrew Halcrow said the proposals did not make any sense.

“I was quite stunned when a slide came up saying that when the station here would close then safety would be enhanced. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how they have arrived at that conclusion. This is definitely a reduction in the service. I am very disappointed,” he said.

Retired head of ports and harbours with Shetland Islands Council, George Sutherland, said the reduction in the number of full time Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres (MRCC) from 18 to two was “a step too far”.

“I feel it was worthwhile coming here tonight to hear what the managers of the MCA had to say, but I am not persuaded that their proposals are workable for this area.

“There may well be a case for a review of the coastguard, but a review that includes the removal of the MRCC from Shetland is not acceptable,” the former chairman of the Northern Lighthouse Board said.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, who is fighting within the UK government for the retention of the Lerwick coastguard station, said he believed the meeting had helped.

“There was a great deal of very strong feelings here about the possibility of losing the coastguard station.

“I think it is good that senior management from the coastguard agency was able to hear that. I was slightly concerned that at the end of the night there seemed still rather more questions than answers.”

He added: “I am confident that Shetland’s voice has already been heard, no more eloquently than it has been tonight.”

The MCA managers insisted that the consultation process was genuine and that no decision had yet been taken. The consultation runs until 24 March, and they urged anyone with an interest in the issue to submit their views on the proposals by that deadline.

The MCA is hosting a similar public meeting in Stornoway on Tuesday night.

Shetland Islands Council has convened a special meeting on 8 March to discuss its response to the ongoing consultation process.

Police investigate break-ins

A TWENTY three year old man has been arrested after entering a house in Sandveien, in Lerwick, and stealing a number of “personal items”, on Sunday evening.

Police said the young man initially fled the scene after being discovered by the householder, but was arrested shortly afterwards. He was charged with theft and also breach of the peace.

Meanwhile, police are asking for witnesses to come forward after “a number of high value items” were stolen from a house in Burgh Road, also in Lerwick, in the early hours of Sunday.

This latest break-ins have prompted officers to repeat their advice to householders to secure their properties at all times, and “particularly during the night and whenever your house will be left unattended”.

In other incidents during the weekend, police seized a stereo from a house in Ladies Drive and reported its occupier to the procurator fiscal after having been called to the address on three separate occasions during the weekend following complaints about loud music.

Finally, a 16 year old boy was charged with vandalism after damage was caused to a house in the Sunhamar area of Lerwick.

Green light for NorsePharm

SCALLOWAY is set to get a new pharmacy on a site adjacent to the Kiln Bar after an application by NorsePharm to provide pharmaceutical services was approved by the Shetland Pharmacy Practices Committee, last week.

The meeting of the committee was held last Tuesday but its outcome was only made public on Monday.

The NorsePharm application has caused a huge outcry in the village with the local community voicing its opposition to the plans. They were backed by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott who agreed that the application would threaten the viability of the local GP services.

The Scalloway doctors have said they were set to lose a third of their business and have lodged a rival application.

On Monday, Mr Scott said he would seek a revision of the rules governing pharmacy applications as the decision had gone against the wishes of the community.

However, on Tuesday, the seven strong committee, chaired by NHS Shetland non-executive director Keith Massey, concluded that pharmaceutical services in the area were “inadequate” and granted NorsePharm the right to open a pharmacy in Scalloway.

They said that the Scalloway surgery provides a dispensing service only and not a pharmacy services as defined by the Pharmacy Contract.

In a statement, NHS Shetland said: “The committee also carefully considered all the feedback received from the public consultation, which predominately centred on concerns for the future of the Scalloway surgery rather than an objection to the provision of pharmacy services.

“The committee concluded that the provision of a pharmacy would add to the range and quality of health care delivered to patients in the Scalloway area.  A pharmacy in Scalloway would provide patient choice, as currently patients have to travel to Lerwick to access these services. 

“The application was considered both necessary and desirable in order to secure adequate provision of pharmaceutical services.”

Mr Massey added: “I would like to thank everyone involved in the process.  The Pharmacy practices committee took a great deal of time and care in reaching the decision.  The members carried out their difficult roles very thoroughly and I appreciate the work they put in.”
 
Mr Scott said: “I am very disappointed that the clearly expressed view of the Scalloway community, which was that they wanted to retain their present dispensing GP setup, has been overlooked.  There is an appeal process. I would encourage the Scalloway GPs to give serious consideration to lodging an appeal.

“There can be no question that the way the current regulations are being interpreted and applied has worked against the clear interests and wishes of the Scalloway community.

“I plan to pursue this – the regulations need to be revised so that they cannot be interpreted in this way with the valid interests of a community being ignored as they have been this time.”

Viking the right thing for Shetland - Marchant

THE Viking Energy wind farm project, in Shetland, will go ahead regardless of the extent of community involvement, according to Ian Marchant, the chief executive of Scottish & Southern Energy, a 50 per cent partner in the 457 megawatt venture.

Mr Marchant was in Shetland at the end of last week to launch an ambitious and innovative £46 million programme that will, over time, allow the isles’ electricity network to accept more domestic and small scale renewable energy.

The chief executive took also time to speak about the controversial 127 turbine Viking Energy wind farm, the other project in Shetland the utility is involved in.

Viking Energy is a 50/50 partnership between SSE and Viking Energy Limited, which is made up of the Shetland Charitable Trust (90 per cent) and four 2.5 per cent share holdings by the directors of the Burradale wind farm.

Mr Marchant acknowledged that projects such as this one have the potential to fuel emotions which he described as “genuinely held but frequently the fear of the unknown”.

“What we generally find is that once the wind farm is built and the community benefits start flowing, these objections stop.

“We are at a difficult point in the Viking Energy project where strong feelings are being generated. I am convinced the wind farm is right thing for Shetland.

“We started out with a 600 megawatt wind farm, we reduced that to 540 megawatt, and we are now down to about 450 megawatt, because we have listened and we have taken away turbines.

“We feel that we have now got the balance right. The project is at the right scale and size to support the interconnector, to make the economics work and to maximize the wind resources in Shetland,” he said.

He continued saying that Shetland’s community involvement was a strong selling point and made key players in government and industry take notice.

But it was up to the community, he said, whether or not it wanted to take advantage of the arrangements in place. The success of the project itself was not dependent on the community angle and SSE could go it alone if it had to, Mr Marchant said.

“The project is a robust economically viable project. It will go ahead. The community ownership is a key plus from my point of view, but the project will go ahead, it does not stand or fall.

“And if the community says it does not want to put in its money, or just want to take a royalty, then that’s acceptable. It is not a problem.

“We would prefer if the community stayed on as a part owner, but it is up to community to decide what they want to do.

“I feel our partner in all this is the community in Shetland. We always have regarded this as a joint project between SSE and Shetland. The vehicle Shetland uses to do that is the choice of the community – it’s not my choice,” he said.

Referring to Shetland long standing involvement with the oil and gas industry, Mr Marchant added that from his prospective the local community was good and experienced in making the right decisions.

A planning consent application under section 36 of the electricity act has been made to Scottish Ministers and sits with officials at the Energy Consents Unit in Glasgow.

If a decision on whether to grant permission, call a public inquiry or refuse the application is not been made by the middle of March, it is unlikely that it will be reached until after the Scottish Parliament elections on 5 May.