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Broadband slower than tall ships

AS the biggest maritime celebration in 12 years is to kick off on Thursday, British Telecom is working flat out to increase much needed capacity and speed on Shetland’s overstretched broadband connections.

The telecommunications giant said on Wednesday that islanders and thousands of visitors were experiencing slow speeds for two reasons: congestion in the network and too many cruise ships in the area interfering with the radio links between Shetland and the Scottish mainland.

A BT spokesman said interference from ships in the area have now been reported to the regulator OFCOM as vessels were not allowed to operate their satellite networks in a certain bandwidth within UK territorial waters.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said some broadband was generally slower than the sailing ships battling against northerly winds to arrive in Shetland for the Thursday start of the Tall Ships Races.

He said the disruption to the telecommunications network came at the most inconvenient time as Shetland was buzzing with visitors.

“Everyone needs and expects their mobile phone and laptop to have full speed internet access,” he said.

BT spokesman Mitch Reed said the company was fully aware of the problem and were doing all they could to alleviate the problems.

“BT is aware of two separate issues that have been affecting broadband on Shetland in the past few days. Firstly, congestion in the network appears to have been caused by significantly higher than usual demand for broadband services on the islands.

“This led to intermittent broadband problems, particularly at peak times for internet use.

“Core network engineers are working around the clock to resolve the issues and are installing new hardware to increase capacity while work is ongoing on major long-term projects. We’re sorry for any disruption that has been caused in the interim.”

He added: “Secondly, disruption to the radio links from the mainland to the Shetland Islands has been caused by cruise ships in the region operating on similar frequencies.

“This has affected services to end users, including loss of service and disconnection when online.

“This has been reported to OFCOM as its Policy guidance regarding authorisation for Earth Stations on Vessels (ESVs) states that: ESVs operating to satellite networks in the band 5925-6425 MHz, are not authorised within 300km of the UK coastline.”

Lerwick Port Authority and relevant shipping agents have also been informed.

Please see also: Really fast broadband for the Tall Ships - thanks to Faroe Telecom

Two local teams enter Mongol Rally

WTF is a Perodua team members Andrew Hawick, Kevin Williamson and Stuart Cameron with their support team Nicola Williamson, Ava MacDonald and Donna Simpson (left) and Team Shetland's Richard Price and Richard Rowland (right).THURSDAY will see the departure of not one but two teams from Shetland leaving the isles facing the daunting prospect of driving around 11,000 miles all the way to Ulan Bator, in Mongolia.

The Mongol Rally could be described as one of the last adventures left for real lads, a journey into the unknown that attracts between 300 and 400 entries from across Europe every year.

Crossing 16 countries, including hundreds of miles of desert in around six weeks is nothing for the light-hearted, yet something Lerwick lads Andrew Hawick, Kevin Williamson and Stuart Cameron will be endeavouring to complete the journey in a tiny Malaysian car, a Perodua Kenari.

The second team throwing their towel into the ring is Team Shetland, made up of Richard Rowland, from Vaila, and Skerries man Richard Price, incidentally the oldest team in the whole race.

The two Richards travel in an S-registered former ambulance vehicle, renamed Florence, which – on arrival – they intend to donate to the Mongolian authorities.

The official start for the British teams is on 23 July from the Goodwood Circuit, in East Sussex. The rest starts from Prague, in the Czech Republic.

Asked about his inspiration behind the move, Richard Rowlands said: “Mountaineers climb mountains, because they are there; I’m going on the rally because I’m here.”

Andrew Hawick, from rivals WTF is a Perodua added: “I still can’t believe it is happening. Until we are on the boat and then sitting in the car driving down to Goodwood it will not sink in.”

The two teams are bound to face some pretty tough challenges along the way, including crossing the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

One of the biggest unknowns apparently is how to book a place on the ferry crossing the Caspian Sea.

During the year long preparation both teams have been highly successful in raising funds for charity.

Team Shetland has already raised over £9,000 for the Christina Noble Children Foundation, which assists and nurtures street and destitute children in Mongolia, the RNLI and local charity Mind Your Head.

This is being topped - at the moment - by the £15,000 WTF is a Perodua has raised so far for the Christina Noble Children Foundation, RNLI and Shetland Befriending Scheme.

Once on their way, the teams’ progress can be followed at the websites www.facebook.com/pages/Mongol-Rally-2011-Shetland-to-Mongolia-team-WTF-is-a-perodua/165248546848711?sk=app_2309869772 and at www.teamshetland.com 

Hockey: Whalsay wins Lizzie Polson Cup

Lizzie Polson Cup Final

Burra 1 – 2 Whalsay

Shetland Hockey’s second bit of silverware was up for grabs last Thursday night as Burra met Whalsay in the Lizzie Polson cup final. Burra started the game with the pass back, but it was Whalsay that had the first chance in the first minute of the game: A great through ball from Alison Williamson, found Nicola Duthie who could only fire the ball across the goal.

Both teams were struggling to keep possession in the early minutes of the game. This was costly for Whalsay, as a ball out of defence was intercepted by the Burra attack, and they quickly pounced. Stacey Laurenson won the ball and played in Karen Mckelvie, who then dinked a great little through ball to Kristan Robertson, who was able to knock the ball past the Whalsay goalie at the near post: 1-0 Burra.

Burra were keen to increase their lead and straight from the restart were able to win their first short corner of the game. Robertson played it out to Laurenson who fired it just wide of the right hand side of goal.

For the next 10 minutes both teams were finding it hard to keep the ball, with good defending from both teams. On 14 minutes, Whalsay did have the Burra goalie beaten, but after a discussion between the umpires it was ruled to have been a shot from outside the D, so no goal.

After 17 minutes Whalsay’s captain Maggie Irvine was introduced to the game, but found Whalsay having to defend three more short corners from Burra in quick succession. Burra were unable to take advantage of any of these, and Whalsay cleared their lines well.

25 minutes gone and Whalsay were starting to take control of the midfield; from this Zoe Irvine played a great through ball in towards goal, where Nicola Duthie bravely slid in to just deflect the ball wide of goal. Burra’s defence was holding strong at this point with Kristy Halcrow and Kayti Jeromson doing well, but were finding it difficult to hold up Zoe Irvine.

It was due to some magical play from Zoe Irvine that Whalsay finally levelled. In the last minute of the first half Irvine picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch and drove forward with the ball beating three players with her wonderful stick work, entered the top of the D and struck the shot into the bottom left corner: 1-1 at halftime.

Whalsay started the second half, but it was Burra that caused the first bit of danger when Laurenson and Robertson linked well down the right, with a neat 1-2 Robertson was able to drive into the D but was cleared by the Whalsay rear guard.

For the next 10 minutes both teams had chances at either end, with Whalsay’s Zoe Irvine and Maggie Irvine pulling the strings for Whalsay, and Burra relying on quick breaks through to their forward players.

At 50 minutes Burra were able to win there 5th short corner of the game. It was injected in to Laurenson to strike but Maggie Irvine was out fast to close down. Burra’s 6th short corner was injected by Mckelvie to Robertson who was fouled and Burra’s 7th short corner was awarded. Again Maggie Irvine was out fast to clear the danger.

Now it was time for Whalsay to attack. Their midfield magician Zoe Irvine was always looking dangerous in the final 3rd of the pitch. She was able to pick up the ball and go passed three opponents and play Alison Williamson in the D, who found Deborah Mouat to flick the ball past the Burra goalie after 55minutes: 2-1 Whalsay.

Burra tried to get right back into the game and Sarah Young had a strike on goal which just went wide. Whalsay were working hard to press the Burra midfield, with Maggie Irvine leading by example. Both teams had chances in the last minutes of the game.
 
Players of the Match were Kayti Jeromson for her defending throughout the game, and Maggie Irvine who grabbed hold of this game determined to take the trophy home to Whalsay. The trophy was presented to Whalsay’s team captain by Kim Coutts, Lizzie Polson’s granddaughter.

Fiona Dally was injured during the game and everyone in Shetland hockey wishes her a speedy recovery.


Shearer Shield

Delting 1 -2 Burra
 
Burra got off to a flying start, with a quick break through the middle of the park resulting in an early goal by Lorrie Robertson. This seemed to give Delting the nudge they needed and they immediately improved their play, with Jillian Copland controlling the centre of the park.

Good movement from Lauren Peterson and Lauren Devonald down the left wing created space up front and Brenda Leask was on the end of a good cross in to equal the score. Burra were constantly dangerous on the break however and they were rewarded with a short corner just after the restart.

Nicola Blance defended well for Delting to block the initial shot but Kirsten Robertson was first to react in a scramble for the ball and netted Burra’s second of the night. The remainder of the half was played at a good tempo with Delting keeping good possession and coming close to equalising on a few occasions.

The second half saw Delting coming out strong with Julie Crossan playing well down the right wing and linking with Donna Murray on the forward line who saw a good strike saved well by Sarah Cooper in the Burra goal.

Burra again threatened the Delting defence, with Laurenson and Robertson combining well with one-twos in a fast break but Jessalin Fraser did well to close down the danger and see it out of play.

Delting dominated  the park when they had the ball and were unlucky to not score when a scramble in the penalty area saw Murray’s shot go narrowly wide after strong link up play with Blance, Copland, and Kerry Burgess.

Towards the end of the half Burra pushed forward and came close from a reverse flick from Laurenson but Delting defended well to clear the danger.

A close fought game ended 2-1 to Burra with Murray best on the night for Delting and Robertson earning the accolade for Burra.


Spurs 1 -2 Scalloway

On a magical night in Brae, the Scalloway Hufflepuffs met the Slytherin Spurs for an epic duel.

Hufflepuffs started at a fast pace and settled quickly allowing Hannah “Potter” Burgess to slip the golden snitch into the back of the net with her nimbus 3000.

Slytherin reacted via visiting wizards Mhari 'Weasly' Angus and Jean 'Dumbuldore' Winchester, casting the ball right, left and centre. With Hufflepuff still on the attack “Potter” Burgess swooped into the net her second goal. Slytherin's strong defence stepped up allowing the forwards to mount and attack. With the attackers dodging bludgers to create an opportunity for “Dumbuldore” Winchester to work her magic and take back one for Slytherin to end the first half 2-1.

After some reviving potions at half time both teams set out to conquer the snitch. Each player determined as the next saw some great play from both sides. Rhiannon long-bottom Inkster stayed strong in the “Hufflepuff” Scalloway defence to sweep “Slythering” Spurs off their broom sticks.

Slytherin slipped forward on the attack and were unlucky not to conjure some goals, but goalie Christine “Granger” Georgeson saw those bludgers off. Ending the game 2-1.

A big thanks to all of the Slytherin visitors. Players of the match were, Jean Winchester of Spurs and Michaela Johnson for Scalloway.

Sea Shepherd bond set at 1 million euros

THE FOUNDER of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has appealed to the organisation’s many supporters to help raise $1.4 million to free their flagship Steve Irwin from detention in Lerwick harbour.

Paul Watson said the organisation had now to fight for its vessel since the Maltese fishing company Fish & Fish Limited have brought a civil lawsuit against the group.

The Steve Irwin is currently berthed in Lerwick harbour, and was last night moved from Morrison Dock to Hoegan, on the Bressay side of the harbour, to make space for the visiting tall ships.

The vessel arrived in Shetland last week to launch a two month campaign against the controversial annual pilot whale grind in the Faroe Islands, in which up to 1,000 of the sea mammals are being slaughtered.

Sea Shepherd learned late on Tuesday that they had to deposit a bond of $1.4 million (£875,000 or 1 million euros) to free their vessel, after it was served with a court order on Friday.

Fish & Fish alleges that the radical environmentalists had rammed a bluefin tuna pen off the Libyan coast, in summer last year, releasing 600 fish weighing some 35 tonnes. The company says it had suffered damages of 1 million euros.

Sea Shepherd said the fish were caught illegally and they had the evidence to prove that claim.

Mr Watson said: “They are claiming damages for the bluefin tuna we rescued from their nets in June 2010, fish that we believe were illegally caught after the season had closed, without an inspector onboard, or any paperwork documenting the legality of their catch.

“We have a legal firm representing us, and believe we have the necessary evidence to support our case.

“This lawsuit will also give us the opportunity to expose what we allege to be illegal activities by Fish and Fish and we will be aggressively defending the case on this basis.”

In a statement on the group’s website, Mr Watson urged Sea Shepherd supporters to help raise the money as quickly as they could, as otherwise “the Steve Irwin will be held indefinitely and possibly sold”.

In brief for 19 July 2011

Skull dredged up

POLICE in Shetland are making enquiries after a local shellfish boat dredged up a human skull, west of the isles.

The human remains have been sent to a forensic lab in Aberdeen to establish its identity.


Steve Irwin to be moved

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship Steve Irwin, currently detained in Lerwick harbour and berthed at Morrison Dock, will be moved to make space for the arriving tall ships.

Lerwick Port Authority obtained a court permission on Tuesday to move the vessel to Hoegan, on the Bressay side of the harbour.

On Friday, the Steve Irwin was served with a court order after a Maltese fishing company Fish & Fish had raised a civil case in the British courts against the organisation.

Sea Shepherd’s other vessel, the Brigitte Bardot, has meanwhile reached Faroe and was expected to arrive in Torshavn on Thursday night.


Hospital on emergency power

NHS Shetland has reassured patients and the public that there is no reason for concern after the Gilbert Bain Hospital’s power supply failed on Sunday.

The hospital has since been powered by a generator supply, while Scottish & Southern Energy continues to establish the reasons behind the failure.

A spokeswoman said: “In terms of service provision, there is no reason for patients or the public to be concerned. 

“It was however decided to cancel some theatre time this morning (Thursday) - elective (planned) operations only.”


New LPA chairman

LERWICK business man Harry Jamieson has been appointed new chairman of the Lerwick Port Authority.

He is to swap roles with outgoing chairman Brian Anderson, who has been made vice-chairman.

Mr Jamieson said: “Our next focus will be on a new whitefish market and further offshore decommissioning opportunities.   But of course the focus this week is on the Tall Ships and I am sure Lerwick will deliver a great occasion.”


Romania project

VOLUNTEERS from the Shetland to Romania Orphanage Project 2011 are set to leave for Brasov, a city in the Transylvania region of Romania, in a week’s time.

The group plans to run a series of activities ranging from sports and games to arts and crafts with around 70 children from three orphanages, aged between four and 19.

They are taking over £4,000 with them, donated by the Shetland public and raised through the numerous fundraising events organised by the group over the past eleven months.

A spokesman said the group would like to thank everybody who has helped “raise money, donated money or who donated goods or simply helped out in any other way”.

Tall ships start to arrive

The Polish barquentine Pogoria at Sumburgh Head on Wednesday morning - Photo: Ronnie RobertsonAS THE fleet of 56 tall ships are slowly making their way to Shetland against the continuous northerly breeze, neighbouring Orkney has declared the visit of more than 20 vessels taking part in the Cruise in Company a “whirlwind success”.

Only a few vessels made it as far north as Unst, Yell, and Whalsay over the weekend to participate in local celebrations and galas.

Orkney Islands Council convener Stephen Hagan said the islands had showcased themselves as a “premier stopover” and that there was “no better place for the Tall Ships to come to”.

“Everyone who worked on the event - from our 30 inspiring local trainees who played a pivotal role in helping to pull Tall Ships into the county, to local event organisers, planners and volunteers - should be immensely proud of the result.

“They have helped lay a strong foundation for further Tall Ships visits in successive years, and have showcased Orkney and our island culture to the world in true style. Some ships have already indicated an interest in coming back to Orkney independently,” Mr Hagan said.

Auno is the first tall ship to arrive at Lerwick harbour.Meanwhile, the first of the tall ships due in Lerwick for Thursday arrived on Tuesday lunchtime and berthed at the Albert Dock next to the Lerwick Port Authority building.

The almost 70 year-old Auno is a traditionally rigged sailing vessel, with cabins and lounges and has five crew and five sail trainees on board.

Harbourmaster Captain Calum Grains said:  "It is great to see the realisation of many months of planning for the tall ships fleet.  It will be a busy few days with arrivals but we are all ready for them and looking forward to welcoming the international crews to Lerwick."

Two more tall ships, the Urania and Wyvern Av Aalesund arrived at Lerwick harbour during the afternoon.

Scalloway, meanwhile welcomed the German schooner Esprit at around 6pm on Monday night, and a second tall ship, the A-Class Eendracht arrived on Tuesday midday.

Unst currently plays host to three vessels, Shetland’s own Swan, the Alba Endeavour and B-Class vessel Moosk.

Six Tall Ships are currently in Fair Isle including Zenobe Gramme, The Rupel, Miles to Go, Jens Krough, Wyvern and the Sorlandet which is at anchor.

The striking German Class A ship Alexander Von Humbolt is anchored off Whalsay, with crew hoping to get ashore tonight on smaller boats.

Scalloway doctors to appeal pharmacy decision

A DECISION by NHS Shetland not to allow the Scalloway doctors to set up their own pharmacy in the village will be appealed.

On Tuesday, Shetland health board announced that its pharmacy practices committee had declined an application by doctors Paul and Phillipa Veenhuizen of MelbyHealth Limited.

Earlier this year, the same committee had granted a provisional licence to NorsePharm Limited to open a pharmacy in the village.

The company has until the end of August to progress their application, i.e. secure premises in the village.

NorsePharm and MelbyHealth’s application had gone in to the health board at about the same time last year, but despite a vigorous campaign by the local community to have both applications heard at the same time, NHS Shetland insisted that legally that was not possible.

On Tuesday, Dr Paul Veenhuizen said that he and his wife now had no choice but to appeal the decision of the pharmacy practices committee.

“It is very disappointing, but I don’t think this is the end of it. The ball is back in the court of NorsePharm, because they are running out of time and have to act now. The whole process is dragging on, but we certainly will appeal this decision,” he said.

Operating pharmacies has become a profitable business once again as people are increasingly encouraged go to their local pharmacist with minor ailments.

Shetland Pharmacy Practices Committee also approved two further applications for pharmacies, one in Brae and the other in Levenwick.

Delting Pharm Ltd (Dr Paul Scott) plans to open a pharmacy within the Brae Health Centre, while LP Health Ltd (Dr Mark Maudsley and Dr Aileen Brown) have been given approval to do the same at the Levenwick Health Centre.

Both applications were considered “necessary and desirable in order to secure adequate provision of pharmaceutical services”, the committee said.

Shetland Bus kayakers turn back

THE three kayakers attempting to recreate the epic journeys of the Shetland Bus have been forced to turn back, around 25 miles east of Skerries.

Patrick Winterton, Olli Hicks and Mick Berwick had set off from Lunna on Sunday to make the 240 mile journey to Bergen.

They turned back on Tuesday morning and arrived at Symbister, in Whalsay, later in the afternoon.

Mr Winterton said conditions in the northern North Sea had been more challenging than expected.

“Yesterday the weather was better than predicted, last night and this morning the weather was a lot worse than predicted.

“Paddling into heavy seas you make very little progress, and you get absolutely no sleep whatsoever, which means it is impossible to go on a three or four paddle stretch with no sleep.

“Turning back was the sensible and safe decision rather than one of backing out,” he said.

Shetland Bus kayakers reach Skerries

Setting off from Lunna on Sunday morning ar (from left to right): Patrick Winterton, Olli Hicks and Mick Berwick - Photo: Hans J MarterTHE THREE adventurers attempting to paddle across the North Sea in their sea kayaks have safely reached the Out Skerries after a tough six and a half hours journey.

Patrick Winterton, Mick Berwick and Olli Hicks set off in appalling weather conditions from Lunna on Sunday morning after a visit to Lunna House, a former base of the Shetland Bus.

They had arrived in Shetland on Saturday morning on the NorthLink ferry, visited the new Scalloway Museum and later embarked on the first leg of their journey from Lerwick to Lunna.

The trio said they were inspired by the bravery of the men serving in the Shetland Bus who had crossed the North Sea in small fishing boats supporting the resistance against Nazi occupation of Norway.

Olli Hicks, who had crossed the Atlantic in a rowing boat in 2005, said the trio was prepared for an uncomfortable journey.

“To the untrained eye the kayaks we use look vulnerable and flimsy, but actually they are pretty sturdy. The main survival feature lies in the fact that you can roll them over, and it is quite easy to get them back up again without swimming.

“We can carry all we need in the hatches, and we have enough food, water and communication equipment to last us for what we hope will be a less than four day crossing.

“The difficulty of being in these boats is that you are very limited in moving around. You are effectively tied to the cockpit.”

Mr Winterton, a former member of the British Olympic winter team added that the northern North Sea was one of the most treacherous and unpredictable waters one could navigate.

He added: “The big problem we are going to have is that you are soaking wet through. Five minutes after you have stopped paddling you are freezing.

“You have to stop, get some reasonable dry clothes on and then get into the insulation bag. That’s how we survive. It is all about being organised. And I am afraid we have not quite achieved that yet.

“It is not a nice prospect, but we know from past trips that it can be done, and the satisfaction when you get to the other end is immense.”

They expect to arrive in Bergen on Thursday. Their progress can be followed at: www.kayaksonshetlandbus.com/Pages/tracking.html

Steve Irwin prevented from leaving Lerwick

Sea Shepherd president Paul Watson: 'Expect the unexpected' - Photo: Malcolm Younger, Millgaet MediaTHE CAMPAIGN against the annual slaughter of around 1,000 pilot whales in Faroe has suffered a first set back on Friday afternoon when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship Steve Irwin was served with a court order.

The vessel will now stay at the Morrison Dock, in Lerwick, until at least Monday for the group’s lawyers to negotiate bail conditions.

Founder and president of the radical environmentalist organisation, Paul Watson, said on Friday that the warrant had been served at 4.30pm, too late for their legal team to respond before the weekend.

The Steve Irwin with around 40 campaigners on board was due to leave Lerwick on Saturday morning. A second Sea Shepherd vessel, the MV Brigitte Bardot, is scheduled to leave at around 10am and will head for Faroese territorial waters.

Mr Watson said the legal action was brought by a large Maltese bluefin tuna fisheries company the group had confronted in the Mediterranean.

He said: “The company sues us because we cut their nets last year. We are confident that we will win the court case, but in the meantime we have to put a bond up.

“You have to expect the unexpected. We will solve this one – I am confident about that. Meanwhile we will carry on with the Brigitte Bardot.”

John and Mike on strike

BBC Radio Shetland staff Mike Grundon and John Johnston were joined on the picket line by local Unison chairman Brian Smith - Photo: Hans J MarterLOCAL radio station BBC Radio Shetland was off air on Friday as staff at Pitt Lane joined a 24-hour strike in protest at compulsory redundancies being made at the national broadcaster.

The walkout, called for by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), is over compulsory redundancies at BBC World service and BBC Monitoring, services that are being slashed as a result of the freeze in the licence fee.

The NUJ argues that staff should not be made redundant but offered other employment opportunities within the organisation.

The NUJ’s father of the chapel for Aberdeen, Dundee, Orkney and Shetland, Colin Wight said:

“We regret having to take this action and not providing the usual services for viewers and listeners. We feel we have no choice but to oppose the compulsory redundancies proposed by the BBC.

“The NUJ is opposed to any compulsory redundancies and believes the BBC has not fully explored alternatives such as retraining and redeploying staff.

“There are hundreds of staff members in the BBC who volunteered to leave, and we believe through negotiation we can find a way forward.”

In Shetland, NUJ members John Johnston and Mike Grundon were joined on the picket line by the chairman of the local Unison branch, Brian Smith. BBC Radio Orkney, meanwhile, was on air.

Josie promises strong decision making

The SIC's political leader Josie Simpson.SHETLAND Islands Council leader Josie Simpson has promised a new culture of strong decision making at the authority that is facing huge cuts in staff and services.

His comments came after an exercise to plan for a better Shetland over the next two decades revealed that the greatest concern islanders had was the quality of decision making.

The council has hired Strathclyde Business School’s professor of management, Peter McKiernan, to lead a “scenario planning” exercise to help prepare for the future.

Professor McKiernan has a lengthy pedigree in such work, having helped multinational companies, countries, local authorities and even individuals look at what lies ahead.

In Shetland he led a major consultation that involved more than 700 people, including 450 who took part in an electronic survey.

“They (the consultees) profiled decision making as one of the most important drivers for the future of Shetland, making good decisions that are future proofed,” Prof McKiernan said.

“There is a growing acceptance that the decision making process they have at present could be improved.”

He said one person had compared present day Shetland to the 1970s “when there were some very sharp councillors who made some great deals for Shetland”. That person had hoped the scenario planning exercise could be “a catalyst for change”.

Perhaps the best outcome of the exercise would be “a vastly improved decision making process”, the professor said. This should involve a number of steps including clarity about the issue, consulting well, good debate and sticking to the decision once it was made.

Mr Simpson said that he believed the changes in the council’s governance introduced under chief executive Alistair Buchan would make a difference.

“The council will be able to make decisions fast and the most important thing is that we stick to our decisions because too much in the past you make a decision one week and reverse it the week after. It’s something we have to address and we are addressing it,” he said.

However when pressed about what examples he could give of the benefits of change at the council, he said they had to a better job of communicating the positive side of the authority.

“I don’t accept that we have not made good decisions. I think our problem is that we have not held fast to the decisions we have made. I think once you step back you weaken your case and I think we are guilty of that.

“I was in the fishing industry and I had to make tough decisions, and sometimes I only had seconds to make them. I think there’s a lot of people in Shetland who are very capable of making tough decisions.

“I can’t live with failure. If you were a failure you went out of business and this is not in my book.”

The council has set up a steering group to drive the scenario planning exercise forward, with representatives from the public and private sector.

Last month the group spent one week drawing up four scenarios that were dramatised by local drama teacher Izzy Swanson with a 10 strong cast from four separate local theatre groups during a session before 83 invited guests at Shetland Hotel.

The scenarios represented the consequences after 20 years of strong and weak decision making in the face of healthy and poor economic circumstances.

One showed a strong economy, but bad decisions, had left the islands controlled by private companies from outside Shetland, with people having to make a 50 mile round trip for a pint of milk, and a definite underclass developing.

In scenario two four students communicated on the Shetlink forum from a university campus on Unst using dialect recognition software. There was a growing population and community funds and a very healthy renewables, fishing and aquaculture sector worth £1 billion.

Poor decisions in a weak economic climate were illustrated by a group of students returning home to work in a restaurant, cynical about a council that shied away from big challenges over renewables – “they put all there eggs in one basket and then dropped the basket”.

However strong decisions made in tough times reflected a lively social scene - with Fiddlers Bid making a comeback concert - as an example of people making the best of times, looking after each other.

All four scenarios stressed Shetland’s community spirit, which shone through every element of the consultation, Professor McKiernan said. It was also apparent the importance placed on renewables for salvaging the economy.

One group of migrant workers had said:  “This is the safest and friendliest place we have ever lived. People cross the street to come and talk to you here, but where’s the Starbucks?”

The council is now refining the scenarios even further and will be delivering a more public version in the next few weeks.

Professor McKiernan said scenario planning was very effective and could be polished up over time to reflect changing circumstances.

Reserve League results

Shetland Chiropractic Reserve League results from Wednesday night:

Celtic B 2 – 3 Spurs B
Sean Maver hit twice and a Thomas Sinclair goal gave Spurs the win over their town rivals. Colin Grant hit a brace for the Hoops.

Mossbank 2 – 5 Whalsay B
A comfortable win for the isles team. Scorers not reported but Mossbank’s came from John Hutchison and Mark Smith.

Ness Utd B 4 – 3 Thistle B
A dramatic game as Ness got their winner in the final minute. A Martin Henderson double plus goals from Alwyn Flaws and Kevin Manson did the damage. Jon Pulley, Nethan Watson and Bradley Mackenzie had seen the game level before the winner.

Whitedale 5 – 2 Scalloway
Jamie Wilson (2), Jon Moncrieff, Haldane Fraser and Ryan Joswik keep Whitedale top of the league. Marvin Inkster and Gary Burns got consolations for the Village side.

Yell 3 – 0 Delting
Yell get their first points of the season thanks to goals from Brian Henderson, Karl Smiles and Brian Spence.

 

Paddling in the wake of the Shetland Bus

From left to right: Olly Hicks, Patrick Winterton and Mick Berwick.THREE British adventurers are to set off from Shetland in their kayaks in a bid to recreate the daring journeys of Norwegian resistance fighters during World War II.

Thousands of Norwegians were able to flee their German occupied homeland thanks to the brave men of the Shetland Bus, who also landed supplies and saboteurs into quiet fjords under the cover of darkness.

Now sportsmen Patrick Winterton, aged 49, from Stirling, Mick Berwick, 52, from Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham; and Olly Hicks, 30, from London, said they were so inspired by the actions of these heroic seafarers that they wanted to follow their route across the North Sea to mark the 70th anniversary of the Shetland Bus.

They also hope to raise more than £15,000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Make a Wish Foundation.

Mr Winterton, a sports broadcaster and former member of the British winter Olympic team, said the trio felt well prepared for the 240 mile trip which starts from Lerwick on Saturday.

They plan first to row to Lunna House, in the north mainland of the isles, where the Shetland Bus was based between 1941 and 1943 before being moved to Scalloway.

Patrick Winterton: 'it has to be more than a physical challenge'.After an overnight stay the three kayakers will cross to Out Skerries, Shetland’s most easterly island group, from where they will set off on their 84 hour journey once the weather permits.

All three have ample experience in such adventures and know only all too well that their attempt to reach the Norwegian coast without a support vessel might fail.

Mr Winterton said: “We are top of the game in this very small world and it is nice to test your limits.”

The journey is expected to take at least four days and three nights, with the team expecting to land in Bergen on 19 July.

Each team member has prepared a standard single sea kayak carrying enough supplies of food and water for seven days along with satellite phones, satellite trackers, GPS, EPIRB, and flares.

Throughout the crossing sat-phone contact will be made with base every six hours to pin point their position.

The team expects to get between two to four hours rest in each 24 hour period. The best way to stay warm at night is to paddle, but it is also the easiest way to get seasick.

Some of the conditions the kayakers might have to face.Insulated cockpits, Blizzard Survival heat packs and Reed kayak tents will keep the paddlers warm while they sleep.

Mr Winterton said: “My philosophy is that there has to be more than a physical challenge. None of us has any relation with those involved in the Shetland Bus, but it is such a fantastic story of survival.

“We are so impressed by what these fishermen managed to do, surviving the North Sea in winter time and again while their vessels were shot to pieces.

“We are taking a little bit of inspiration from these guys. When you read stories like that you then believe in yourself, and you believe what you are trying to do is possible,” he said.

“We do this a safely as we can, it is not a foolhardy expedition, we know what we are doing and it will be gratifying to achieve it. However, there is absolutely no guarantee that we get there – about 60 per cent of what we do succeeds, but 40 per cent of our expeditions fail.”

Their journey can be followed at http://www.kayaksonshetlandbus.com/ from where there is a link to donate.

Shetland Coastguard station saved

SHETLAND coastguard station will be retained on a 24 hour basis alongside those in Stornoway and Aberdeen, the UK government announced on Thursday.

The change of heart comes after a seven month long campaign from irate islanders who argued that reducing the coastguard capabilities in the northern and western isles would be an irresponsible and dangerous act.

In brief for 13 July 2010

Shaw joins schools commission

Emily Shaw - one of the Shetland members of the Scottish Youth Parliament.SHETLAND MSYP Emily Shaw has been selected to be the Scottish Youth Parliament's representative on the newly established Commission on Rural Education.

The commission was set up after education secretary Michael Russell called for a one year moratorium on rural school closures to allow national policy to be reviewed, as a result of which the Olnafirth closure consultation has been postponed.

Most of the members, including Shetland’s National Parent’s Forum representative Bob Cree-Hay, were appointed last week with two spaces left.

On Wednesday, Ms Shaw said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be asked to represent the Scottish Youth Parliament on the Commission on Rural Education. It is a huge honour for both myself and the SYP.

“It's fantastic to see the views of young people, who are affected by the provision of rural education, being considered and I look forward to the months ahead."

 

BP Schools Link awards

TWO Shetland schools have won more than £25,000 in funding from the BP Schools Link award scheme.

Lerwick’s Anderson High School and the primary school department of the Scalloway Junior High School were both recognised for projects with significant student input that link sport with the education process.

The Anderson High School received £17,900 for a project called learning through Gymnastics, while Scalloway Junior High entered Wir no’ fat tammie noories, for which they received £7,700 in funding.

 

Wristband reminder

AS THE final countdown for the largest international festival in Shetland in over a decade begins, organisers of the Tall Ships Races have confirmed that 56 ships from 12 countries will sail into Shetland next week.

Highlights for the event include over 100 local music performances, family fun zones, a spectacular fireworks display, an international crew parade and welcoming ceremony as well as the much anticipated headline concerts from The Levellers and Bjorn Again.

Ticket holders for these two concerts are asked to remember exchanging their tickets for wristbands prior to the gigs.

Wristbands will be available for collection from the Event Information Point at Victoria Pier between Tuesday and Thursday, and from Holmsgarth on Friday and Saturday.

Wristbands must be worn for entry to the two concerts at Holmsgarth and gates for the event open at 6.30pm on both evenings for wristband holders only.

 

Free car seat safety checks

SHETLAND Islands Council is offering parents, grandparents and carers the opportunity to have their child’s car seat checked at two free car seat clinics.

They are on Monday 18 July in the Tesco car park from 11.00 to 15.00 and on Tuesday 19 July in the Co-op car park from 11.00 to 15.00.

The council’s road safety officer Elaine Skinley said: “Recent figures show a fall in child passenger casualties which is encouraging. However, we are still seeing children who are either not wearing a seatbelt or are in unsuitable or incorrectly fitted car seats.

“Folk can come along to one of the clinics and have their car seats checked by myself and our car seat expert.

“We will check the seat and straps and make sure that it is fitted correctly and give some practical advice to keep your children safe whilst on the move.”

Sea Shepherd founder due in Shetland

Captain Paul WatsonFOUNDER of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Captain Paul Watson, arrives in Shetland on Friday to head the campaign to stop the annual slaughter of around 1,000 pilot whales in Faroe this summer.

The 60 year old Canadian campaign veteran will take the helm of the organisation’s 59 metre flagship vessel Steve Irwin - previously known locally as the Scottish fisheries protection vessel Westra - which berthed at Lerwick’s Holmsgarth pier on Tuesday afternoon.

The ship, with around 50 crew from 18 countries, will leave Lerwick at the weekend to spend three months filming and actively preventing the Faroese from carrying out their ritual killing of pilot whales.

They will be joined by the “fast interceptor vessel” Brigitte Bardot, of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, who are supporting the campaign called Operation Ferocious Isles.
Sea Shepherd flagship vessel Steve Irwin in Lerwick harbour.Sea Shepherd now star in a TV series called Whale Wars on the Animal Planet channel, which broadcast their successful campaign against the Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean earlier this year.

Captain Watson said he hoped exposure of the “Grind” in Faroe would have a similar impact, though the Faroese have said that they will not kill any whales while they are there.

Sea Shepherd has been in Faroe before but has not actively campaigned in the islands since 2000. Last year they sent a covert team to film the pilot whale slaughter and published the pictures on their website at www.seashepherd.org.

As well as a helicopter, which will be used to film the campaigners in action, they have acoustic devices on board to create a “wall of sound” to scare the whales away from the shore and the death that awaits them.

Captain Watson is also working on a political campaign against Denmark, which supports Faroe despite being a member of the European Union that has signed a convention against the killing of whales.

Speaking from the International Whaling Commission meeting in Jersey this week, he said: “Faroe is receiving EU subsidy through Denmark and yet they are breaching EU rules on whaling. I would love nothing better than to get Denmark involved and intervene so that we can bring a case against them.”

He added that Faroe had passed a law that could send anyone who interfered with the whaling to prison for three months, saying he had plenty of volunteers willing to go through that experience.

“We have grown stronger every year and there is growing financial support every year and we have a membership from all over the world. This year we were even stronger than the Japanese,” he said.

While in Lerwick, Sea Shepherd members are arranging tours of the Steve Irwin every afternoon between 1pm and 4.30pm.

Ship manager Josh Trenter said they had received a warm welcome in Shetland and had received help from a number of local people with transport and provisions for their volunteer crew. 

The ship was built by Hall, Russell & Company in Aberdeen in 1975 as the fisheries protection vessel Westra, but was decommissioned in 2003. The Sea Shepherd society bought her in 2005 and renamed her Robert Hunter in honour of one of the founding members of Greenpeace 

She was renamed after Steve Irwin, the Australian wildlife broadcaster known as “The Crocodile Hunter” after he was killed by a stingray barb while filming in 2006.

The last three times Sea Shepherd has patrolled Faroe waters to prevent the whale slaughter, no whales have been killed.

The organisation says that the whale slaughter has turned into a bloody ritual that serves no other purpose, with 90 per cent of the whale carcasses being dumped in an underwater grave.

CFP reform does not go far enough

THE SCOTTISH government has criticised plans to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) published by the European Commission on Wednesday.

The EC said that under a “radical approach to fisheries management in Europe” both fish stocks and fishermen's livelihoods should be secured for the future, while at the same time putting an end to overfishing and depletion of fish stocks.

Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said the plans did not go nearly far enough, and some were “ill-fitting” for the mixed fisheries of the Scottish fleet.

However he welcomed the clearer emphasis on conservation and the commitment to tackle “the scandal of discards”.

Under the proposals announced by fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki, all fish stocks in European waters will have to be brought back to sustainable levels by 2015.

"This means that we have to manage each stock wisely, harvesting what we can but keeping the stock healthy and productive for the future. This will bring us higher catches, a sound environment and a secure seafood supply.

“If we get this reform right, fishermen and coastal communities will be better off in the long run. And all Europeans will have a wider choice of fresh fish, both wild and farm produced,” she said.

Mr Lochhead said: "I'm pleased that the meaningful conservation of stocks is set to be at the heart of a reformed CFP, with the ecological and economic madness of the discarding of marketable fish – currently enforced on our fishermen by the CFP – to be addressed.

“I am concerned, however, that a one-step move to a blanket ban on discards could prove counter-productive. Instead, we should be working with fishermen on practical measures that would stop these discarded fish being caught in the first place.”

The European Commission's CFP proposals and other supporting documents can be accessed at: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/reform/

 

BP and Shell extend life of Schiehallion

The new Schiehallion FPSO due to be in place within five years

OIL GIANTS BP and Shell are to invest £3 billion redeveloping the Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields west of Shetland to extend production beyond 2035.

The fields have produced nearly 400 million barrels of oil since production started in 1998 and an estimated 450 million barrels are still accessible.

At present oil from Schiehallion is taken to Sullom Voe oil terminal by shuttle tanker, however the contract runs out next year and there are no guarantees it will be renewed.

The £3 billion investment, described as the Quad204 redevelopment, will see the existing Schiehallion floating, production, storage and offloading (FSPO) vessel replaced by 2015, with production due to commence the following year.

Shetland Islands Council harbour master Captain Roger Moore welcomed the decision, saying he was pleased the oil industry was continuing to develop the west of Shetland.

“It is good news that BP and its partners are investing in the west of Shetland and we hope to ensure continued business with them,” he said.

The council’s political leader, Josie Simpson, added that the local authority needed to continue working on streamlining harbour operation to keep costs down and remain competitive.

However deploying a new FSPO will mean that production will have to cease for about a year during which the harbour and Sullom Voe terminal will inevitably suffer a downturn in business.

BP currently has a two year rolling contract with the terminal to take Schiehallion oil into Sullom Voe. The contract is due for renewal next year and there is no indication as to BP’s plans once the new FSPO is in operation.

Some industry observers speculate that BP might consider taking the oil straight to market bypassing Sullom Voe altogether, while others believe taking the oil by shuttle tanker to the terminal continues to be the safest and most cost effective method.

The new vessel will be 270 metres long, 52 metres wide and able to process and export up to 130,000 barrels a day of oil, with storage in excess of one million barrels.

There will also be a major investment in the upgrading and replacement of the subsea facilities to enable the full development of the reserves, BP said on Wednesday morning.

Trevor Garlick, regional president for BP’s North Sea business, said the investment decision was an important milestone.

“The Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields are established assets with a strong future – and we and our co-venturers are taking some significant steps to maximise the greater potential we now see in these fields.”

BP said it had developed a strong track record west of Shetland over the past two decades and would use the latest technology to maximise recovery from these fields.

Bob Dudley, group chief executive of BP, added: “This decision is another example of BP’s strategy to deliver long-term value growth through investing in the large fields and in key basins where it has extensive knowledge.

“BP has over 40 years experience in the North Sea, during which time it has developed a strong set of assets. We are committed to growing and maintaining a material, high quality business there for the long term.”

BP will have a 36.per cent ownership interest in the new FPSO, with other interests as follows: Shell (36.3 per cent); Hess Ltd (12.9 per cent); Statoil (UK) Ltd (4.8 per cent); OMV (UK) Ltd. (4.84 per cent) and Murphy Petroleum (4.84 per cent).

Survey to improve transport on Bressay

A SURVEY of Bressay residents begins this week to help develop a sustainable transport system for the island, which could be rolled out across Shetland.

Ferry users will be asked to share their travel habits with James Dunne who has been employed by the Carbon Reduction Shetland project to carry out the survey over the next two months.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the Bressay community, the impacts of climate change and fuel costs make sustainable travel an ever more appealing option,” Mr Dunne said. 

“The transport needs on Bressay are reflected in other Shetland communities and we hope the findings from this survey can be applied to other areas.

“Ultimately we hope to reduce travel costs, cut carbon emissions and help rural communities become more sustainable.”

Islanders have become increasingly concerned about the high cost of the 10 minute crossing of Bressay Sound after Shetland Islands Council increased ferry fares by 15 per cent earlier this year.

Elaine Park, of Shetland transport partnership ZetTrans, said: “ZetTrans has been working closely with the Bressay community council to address transport issues for residents and the joint survey work with the Shetland Amenity Trust will contribute to our understanding of the community’s needs.”

 

Collapsible mast could herald fishing’s future

Stuart Balfour with his boat Star fitted with the collapsible Balpha Mast. Pic. Pete Bevington

A SHETLAND inventor has revealed the world’s first sail assisted fishing boat developed with keen support from local and national government to help tackle the high cost of fuel plaguing the industry.

Stuart Balfour revealed his Balpha Mast for the first time on Tuesday afternoon at Brae Boating Club, close to his workshop in Sullom where he has been refining the concept since oil prices rocketed in 2008.

Mr Balfour believes his collapsible mast system could revolutionise the fishing and the shipping industry, cutting fuel costs by at least 20 per cent.

With a £22,500 grant from Scottish Enterprise’s innovation fund, he has started small and designed and built the first five meter high prototype mast and fitted it to his 21 foot Star (LK 850), a Shetland model built by the late Walter Duncan, of Burra.

He has also set up a company called Sail Line Fish to take the idea further, selling line caught fish as a high value product to restaurants like Jamie Oliver’s London outlet Fifteen, which has already expressed an interest in his environmentally friendly catch.

Next year he hopes to start a major research and development project to build a 15 metre fishing boat with a 70 square metre sail that can catch two tonnes of fish at a time, which he hopes to complete by 2013. The following year will be spent finding out how to make the boat work commercially, he hopes.

Mr Balfour has been developing his new mast in secret for the past three years after being shocked by the sudden rise in fuel prices and the impact this had on the world economy.

He revealed his new design on the day the finest of the world’s sailing vessels set offon their nine day voyage to Shetland in the Tall Ships Race.The Balpha Mast in full sail
Mr Balfour believes the power of sail has been neglected over the past century due to the ease of using diesel engines, but says those times are coming to an end.

“I realised we were coming to the point where the cost of fuel relative to the profit a business can make is discouraging people from doing things. We need to find a way to lower the cost that’s involved in the fishing industry,” he said.

“The Balpha Mast creates the means to use sail power on board a commercial vessel without using extra crew or restricting its ability to operate, thus lowering fuel consumption.”

Wendy Hanson, of Scottish Enterprise, came to Shetland for the public unveiling. She said the innovation fund smart:Scotland received around 100 applications a year and only about 10 per cent of those came from the highlands and islands.

She said they had been excited by Stuart’s concept and after trawling through the Patents Office had discovered there was nothing of its kind anywhere in the world.
“It’s very unusual to get an application from the fishing sector and you could see a real commercial attraction with this,” Dr Hanson said.

“Nobody else has come up with the idea of a mast system like this. The Scots are known as great inventors and if we can develop this mast system it will be a great accolade for Stuart and for Scotland.”

Explaining the design, Mr Balfour said: “I have both a hydraulic system and a winch driven system, using a hydraulic ram to lower and raise the mast. The mast is within a mast housing with a pivot point and then a trackway for the heel of the mast to run through.

“The system is designed so that the mast moves forward as its lowered as well so you don’t have any mast protruding out of the stern.”

Mr Balfour has set up a website for his new company at www.saillinefish.com designed by NB Communications and assisted by Shetland Islands Council’s economic development unit.

Peeping tom failed to report to police

A PEEPING tom placed on the sex offenders’ register last week after planting a camera inside the communal lavatory at his former place of employment appeared from custody once again at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Robert Leask, of Huxter, on Whalsay, was arrested after he failed to report to the police to have his name added to the sex offenders register within three days of his conviction last Wednesday.

He admitted the new offence in court and sentence was deferred until 27 July for him to be sentenced.

The 49 year old must wait until 24 August to be sentenced for the original crime of secreting a USB camera inside the works toilet at the Blueshell Mussels packing factory in Sparl, Brae to spy on his fellow employees.

A female worker found the camera and handed it to managers who called in the police. Leask was identified on footage adjusting the position of the camera.

 

In brief for 11 July 2011

Coastguard contract

THE UK government has announced that it will be tendering for a five year interim contract to run the coastguard search and rescue helicopter services out of Sumburgh and three other bases in Britain.

The move follows February’s announcement that the previous tendering exercise for a long term contract worth £6 billion had been abandoned due to irregularities that are still being investigated.

During that process, the preferred bidder was due to introduce Sikorsky helicopters such as those used at Sumburgh to all rescue centres, including those run by the Royal Navy and the RAF.

Those military centres will continue to operate as they are for the time being, transport secretary Philip Hammond said.

Meanwhile the government is expected to respond to the consultation on the future of the coastguard service before next Tuesday when Parliament rises. Current proposals to close 10 stations and reduce most of the remaining ones to daylight only are expected to be scrapped.

There have been suggestions that the proposal will be to retain 11 stations, including Lerwick, and maintain them all as 24 hour operations.

They’re off

ALMOST 50 vessels participating in the Tall Ships Race start their nine day cruise from Greenock to Lerwick on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of people greeted the ships in Greenock over the past four days, prior to the “cruise in company” to the northern isles taking in the ports of Campbeltown, Port Ellen, Oban, Ullapool, Stornoway, Kirkwall, Stromness, Fair Isle, Scalloway, Yell, Unst and Whalsay.

The ships are due to arrive for four days of partying in Lerwick on 21 July after covering 484 nautical miles.

Race director Paul Bishop said: “The captains and crews always look forward to the Cruise in Company leg of The Tall Ships Races, and after such a tactical race, I’m sure they will all appreciate a leisurely sail in addition to experiencing a local community welcome from the various harbours involved. More information is at www.tallshipsraceslerwick.com/cruise-in-company

CFP reform

PROPOSALS for reform of the much-maligned Common Fisheries Policy are to be published by Brussels on Wednesday.

The Scottish government and fishing leaders are pressing for more regional control of fisheries and hope to influence change before new rules are imposed in 2013.

Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead described the CFP as “a busted flush” and called for an end to “reckless remote control by Brussels”.

"Our key guiding principle is that much more management of Scotland's vast and rich fisheries should be decided in Scotland, working in partnership with neighbouring maritime nations where required,” he said.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong added: “There is still the real fear that the reform will end up as a wasted opportunity and that would be a tragedy.

“The EC has been making encouraging noises on regional management, but the concern is that the final proposals will not go far enough and will be a halfway house of smudge and comprise.”

 

Downturn puts CAB under pressure

Shetland Charitable Trust has boosted its support for the local Citizens Advice Bureau which is facing a growing demand for its services.

The trust has increased its core funding for CAB’s Lerwick office to almost £150,000 to help pay for an extra welfare rights worker.

2010 was the local bureau’s busiest year during which it helped 245 clients with debts of over £3.2m, helped claimants access an extra £1.5m welfare benefit and doubled the number of employment tribunals it assisted.

Pressure has grown to the point that managers at Market House are now putting clients on a waiting list, and specialist welfare rights advisers are having to focus solely on disability and sickness issues.

CAB provides the islands’ only service offering free, independent, confidential advice on a wide range of welfare issues. This year the trust has increased its core funding from £132,265 to £147,383.

Extra funds come from Shetland Islands Council and the Scottish government for specific services, such as community mediation, family mediation, community care advice and children’s rights, but manager Les Irving says the trust’s contribution is the lifeblood of the organisation.

“The funding from Shetland Charitable Trust is the lifeblood of CAB in Shetland, and last year we used that investment to bring an extra £1.5 million in extra benefits for islanders. And we should remember that every pound that comes in through that door is worth £7 to the local economy,” Mr Irving said.

Today the local office employs ten full time and six part time staff with 35 unpaid volunteers giving up hundreds of hours every year to help.

Requests for help have mushroomed from around 2,200 in 1999 to almost 12,000 ten years later. At the same time the complexity of cases has increased, with staff now regularly helping people through employment and benefit tribunals and bankruptcy.

Now the bureau is gearing itself up for even more pressure on its services with welfare benefit changes and the economic downturn.

Deputy manager Sylvia Jamieson said: “We now have to operate a waiting list for debt clients and benefit clients, and I can’t see that changing. It can only get worse.

“At present our benefit advisers can only deal with ill health and sickness benefit cases, and I think we will see more folk coming through the door.”

As people struggle with money issues, CAB staff witness the knock on effect on their health as they grapple with the stresses around housing, employment and relationship problems caused by their tightening circumstances, all of which can put further pressure on the public purse.

Trust general manager Ann Black said she was only too well aware of the value the bureau’s work.

“These are difficult times for many people and unfortunately Shetland Charitable Trust is not immune from the need to restrict its funding.

“Nevertheless we recognise the enormous importance of the work carried out by the excellent staff and volunteers at CAB, who are helping a growing number of local people who find themselves victims of the current financial situation affecting us all.”

 

Weekend in cells for driving steamroller

A NINETEEN year old man spent the weekend in the cells at Lerwick police station after being caught in charge of a steamroller at work while disqualified from driving.

Steven McPhee, of 59 Burgh Road, Lerwick, was arrested on Friday while driving the steamroller on an unclassified road on the town’s north Gremista industrial estate.

Appearing from custody in private before honorary sheriff Malcolm Bell, McPhee was admonished and had his licence endorsed after admitting the charge.

 

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