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22 new jobs as Whalsay fish factory re-opens

The Whalsay fish factory is to reopen in July as a salmon gutting and packing plant with the creation of 22 full time jobs.

Norpak Island Limited, a company founded by aquaculture pioneers Angus and Ivor Johnson, from Vidlin, will process salmon harvested from cages belonging to the Meridian Salmon Group, in Yell and Unst.

The plant in Whalsay will process up to 50 tonnes of fish a day and will operate in addition to Meridian’s own packing plant in Mid Yell, which is at capacity.

The fish factory at Symbister closed in autumn last year after owner Frank Johnson was unable to source enough salmon at an affordable price.

Shetland Development Trust, as a major investor in the factory, lost several hundred thousands of pounds of public money in the demise.

Norpak said on Thursday they were confident that they would not have similar problems due to their long term contracts with Meridian.

Angus and Ivor Johnson also provide the fish harvesting service to the company. The new operation in Whalsay is seen as an extension to that service.

Farmed salmon is being harvested into wellboats, which will deliver the fish straight to the factory at Symbister harbour.

Norpak managing director David Leask said: “This will create sustainable employment in Whalsay and islanders are keen to see this happening.

“It is a service we provide to the industry. We have a long term contract with the Meridian Group and that is why we are keen to push forward with this.”

Norpak leases the factory from Shetland Leasing and Property Developments (SLAP).

At present there is no public money involved, although Mr Leask said that for future developments the company might consider applying for European funding.

A spokesman for the Meridian Salmon Group said: “We are fully supportive of the Whalsay project with a view that it will create additional employment in the rural areas of Shetland and will be operated in addition to our main processing plant based in Yell.”

Whalsay councillor Josie Simpson said he was delighted to get the factory going again, adding that he was hopeful that the number of people employed could grow even further in the future.

He continued saying that the “excellent news for Whalsay” would add further strain on the already overstretched ferry network, which might result in difficulties for Norpak to ship their product out of the island.

The salmon farming industry is currently going through a buoyant phase with high prices and increasing tonnage from farms in Shetland and Scotland.

Ferry fares are forcing people off the isles

SOME people living on Shetland’s outer isles can no longer afford the ferry fares to and from the mainland, it was claimed on Wednesday.

Bressay and Lerwick north councillor Caroline Miller said the recent 15 per cent hike in ferry fares has forced some islanders to leave their cars on the mainland and travel as foot passengers between their home and work place.

Speaking at the first meeting of the new environment and transport committee, Mrs Miller said she had counted 12 cars from “Bressay folk” on Tuesday night parked on the Lerwick side of the five minute crossing to the island.

A return trip for a car with driver currently costs £9.60 on the ferries between Bressay, Whalsay and Yell and the Shetland mainland.

She said commuting by ferry had become unaffordable. Her comments were echoed by the council’s political leader, Whalsay resident Josie Simpson, who said the fare increase had driven people off the island.

Mrs Miller said:  “We are delivering an unaffordable transport service on ferries. That is not good enough, and we are sitting here strategising.”

She said the local authority was still miles away from coming up with an integrated, effective, affordable and efficient transport system.

Mr Simpson said Whalsay was at breaking point with the current ferries Linga and Hendra unable to deal with the traffic.

Their comments came in response to councillors’ frustration with the snail pace of progress on a “new model for ferry provision”, which they were told would take 18 months to complete.

“We cannot afford the service we have and 18 months is a long time. We will run out of money shortly,” councillor Betty Fullerton said.

Meanwhile the committee was told that prices for marine diesel have risen more sharply than anticipated, leading to an estimated shortfall of around £630,000 for this financial year.

Drink drivers avoid jail

TWO Shetland drivers avoided jail at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday after admitting their second drink driving offence.

However a third man convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol may be locked up if a trial over three other motoring offences goes against him in July.

Last month Sheriff Graeme Napier warned unemployed Marina Sinclair, of 4 Toabsgeo, Virkie, that she was likely to go to prison after pleading guilty to dangerous driving in snow and ice while twice the limit for drink driving last Christmas Eve.

The court heard that Sinclair had drunk a bottle of vodka the night before and only napped lightly on the sofa before heading out in wintry conditions on the main A970 in Dunrossness to deliver Christmas presents.

The 56 year old was arrested after she crashed into an oncoming car four miles into her journey. It was her second drink driving offence.

Defence agent Chris Dowle said she had decided to drive on impulse because she “wasn’t thinking straight” and had not appreciated how bad the conditions were. Sheriff Napier pointed out that police at the time had been warning people to stay at home and only drive if absolutely necessary.

After hearing of her remorse and the loss of up to £2,000 from her car being written off, the sheriff ordered Sinclair to carry out 160 hours community service and placed her under a weekend curfew for the next six months.

She was also banned from driving for five years and told she must re-sit the extended test before she gets her licence back.

Crofter John Wishart, of Kirkabister, Brettabister, North Nesting, was banned for 10 years and ordered to carry out 200 hours voluntary work after he admitted driving while three times the limit at Skellister on 16 April, just four months after a previous driving ban had elapsed.

The sheriff ordered the forfeiture of the 67 year old’s four wheel drive car, saying that it would destroyed unless it could raise more than the administration cost of selling it by public auction or private sale by the court.

Both Sinclair and Wishart were warned that if they breach their orders or are caught driving while disqualified, they will go to jail.

The same fate might befall 37 year old scaffolder Scott McCulloch, of Flat 3, 2 Mill Lane, Lerwick, who pled guilty to driving his works van while three and a half times the limit on various roads in north Lerwick on 10 April, eight months after he got his licence back after a previous ban.

The father of four has pled not guilty to failing to stop after crashing his car into a parked vehicle on Mill Lane on 10 April, failing to report the accident to the police and failing to stop after hitting a fence on the Gremista industrial estate the following day.

A trial has been fixed for 7 July, but Sheriff Napier warned McCulloch that its outcome would “significantly impact” on the way he dealt with the drink driving charge. In the meantime he has been told he must not get behind the wheel of a car.

Ex hall secretary charged over fraud

THE FORMER secretary of Scalloway public hall in Shetland has been charged with fraudulently obtaining more than £8,000 over an eight month period.

Sandra Reynolds, aged 55, of 12 Berry Road, Scalloway has made no plea and the case against her has been continued until 15 June.

She is charged with embezzling £8,268.37 between 3 April 2009 and 7 January 2010 while serving as a trustee of the hall committee.

The charge says that the cash was obtained at Scalloway public hall, Shetland Island Council’s Upper Hillhead offices, the Lerwick branch of the Bank of Scotland, wholesalers JW Grays and Hughson Brothers at Gremista, the Scottish Hydro Electric shop on Lerwick’s Commercial Street and Lerwick based accountants TL Dallas, in Burgh Road.

Butler fined and banned from keeping dogs

A LERWICK woman who allowed her partner’s Staffordshire bull terrier run free and frighten young children in a local playground narrowly avoided a jail sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Keri Butler, of 66 Nederdale, had been looking after the dog while her partner was in prison, when it escaped out of her garden through an open gate into the playground next door.

At an earlier hearing the 31 year old woman, who is out of work and has drug problems, admitted failing to keep the bull terrier under control in the Nederdale area on 20 August last year. She also pled guilty to failing to appear in court on 23 February.

In March the court heard that the dog had jumped and snapped at a five year old boy, and then chased a man back into his own garden when he tried to distract it.

The case had been adjourned for Butler’s psychological condition to be assessed, but on Wednesday Sheriff Graeme Napier said that he had little choice but to send her to prison.

The sheriff said she did not require mental health treatment, but was not considered suitable for community disposals, such as voluntary work. Nor could she be relied on to pay a fine, he said, adding: “She is sentencing herself to custody.”

However defence agent Tommy Allan pleaded that Butler be allowed the opportunity to pay a fine, saying that she had not deliberately left the gate open nor was there any real danger of the dog hurting anyone.

Sheriff Napier fined Butler £900 for the dog offence and a further £500 for failing to turn up in court.

He also barred her from keeping dogs for five years, though she will be able to apply to the court to have that order relaxed after one year.

The sheriff also refrained from ordering the dog to be destroyed after hearing that Butler’s partner had relinquished ownership.

SNP government announces school closure moratorium

TWO TINY primary schools in Shetland could be spared the axe after Scottish education minister Mike Russell announced a one year moratorium on rural school closures.

The news comes as parents from Uyeasound and Burravoe continue with their campaign for the Scottish government to call in last month’s decision by Shetland Islands Council to close the two schools on the islands of Unst and Yell.

The moratorium will impact on the consultation to close Olnafirth primary school, in Voe, which was due to start this August. Head of schools, Helen Budge will recommend to the new education and families committee to postpone the consultation.

Mr Russell said he had asked local authorities not to progress or bring forward any new proposals to close rural schools while a new Commission on Delivery of Rural Education will review current legislation.

The minister said that the delivery of education in rural communities was fundamental to the social and economic make-up of a community, and Scotland had established “a clear legislative presumption against closure”.

He added: “Since the Schools Consultation Act came into force there have been differences in the interpretation of the act.

“I believe that these differences have resulted in the original intentions of the act - that the educational, not financial, benefits should be the main consideration - not always being followed.

"To allow for a comprehensive and fair assessment of the closures process, I have asked for a one year moratorium during which local authorities will not propose rural schools for closure.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott was quick to react to Wednesday’s announcement by saying that the government’s move should also apply to the Uyeasound and Burravoe primary schools, despite the fact the council had already decided on their closures.

“Under the current legislation, the final decision on the schools’ future rests with education minister, Mike Russell. He has yet to decide on local demands that he intervenes and stops these closures.

“Therefore no final decision to close these schools has been taken, but the Education Minister has no excuse now for not calling in these two cases,” he said.

His comments came just one day after he had agreed with parents from both affected schools that he would invite Mr Russell to visit Uyeasound and Burravoe primary schools.

Mr Scott said the communities in the north isles felt very much aggrieved by the decision and were determined to fight for the retention of their schools. “

Irrespective of any new legislation, it would be a very good idea for him to visit both of these schools prior to him making any decision on their future.

“Mike Russell must now call in the Uyeasound and Burravoe decision and if he is consistent, treat these schools, and their parents, pupils and staff, in exactly the same way as any other rural school in Scotland that is threatened by closure,” the LibDem MSP said.

However, in a letter to all councils, Mr Russell made it clear that schools where the consultation process had been completed and HMIe had submitted its own report would not fall under the terms of the moratorium.

Shetland Islands Council’s decision to close Uyeasound and Burravoe primary schools will save the local authority around £200,000 a year from its £42 million education budget.

Parents and their supporters have until 6 June to make representation to Mr Russell after which he has a further three weeks to decide whether or not to call in the council decision.

The government’s moratorium on school closures is proposed to run from 20 June 2011 to 20 June 2012.

Whimbrel hold up Viking decision

The 300 pairs of whimbrel nesting in Shetland form 95 per cent of the UK polulation - Photo: Viking EnergyTHE FATE of one species of rare bird may be all that is holding up a government decision on the proposed £680 million Viking Energy wind farm in Shetland.

Scottish Natural Heritage remain the only statutory consultee that still objects to the huge 127 turbine wind farm being planned on peatland in the islands’ central and north mainland.

The Scottish government is waiting for SNH and Viking Energy to resolve their differences over the fate of the island’s important colony of whimbrel.

Campaigners against the wind farm are hoping the government calls for a public inquiry due to the level of local concern, with 2,700 people lodging objections to the wind farm compared to 1,100 in favour.

However when Shetland Islands Council backed the development against the advice of its planning department last December, councillors removed the only guarantee that a full public inquiry would be held.

While there remain other outstanding objections to the wind farm, notably from the bird charity RSPB, the only one that appears to be enough to delay the project is that from SNH.

The other main statutory consultee is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which has withdrawn its objection as long as certain conditions are adhered to.

SNH has called for Viking to remove 17 turbines from their plans to reduce the visual impact along the Lang Kames, but landscape issues are not governed by legislation in the way that rare birds are.

Whimbrel are a red-listed species, whose 300 pairs in Shetland form 95 per cent of the UK population.

Viking Energy point out that this is a tiny fraction of their numbers in northern Europe that hover between 300,000 and 400,000, though SNH point out that this makes them no less important and that the population is in decline.

Viking Energy project co-ordinator Allan Wishart said the talks about the impact on birds remain the only outstanding issue for the wind farm developers.

Mr Wishart was appointed in July 2009 on a 12 month contract to help the public and organisations like SNH understand what Viking were planning, and almost two years later he believes he will be able to stand down in the next few weeks.

“Two years ago we anticipated that it would be maybe a year to get through the whole procedure, but the way the project was met with objections and comments meant that we had to review the whole of the application and that has taken a lot of extra time,” he said.

“The only statutory authority objecting at the moment is SNH, mainly on the question of whimbrel. We estimate fatalities of 2.1 whimbrel per annum, while 108 whimbrel are killed by predators and natural events every year.”

This month Viking intend to supply new information collected last year which they hope will persuade SNH that their figures are both accurate and acceptable. If not, the government will have to determine the application with all the current objections still outstanding.

A government spokesman said that new energy minister Fergus Ewing was still considering the Viking Energy application.

SNH renewable energy casework adviser Nina Turner said they were working with Viking Energy to try and reduce the wind farm’s impact so the government could determine the application without an objection from them.

Football: Whalsay & Spurs for Madrid final

Madrid Cup semi final results
from Monday night

Whalsay 2 v Delting 1

James Shearer and Ian Simpson got the goals for Whalsay as they try to win their second piece of silverware of the season. Ross Jamieson got the consolation for the away side.

Spurs 1 v Whitedale 0

A James Johnston goal was enough to separate two sides in a scrappy, yet keenly contested match at Seafield.


Fencing: Victory at national level

TWO Shetland fencers Sophie Drosso and Stephen Rocks represented Scotland’s B team in Inverclyde at the weekend and were victorious over Ireland, Combined Service and Scottish Fencing’s President Select.

Drosso came seventh the following day in the foil, while Rocks won the bronze on Sunday, only losing to the eventual winner.

As of 1 May Shetland Fencing Club has three fencers ranked in the British top 50: Sophie Drosso - 42 at foil; Chris Rocks - 30 in epee; and Stephen Rocks - 29 in sabre .


Football: Friday’s results; Madrid Cup semis

G&S Flooring Premier League

Delting 1 v Thistle 1
Ross Jamieson got the Delting’s goal, while David Thomson found the net for the Jags.

Scalloway v Whalsay
Game abandoned due to waterlogged pitch.

Spurs 0 v Celtic 2
Two goals from Lowrie Simpson sealed a fine win for the Hoops.

Whitedale 4 v Ness United 2
Whitedale were 3-0 up at the interval with goals from Paul Molloy, Jamie Wilson and an own goal. Ness scored twice in the second half through Grant Redfern and Richard Sinclair got Whitedale's fourth.

Monday night

Madrid Cup semi finals

 Spurs v Whitedale (Seafield)
Whalsay v Delting (Harbison Park)

6.45pm kick-off.

LibDems mount air discount campaign

NORTHERN isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur are calling on their highlands and islands colleagues in Holyrood to join their demand for a review of government cuts to the air discount scheme (ADS).

There has been an outcry throughout the region since the SNP administration last year withdrew business travel from the 40 per cent discount scheme that was introduced in 2006 by Mr Scott when he was transport minister in the Labour-LibDem coalition.

There is anger the scheme was changed without consultation, hitting business and public sector organisations, including the voluntary sector, hard.

Now Orkney MSP Mr McArthur is upping the pressure on the government to find other ways of saving money by tabling a parliamentary motion calling for the decision to be reviewed.

Critics have commented that while businesses living in the central belt use highly subsidised rail and bus systems, and ferry services to the Scottish isles are supported by the state, business air travellers in remote parts of Scotland are being penalised.

Mr McArthur said the changes had imposed “a considerable financial burden on island life” and forced organisations and business travellers to miss important meetings on the mainland.

“So far my motion has attracted cross-party support, with the exception of the SNP. I hope all those elected to serve highlands and islands constituencies and the region will recognise the importance of persuading the Scottish government to think again,” Mr McArthur said.

Mr Scott added that many people had raised their concerns about the matter. “A review would show just how serious the impact of the cut is for island organisations,” he said.

“I cannot understand how the SNP can justify taking away this badly needed support from islanders in Shetland, Orkney and the western isles. Liam’s motion is just the first of the many ways this issue is going to be raised.”

In January the SNP brought the community of the island of Colonsay into the scheme prior to requesting the European Union to extend it until 2015.


Suspected scrap metal thieves caught

POLICE in Shetland are asking anyone who may have had scrap metal or old batteries lying around at the weekend to check if they are still there after two men were arrested on Sunday for theft.

A report is to be submitted to the procurator fiscal after officers stopped a blue Ford Transit van on Lerwick’s Holmsgarth Road at 6.15pm in which they found a quantity of scrap metal and batteries.

Police are asking anyone who may have sold material to the two men or may be missing metal or batteries to get in touch with Lerwick police station urgently so everything they have recovered can be identified.

In other weekend incidents police are reporting three girls to the Children’s Panel following the theft of clothing from a house in Mossbank over the past two months.

A man has been held in custody over the weekend after being arrested around 11pm on Friday for shouting and swearing at a house in Burra.

In the early hours of Saturday morning a man was issued with a fixed penalty for drinking in public in Lerwick town centre in breach of the local byelaw.

At 9am on Saturday a 50 year old man was detained after a search found him in possession of controlled drugs, with a report to be submitted to the procurator fiscal.

Police are also looking for witnesses who may have seen a car being damaged as it was parked in the Sandveien area of Lerwick.

Over the weekend Shetland coastguard airlifted three men working in the oil industry to hospital in Lerwick.

On Friday night a seaman on board the seismic survey vessel Hugin Explorer working 50 miles north west of Eshaness was suffering heart problems.

A man suffering from kidney stones on board the Alba FSU (floating storage unit) was flown in from 120 miles south east of Sumburgh on Saturday morning.

And on Sunday afternoon a man aboard the Sedco 714 deep water, semi submersible drilling rig 80 miles east of Fetlar had to be taken for medical he was choking on something.

Meanwhile the fire brigade in Sandwick were called out at 10pm on Saturday to extinguish a blazing hydro pole.


Shetland Arts offers up music scholarships

The Harris Playfair Trad Big Band ProjectTWELVE young musicians from Scottish islands are being given the chance to hone their skills with a free scholarship in Shetland this summer.

Shetland Arts Development Agency has been given funding by Scotland’s Islands to pay for a dozen music students to take part two major music events.

Fiddle Frenzy is Shetland’s internationally popular fiddle school featuring a week long programme of tuition from some of the islands’ finest musicians from 7 August.

Alongside the tutorials there will be concerts by the likes of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, dances and other workshops, such as guitar accompaniment, knitting, creative writing and art.

The Harris Playfair Youth Trad Big Band Project runs for one week from 3 August, creating a youth “super group” with some of the best local young musicians and devising big band style arrangements incorporating jazz and traditional Shetland music.

Shetland Arts normally offers two free scholarships to the winners of Shetland’s young fiddler of the year competition, but thanks to the Scottish Islands funding project this year, 10 more places are available to islanders from elsewhere in Scotland.

Scholarships are open to young people aged 14 to 26, with two places reserved for young people from islands within the local authority regions of Highland, North Ayrshire, Argyll & Bute, the Western Isles and Orkney.

The offer includes travel, accommodation, food and entry fees but scholars must stay in Shetland for the full range of events from 3 to 14 August.

Shetland Arts music development officer Bryan Peterson said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young musicians to come to Shetland and immerse themselves in our culture, and share the music of their islands with Shetlanders.”

Anyone wishing to apply should contact Mr Peterson on 01595 743843 or by 27 June.

Guilty of rape

A MARRIED father with two children was convicted of raping a drunk woman in a house in Lerwick at the High Court in Aberdeen on Friday.

Michael Skindzier, aged 26, of 5 Greenfield Place, Lerwick, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on 23 June.

A majority of jurors found Skindzier guilty after a five day trial during which he admitted having sex with the woman in October 2009, but denied rape.


Quoys complete

Grodians, part of the final phase of Quoys, the largest scheme completed by Hjaltland Housing Association. Pic. Billy Fox

HJALTLAND Housing Association has completed its largest ever scheme with 117 houses that extend the town of Lerwick and help to meet the growing demand for social housing in the isles.

The £14.4 million scheme at Quoys has taken seven years to complete over three phases that include 13 sites for private house builders and a new Baptist church.

The building work was carried out by local firm E&H Building Contractors, while the third phase was designed by Lerwick-based Richard Gibson Architects to create a strong sense of community. The first two phases were designed by Dundee architects Baxter, Clark & Paul.

Cutting the ribbon on Quoys Phase Three on Friday: (from left) Drewie Manson - E & H Builders, Adrian Wishart - Richard Gibson Architects, Paul Leask - Hjaltland Housing Association, Bobby Elphinstone - E & H Builders, Jeff Goddard - Hjaltland Housing Association, Bryan Leask - Hjaltland Housing Association. Pic. Billy FoxThe houses and flats are designed for households of up to seven people with a tree planting scheme underway and contract to spruce up the area with Shetland Amenity Trust.

Association property services manager Bryan Leask said they had paid as much attention to the design of the common areas as the buildings, saying they were trying to “build communities rather than housing schemes”, with a mix of private and shared owners, tenants and disabled people.

Mr Leask added that there was no time for them to sit on their laurels. “While it is fantastic to be able to offer those people on the waiting list and those registered as homeless an opportunity of a new home, it is obvious that there is still a large unmet demand that must be tackled.

Former HHA chairman Tom Stove, who cut the first sod at Quoys back in 2003, with Johan Walker, whose family owned the land. Here they set a plant in the scheme's final phase. Pic. Billy Fox“When we advertise properties in Lerwick we regularly have almost 100 applicants put their names forward for consideration.”

Lead architect Adrian Wishart added that he was very pleased with the final design.

“It seems to be working well, with the compact street pattern and varied road colours encouraging pedestrian use of the road as much as vehicles.  It was hoped that it would be an area where folk could mingle and children could play and it appears to be working well,” he said.

The homes are all attached to Lerwick’s district heating scheme, and the housing association has built an extra pump to allow other houses in the Sound area of Lerwick to connect to the scheme.

The association has also bought the former Baptist church in central Lerwick in exchange for building a new kirk in the Quoys scheme, and intend to convert this into flats.

They received £9.2 million from the Scottish government towards the housing project.

In brief for 27 May 2011

Three hospitalised

 THREE people were taken to hospital in Lerwick suffering minor injuries after two cars collided on a single track road south of Levenwick around 10am on Friday morning.

As well as the police and ambulance crews, the fire brigade were called to cut one person free from the wreckage. Police blocked the road to traffic for a short while after the incident.

Scrap metal arrests

 FOUR men have been arrested following the theft of scrap metal from a site in the south end of Lerwick.

Shetland police have sent a report to the procurator fiscal and warned people to beware of anyone trying to sell scrap metal in the islands.

Police are also appealing for information about the theft of fuel from an aquaculture site in Nesting on Wednesday.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Lerwick police station on 01595 692110.

Coastguard come out top

AN INTERNATIONAL survey of public service organisations has shown the UK coastguard has the highest reputation amongst the general public with a rating of more than 95 per cent, compared to an average of 64.2 per cent.

The research, carried out by the Reputation Institute on behalf of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, showed local ambulance and paramedic crews came second with 94 per cent, closely followed by air ambulances with 93 per cent.

Shetland coastguard PCS union representative Bob Skinley said: “We are delighted to see that our service to the public is valued although I note the MCA has made no mention of the results of this survey. Simply put, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!”

Meanwhile Tory MP Sheryll Murray from south east Cornwall is the latest politician to rail against the proposed modernisation of the coastguard service, saying it is pitting one coastguard station against another and endangering lives.

Video chart topper

SHETLAND-based lecturer Simon Clarke has been named the best at delivering video conferencing (VC) classes by his students in the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Voters said that the tutor from Sandwick’s said his mastery of video conferencing made his classes engaging.

One student said: “I have been seriously impressed by his use of VC. This extends beyond technical ability as he manages to engage everyone in his teaching - something that I imagine is not easy when sitting in a room by yourself in Shetland.”

Mr Clarke said he was delighted. “I love the technology and feel it has greatly improved my performance in teaching more generally. I have really fallen on my feet coming to an institution with the most modern equipment and support staff committed to it work reliably.”

Second gold for Hjaltland

FOR THE second year running, Shetland’s largest salmon company scooped the top award in the fish and seafood category of the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards on Thursday night.

Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Ltd was named winner for its gourmet WildWaters range of fresh, smoked and marinated salmon products, which also won the title last year.

The awards ceremony was held at the Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel, in Perthshire, and was hosted by Radio 2 food critic Nigel Barden.

Scotland to police Faroe fishermen

SCOTTISH fisheries protection vessels are being sent into the Atlantic Ocean to make sure Faroese fishermen do not try to catch mackerel in UK waters.

As the battle over the mackerel stock intensifies, Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead told fishermen that monitoring the line between Faroese and Scottish waters was a top priority.

Faroe has courted international trade sanctions by massively increasing its quota for mackerel over the past two years from around 30,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes without agreement from the European Union or Norway.

Speaking during a meeting with the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, Mr Lochhead said there was an urgent need for the EU to apply trade sanctions "without delay" now that the mackerel fishing season was commencing.

“I urge the Commission to act swiftly on this. This needs to happen alongside continuation of talks to put in place a new international agreement for the mackerel stock,” the minister said.

"In the meantime, monitoring the line between Scottish and Faroese waters is vital to safeguard our mackerel stocks, and this has been a key focus of my talks today with the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association.

“In the absence of an access agreement, the Faroese pelagic fleet cannot fish in EU waters and it is important that we do not allow them to plunder our waters as part of their outrageous mackerel grab.”

Mackerel is the most valuable species for the Scottish fishing fleet, which catches about 140,000 tonnes that is worth around £135 million. The Shetland pelagic fleet has a quota to catch around 40,000 tonnes this year.


Consultant to carry on despite misconduct

A SENIOR consultant at Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital is to be allowed to continueDr Ken Graham to practice despite admitting misconduct over the death of an elderly Shetland woman in 2005.

A General Medical Council fitness to practice panel has decided that Dr Ken Graham had expressed “genuine regret” about the death of Eileen Peterson and learned enough lessons to be allowed to carry on working as a consultant physician.

After the determination was announced, Mrs Peterson’s family said Dr Graham and NHS Shetland have a period of “quiet reflection” over the matter.

After four days of evidence and submissions, the panel on Friday told Dr Graham there was “no doubt that the gravity of your misconduct would have resulted in a finding that your fitness to practice was impaired at the time”.

However they said that he had been through “what can only be described as a chastening learning experience” over the ensuing six years, including three inquiries into Mrs Peterson’s death, and had subsequently improved his own and the hospital’s standards of practice.

The 84 year old woman was admitted to Gilbert Bain Hospital on 8 March 2005 with a chest infection and released the following day with a prescription for oral amoxicillin. She died five hours later from pneumonia.the late Eileen Peterson

A fatal accident inquiry in 2006 cleared Dr Graham and NHS Shetland of any responsibility for her death, however in 2009 the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman decided Mrs Peterson had been let down following a two year inquiry. They demanded the health board apologise to the family.

During this week’s fitness to practice hearing in Manchester, Dr Graham admitted that he had failed to provide adequate care for Mrs Peterson during her 24 hours in hospital, and that his discharge notes were inadequate as they failed to mention any chest infection or pneumonia.

However he was cleared of deliberately misleading the fatal accident inquiry when he told Sheriff Principal Sir Stephen Young that he had diagnosed pneumonia and this had been incorrectly recorded in her medical records.

On Friday the panel took account of a “glowing testimonial” for Dr Graham from NHS Shetland’s director of public health Sarah Taylor, along with many positive comments from fellow medical practitioners, notably west side GP Helen Ward.

They also noted that in his role as medical director with NHS Shetland from 2006 to 2010 the consultant had to review and scrutinise complaints against other clinicians, which provided “an opportunity to reflect on your failings and to learn from them”.

Dr Graham told the panel he had made several improvements to clinical systems within the hospital, including ensuring high standards of note keeping, an early medical warning system, reliable discharge letters and fortnightly meetings to analyse critical incidents including deaths on the ward.

“The panel is satisfied that you have demonstrated substantial insight and remedied your clinical failings,” it said in a statement on Friday morning.

“The panel is of the view that these proceedings have had a salutary effect upon you and that it is highly unlikely that you would repeat such behaviour in the future.

“It is clear to the panel that you are a highly regarded physician who has contributed significantly to the development and implementation of clinical standards locally.

“The panel has carefully considered all the evidence placed before it and in the circumstances of your case has determined that allowing you to resume unrestricted practice would not place patients at risk, nor would it damage the public’s confidence in the profession.”

The panel has also decided that there is no need to impose a warning on Dr Graham’s registration as a doctor, saying it would be disproportionate and unnecessary.

Speaking after the determination was announced, Mrs Peterson’s son Michael said: “Contrary to what he claimed at the fatal accident inquiry in 2006, Dr Graham has now admitted that he failed to adequately assess my late mother’s hydration, the nature and extent of her infection and that his decision to continue to treat her with an oral antibiotic and to discharge her were inappropriate.

“The panel has found that his conduct was unacceptable and would be regarded as deplorable by fellow practitioners and I welcome that it has determined that Dr Graham’s conduct was serious and amounted to misconduct.

“This should properly now be a time of quiet reflection for both Dr Graham and the board and at the moment I am anxious that any dialogue should not be conducted through the press.”

In brief for 26 May 2011

SIC reserves down

 COUNCIL spending has outweighed gains made by its fund managers allowing its external investments to fall by £8 million over the past year.

Councillors heard on Thursday that despite a £23 million return on the stock market, the council had drawn an extra £31 million to spend on services and capital projects.

The SIC is currently trying to rein in expenditure as it faces up to “massive financial challenges” forecast by chief executive Alistair Buchan, who is leading an efficiency drive resulting in job losses and service cuts.

Meanwhile the council’s pension fund is in robust health, standing at £251 million after a rise of £29 million from a combination of investments and pension contributions outweighing payments to former employees.

College inspection

SHETLAND College is to remain under the watchful eye of education inspectors for another year after they delivered a generally positive report following a visit in March.

Inspectors gave overall approval for the direction the college is moving in, especially its healthy relationship with the local community and its response to local needs, as well as its range of programmes.

However attainment rates were not as high as they would have liked amongst full time learners and methods of evaluation could be improved, both of which are among the targets the HMIe has set the college for its next visit in 2012.

Fish farms behaving

MARINE planners at Shetland Islands Council have praised the local aquaculture industry for their “positive and co-operative” approach to complying with regulations.

SIC coastal zone manager Martin Holmes said they had just completed their latest round of monitoring the 236 aquaculture sites around Shetland, of which 195 are active.

Mr Holmes said that the number of active mussel farms now exceeds the number of active fin fish farms by 90 to 105.

He said: “We were pleased to find that the number of non-compliance issues relating to equipment and lighting has dropped significantly, from 43 in September 2010 to just 16 in May this year.

“This is a clear indication of the efforts that industry has put into its operational practices and the benefits of having a regular monitoring regime for aquaculture sites in Shetland.”

Witnesses sought

POLICE are looking for witnesses after a disturbance was reported to have taken place inside a taxi at 9.30pm outside the rear reception of the Shetland Hotel.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Lerwick police station on 01595 692110

Scam emails

POLICE are warning people to beware of scam emails purporting to be friends or family needing urgent help after being mugged abroad, after several such messages were received in the islands.

Police said the email recipient is requested to wire a substantial amount of money via a money transfer agent, enabling the suspect to collect this money from any branch in the world, so long as they have the transaction number.

There is often a minor alteration to the email address portraying to be from a genuine organisation or bank, they said.

People are being urged to contact trading standards or the police if they have any suspicions.

Physio award

NHS SHETLAND has awarded its annual quality award to its physiotherapy department for work that saw the board recognised as one of Scotland’s best for assessing lower back pain.

The department carried out a review of its documentation of outpatients with musculoskeletal problems that won it the £500 award.


Consultant cleared of dishonesty

A SENIOR consultant physician has been found not guilty of deliberately misleading a fatal accident inquiry into the death of an elderly Shetland woman six years ago.

A fitness to practice hearing of the General Medical Council is currently considering whether Dr Ken Graham should continue practicing as a consultant physician following the death of  Eileen Peterson on 9 March 2005.

This week Dr Graham admitted failing to provide adequate care when Mrs Peterson was admitted to Gilbert Bain Hospital with a chest infection from the Lerwick care home Taing House where she had lived for four years.

The 84 year old died from pneumonia just five hours after she had been discharged from hospital, even though the hospital discharge note made no mention of any chest infection.

A fatal accident inquiry 15 months later found Dr Graham and NHS Shetland could not be held responsible for Mrs Peterson’s death.

However three years after the inquiry, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman concluded that the hospital had failed the patient on four counts and insisted the health board apologise to the family.

Before the hearing this week, Dr Graham has admitted failing to adequately assess Mrs Peterson’s level of hydration or the nature and extent of her infection.

He also admitted his decision to continue treatment with oral amoxicillin was inappropriate, as was his decision to discharge her from hospital 24 hours after she was admitted.

However the charge that he deliberately misled the fatal accident inquiry by giving evidence that he had diagnosed pneumonia and that this had been incorrectly recorded in her medical records was found not proven.

The hearing accepted that Dr Graham had diagnosed a chest infection, even though this was not recorded in the clinical notes.

The panel noted that the doctor had told Shetland’s procurator fiscal death had been caused by a “chest infection superimposed on dementia and immobility” the day after her death, prior to the results of a post mortem.

They did however decide that the consultant had misled the fatal accident inquiry by failing to draw a distinction between the terms “chest infection” and “pneumonia”, though they accepted that the doctor viewed the two terms as “interchangeable”.

In deciding he had not been acting “dishonestly” at the inquiry, the panel told Dr Graham they “weighed in the balance your previous good character and the positive testimonials from several close professional colleagues who attest to your honesty and good character”.

The panel also found Dr Graham not guilty of failing to communicate with Mrs Peterson’s family or staff at Taing House, as it was not his responsibility to do so but that of the discharge liaison nurse, who told the inquiry she had made an effort to make contact.

Now the panel is inviting the lawyers acting for the GMC and Dr Graham, Craig Sephton QC and Abhijeet Mukherjee, to make further submissions on whether his fitness to practice is impaired by reason of misconduct. A decision is expected by 2 June.

Dr Graham, a kidney specialist, joined NHS Shetland in 1998 and was promoted to medical director in 2006, two months after the outcome of the fatal accident inquiry. He stood down from the post in August last year.

In 2009 it was reported that Dr Graham earned almost £180,000 a year, making him one of the highest paid NHS professionals in Scotland, having received a pay increase of almost £40,000 the previous year.

An NHS Shetland spokeswoman said they would not comment on the fitness to practice hearing until it had been concluded.

Planning round up

Green light for Veensgarth road

THE FIGHT to protect a stand of wych elm trees over 100 years old was lost at Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

Despite 11 letters of objection and a 235 signature petition opposing the axing of the 10 trees and demolition of a small section of 150 year old drystane dyke around C-listed Veensgarth House, in Tingwall, councillors approved plans for a new section of road.

Developer Cecil Eunson applied for the road to be widened to 3.5 metres with a 1.5 metre verge to meet planning conditions to build two new houses in the area.

However councillor Cecil Smith, one of just two who opposed the move, said he thought this was the thin end of the wedge and would lead to more houses being built.

The planning authority has insisted that a full arboricultural method statement and tree protection plan is in place before the new road goes ahead, and any damaged trees are replaced.

Forty houses for Gott

HJALTLAND Housing Association was cleared to go ahead with plans to build 40 houses behind The Strand, in Tingwall, to help meet the growing demand for social housing in the area.

The development marks a breakthrough for the association, which has had two major housing developments in the area blocked in recent years largely due to them being planned on good agricultural land.

The Tingwall development is not without objectors, including the community council and residents in the 15 year old privately-owned Strand estate, which these new properties will match with their pastel coloured timber walls in various hues.

Councillors are keen to see social housing going up on the outskirts of Lerwick where demand is high, and the council itself has pledged to match fund any government investment in the scheme.

However with Hjaltland looking for £3.5 million from Scotland’s £20 million pot for new social housing, questions still remain whether this project will go ahead.

Permission for pipe site

COUNCILLORS granted retrospective permission to oil company Total to create a lay down area for pipes and fittings for their £2.5 billion Laggan-Tormore gas development west of Shetland.

Total’s application involved changing the use of a 250 by 40 strip of concreted land adjacent to Scatsta airport that was previously used for drying peat in the late 1980s.

The company will use the site to store and weld pipes, and have agreed to fence it off to protect the rare birds such as whimbrel and red throated diver, along with the common blue damselfly, that live in the area.

Permission was granted until 2014 when the gas plant and its associated pipeline should be completed and production will have started.

Conservation grant doubled

SHETLAND Islands Council has agreed to double its usual conservation grant to allow menswear shop JR White & Co to re-roof the B-listed 18th century building with original Scotch slate.

The £10,000 grant, twice the normal £5,000 grant, will go towards the £38,380 cost of re-covering the roof, installing roof lights and replacing two sash and case windows.

As a result of the decision the council’s £100,000 conservation grant fund for 2011/12 has just £16,305 left to pay out this financial year.

Football: Whitedale through to Madrid semis

Madrid Cup – Group Two

Scalloway 1 v Whitedale 6

Whitedale progressed to the semi finals after winning the final game of their group, with Jamie Wilson scoring five goals and Peter Drodowski completed the rout. Scott Henderson got the consolation for the village side.

Whitedale will go on to play Spurs for a place in the final.

Manson Cup – Group One

Spurs 3 v 0 Delting 0

 Connel Gresham and a Joe Leask double got the home side off to a flyer in Group One.

Group Two

Whalsay 3 v Ness Utd 0

Ian Simpson, James Shearer and Gary Sandison ensured a comfortable night for the islanders with both teams missing many key players through injury.

Celtic 4 v Thistle 0

The hoops made sure that Thistle are still in search of an elusive win this year through goals from Raymond Aitken, Roy Wood, and a Lowrie Simpson brace.


Hockey: Burra break Whalsay’s perfect record


Zetland 0 v Burra 2

Zetland started the game on the attack, but Burra soon turned the tables and after being awarded a few short corners Stacey Laurenson scored in the 23rd minute.

Zetland kept up the pace in the second half, but shot wide, while Bethany Laurenson put away Burra’s second of the night.

Players of the match were Katyi Jeromson for Burra and Erica Mikolajczak for Zetland.

Juniors 1 v Spurs 3

Juniors took the lead from a Lorrie Robertson ‘cracker’ as both teams set off to a flying start, but it wasn’t long before Spurs hit back with a Sarah Grogan equaliser.
This caught Juniors off balance, allowing Rozanne Georgeson tomake it 2-1 before the half time whistle.

The second half saw plenty of shots at goal, but Spurs gradually gained the upper hand and eventually Gayle Johnson cannoned the ball home for Spurs’ third.

Best players were Megan Nicholson for the Juniors and Gayle Johnson for Spurs.

Whalsay 3 v Burra 3

 Burra took an early lead after a good start with a Stacey Laurenson flick, quickly followed by two more from Kristan Robertson that put them three ahead.

Whalsay took their time to find their form, but Deborah Mowat managed to break through and score before half time.

The bonnie islanders worked hard in the second half allowing midfielder Maggie Kay to slot in their second, and Angelina Jamieson making it three from a rebound off a short corner.

Players of the match were Maggie Kay for Whalsay and Kristan Robertson for Burra.

Delting 4 v Juniors 1

Despite Juniors putting in a strong performance and Delting being down to nine players, the north side went ahead after just two minutes thanks to Donna Murray.

Juniors fought back, but Brenda Leask made it two and Murray made it three before the first half had ended.

Murray got her hat trick from a short corner in the second half, but Juniors kept their head and were rewarded with their only goal from Megan Hibbert.

Players of the match were Clare Stout for Delting and Lorrie Robertson was the star for the Juniors.


P W D L Pts 
Whalsay  6   5  1  0  16
Delting  7  5  0  2  15
Spurs  5  4  0  1  12
Burra  5  2  1  2   7
Zetland  6  1  1  4   4
Juniors  7  1  1  5   4
Scaloway  6  0  0  6   0


Monday  30 May - Rosebowl

6:30pm Whalsay v Spurs (Simon Skinner/Delting rep)
7:50pm Scalloway v Delting (Simon Skinner/Spurs rep)

Thursday 2 June – Lizzie Polson

6.30pm Whalsay v Delting (Simon Skinner/Janice Johnston)
7:50pm Juniors v Burra (Simon Skinner/Janice Johnston)

Fish & Marillion unplugged

Fish will appear in Lerwick on 3 SeptemberFISH, the former lead singer with hugely popular ‘80s rock band Marillion, has added Shetland to his Scottish tour in September.

Together with long term Marillion guitarist Frank Usher – formerly of The Incredible String Band – and keyboard player Foss Patterson, the singer will perform an acoustic set of his own and the band’s back catalogue.

The Shetland date has been set for 3 September at Lerwick’s Sound Hall, where tickets are limited to 230.

However if demand exceeds supply, promoter Davie Gardner says there remains the option to move to a larger venue.

Fish has only recently returned to performing after recovering from a cyst on his vocal chords, since when the trio have garnered critical acclaim touring Europe and Scandinavia.

Marillion enjoyed top 10 success with singles like ‘Kayleigh’, ‘Lavender’ and ‘Incommunicado’ and played stadiums during the height of their career. Fish went solo in 1988, releasing nine studio albums and regular appearances on TV and the cinema.

Tickets, priced £17.50, will go on sale from Lerwick’s High Level Music on Saturday 4 June from 9am. Tickets will also be available through Ticketmaster on 08444 999 990 and

Consultant admits failures over woman’s death

ONE of Scotland’s highest paid doctors has admitted that he failed to provide adequate care to an elderly Shetland woman who died from pneumonia just hours after being discharged from Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital.

Consultant physician Dr Ken Graham is facing a fitness to practice hearing by the General Medical Council into his treatment of 84 year old Eileen Peterson, who died on 9 March 2005.

Amongst the charges, Dr Graham is accused of deliberately misleading a fatal accident inquiry held at Lerwick Sheriff Court just over a year after her death.

In his adjudication in July 2006, Sheriff Principal Sir Stephen Young exonerated Dr Graham, saying NHS Shetland could not be held responsible for Mrs Peterson’s death. The judge went so far as to say that the inquiry had been a waste of taxpayers’ money.

However three years later the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman came to the opposite conclusion, saying the hospital had failed the patient on four counts and insisted the health board apologise to the family.

This week’s hearing in Manchester began on Monday and is scheduled to last until 2 June, when a decision will be made on the doctor’s professional future.

However by Wednesday morning when Dr Graham began his second day in the witness stand, he had already admitted most of the charges against him, including failures in his assessment and treatment of the patient when she was in his care.

The consultant has also admitted that he acted “inappropriately” when he discharged her from Gilbert Bain Hospital to Lerwick’s Taing House care home with a prescription to treat a urinary tract infection with amoxicillin.

Five hours after she returned to the home where she had been staying for four years, Mrs Peterson died from pneumonia. Her family were completely unaware of the seriousness of her condition and were not with her at the time.

Dr Graham has admitted that the clinical note he made about Mrs Peterson’s assessment, examination and treatment were “inadequate”.

But perhaps most seriously, he has admitted that he told the 2006 fatal accident inquiry that he did diagnose pneumonia, but his diagnosis had been “incorrectly recorded” in Mrs Peterson’s medical notes.

Whether this is an admission of dishonesty and a deliberate attempt to mislead Sir Stephen Young has yet to be proven, as has his alleged failure to communicate Mrs Peterson’s condition adequately with both her family and staff at Taing House.

Dr Graham, a kidney specialist, joined NHS Shetland in 1998 and was promoted to medical director in 2006, two months after the outcome of the fatal accident inquiry. He stood down from the post in August last year.

In 2009 it was reported that Dr Graham earned almost £180,000 a year, making him one of the highest paid NHS professionals in Scotland, having received a pay increase of almost £40,000 the previous year.

An NHS Shetland spokeswoman said that it was not appropriate to comment on the fitness to practice hearing until it had been concluded.

The panel, chaired by Professor Brian Gomes da Costa, will decide next week whether Dr Graham’s misconduct is serious enough to impair his fitness to practice.


Garriock Bros - Building Centre