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In brief – 16 February, 2010

More cash for Haiti

MORE money is flowing in to the Shetland effort to help the people of Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake last month.

The local Rotary Club have sent three £475 ShelterBoxes, each containing a tent for ten people, sleeping bags, water purification equipment, a cooker and many other items which are of immediate use to people who have lost everything.

A further two boxes are now being sent with the help of £771 raised from a Christmas present recycling event run by Lerwick’s St Columba’s Church Sunday school, with more on the way thanks to £300 being raised when Rotary Club president Silvija Crook gave a talk at Lerwick’s Bell’s Brae school and an anonymous donor handed in £1,000.

 

Debating duo

TWO pupils from Sandwick junior high school are competing against rivals from 15 other Scottish school in a national debating contest after winning through to the semi finals.

Ceidiog Saxelby and Saibh Finlayson beat students from some of Scotland’s top schools to win in the second round of the Law Society of Scotland's Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament.

There are four semi finals and the winner of each will take part in the final on 17 June.

 

Hjaltland cheque

THE CREW, family and friends of NorthLink ferry Hjaltland handed over a cheque for £714.38 to Bruce Leask, of the Lerwick lifeboat, after raising the money over the festive season.

While the boat was “laid over” for two days at Christmas in Lerwick and in Aberdeen for two days at new year the crew decided to raise some funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

Some 38 crew members and around 20 family and friends raised cash through pub quizzes, raffles and the sale of DVDs showing the participants in fancy dress. The most unusual fund-raiser was the blackjack table run by Hjaltland purser Kasia Stachurska, again with all proceeds going to the RNLI.

Man held on attempted murder

A SHETLAND man is being kept in custody after appearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court for the second time charged with attempted murder.

Jonathan Ladley, aged 36, of 33 Hoofields, first appeared in court last week. Yesterday (Monday) he reappeared in private where he made no plea or declaration and was committed for trial.

Shetland can’t escape sheep tags

ELECTRONIC identification (EID) is coming to Shetland, despite an appeal for a derogation for the isles.

The news came in a letter from rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead to Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who warned that the move could be the death knell for sheep farming in the isles.

Mr Lochhead told the Liberal Democrat leader that there was “no option” for a derogation unless one was obtained directly from the European Commission.

In his letter, he said: “My officials are doing all they can to ensure EID implementation can be achieved in the best possible way for the way the Shetland livestock system operates.”

Mr Scott said he was “deeply disappointed”, adding: “I am very concerned that the minister's reply is now all about implementation of EID which will be impossible for sheep producers in Shetland.

“EID alone will do more to end livestock production in the islands than any other cack-handed measure introduced by any government. EID is a bureaucratic nightmare that will do nothing to protect animal health standards across Scotland. It is a completely pointless exercise that will cost crofters and farmers time and money for nothing.

"The one crumb of comfort is the new European commissioner responsible for this mess. I want Richard Lochhead to jump on the plane to Brussels and make the case for crofters and farmers with the new commissioner. Nothing would be lost by that effort and much could be gained and he would have my support if he is prepared to make that effort.

"Other European countries handle these issues differently. If this was France, the government would have simply said - no we're not doing it. There needs to be more determined government action on this issue in Edinburgh and London."

Damaged wind mast sparks new row

CAMPAIGNERS against plans for Europe’s largest wind farm being built on Shetland have raised concerns after a test mast was discovered to be damaged in the past few days.

A guy rope holding the top of the test mast at South Mid Field, above Tresta, has snapped leaving the mast bent. More than a year ago a similar mast on Shetland toppled over in winds measured at 115mph.

Campaign group Sustainable Shetland say the latest damaged mast raises questions about the approach by wind farm developer Viking Energy towards planning matters, especially as planning consent for their test masts ran out in March 2008.

However Viking Energy yesterday (Monday) said that they inspect their masts on a regular basis and the South Mid Field mast had last been checked on 2 February.

Project co-ordinator Allan Wishart said that within one hour of becoming aware of the damage they had sent workmen to the site to carry out temporary repairs, and informed the suppliers who were “on their way” to replace the damaged section.

“We are erecting warning signs in the area and would ask that anyone who might be walking around South Mid Field to exercise care and avoid the site until the repairs have been made,” Mr Wishart said.

He added that he wished Sustainable Shetland had raised the alarm about the damaged mast immediately they found out about it on Friday last week.

“Viking Energy takes the health and safety concerns associated with any part of our development extremely seriously. With that in mind, we are disappointed that Sustainable Shetland has known about this wire failure for at least three days and had not told us about it so we could take appropriate action sooner.

“Whatever our differences, we would hope people would speak to us as soon as they become aware of a problem that might give cause for concern.”

However Sustainable Shetland chairman Billy Fox said the group believed the damage had been caused far earlier and believed the company had simply failed to act.

“Two of our members first noticed something odd about the mast over a week ago and it was only on inspecting it closely last Friday they found the top most guy wire had come away from its mooring foundation.

“That mooring was buried in the snow so we suspect it had been like that for quite some time, and therefore quite reasonably assumed Viking Energy already knew about this. We are surprised to hear that they inspected the mast less than two weeks ago.

“When the Grutifield mast collapsed in October 2008 they did not inform anyone for several days after they were questioned about it,” he said.

The group is currently objecting to five new test masts which Viking Energy wish to erect at Mid Kames; Scar Quilse, in Voe; Scalla Field, Weisdale; and at Runn Hill and Flamister, in Nesting.

Mr Fox said: “We are not impressed with Viking Energy’s record on planning so far. They have not renewed planning permission when it ran out almost two years ago and they have not removed the anchor foundations of the two test masts they have taken away, even though that is a planning condition.”

Shetland Islands Council’s planning board will consider the application for the new test masts in April. Viking Energy have been invited to renew planning consent for the South Mid Field mast.

In brief for 16 February 2010

Bowled over by grant

SHETLAND charity Disability Shetland has secured £3,620 to support two new projects in Unst and Lerwick.

Clients in Unst will get the opportunity to try their hand at bowling and “new age kurling”, while in Lerwick they will be able to go bowling at the Clickimin bowls hall.

The money has come from Comic Relief via the Scottish Community Foundation.

Disability Shetland also actively carries out its own fundraising activities, with its next event a traditional Shetland dance night on 17 April with the Cullivoe Dance Band at Gulberwick Public Hall.

 

Indian dance

THE GROUNDBREAKING Scottish-based Indian classical dance company Dance Ihayami is coming to Shetland to perform at Lerwick Town Hall on 20 March.

The performance will use rhythmic footwork and beautiful hand gestures to explore the power of three - satyam shivam sundaram/creation, sustenance, destruction - and will feature input from local musicians.

The company is looking for anyone aged over 16 who would like to experience Indian dance and perform in the final production. Rehearsals take place every evening from 15 to 20 March, and anyone interested can contact Emily Sharp, of Shetland Arts, on 01595 743843 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01595 745555 priced £8 (£6 concessions).

 

Small Expectations

THE LATEST book by Sandwick teacher Donald Murray will be launched on 26 February at a unique event held simultaneously in Lerwick, Inverness, Stornoway, Kirkwall, Skye and Inverness via the video network of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Small Expectations, published by Two Ravens Press, is Murray’s fourth book. The collection of stories and poems features art work by Douglas Robertson, who will participate in the launch.

The event will include readings in Gaelic, Shetland dialect and Orkney dialect, by writers such as Myles Campbell from Skye, Morag MacInnes from Orkney, John Murray from Lewis and James Sinclair from Lerwick.

The launch will include a performance by Donald Anderson of two songs co-written with Donald S Murray. There will also be Gaelic songs contributed by Ryno Morrison and the renowned traditional Gaelic singer, Mairi Smith.

Inquiry into builders’ death inconclusive

THE CAUSE of a young Shetland builder’s tragic death in March 2007 might never be known despite a ten day fatal accident inquiry, held in between August 2008 and April 2009.

Yesterday (Monday) the family of 26 year old James Thomson said they were “very disappointed” with the outcome, saying that a vital piece of evidence had been lost from the inquiry by the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Thomson, a qualified joiner, died instantly when a container of Evostik foam filler he was holding exploded and struck him in the chest on a building site at Upperton, Levenwick, on 10 March 2007.

In his determination, published this week, Sheriff Graeme Napier said he was "unable to conclude that there is a clear explanation of the circumstances" leading to the accident.

He added that the most likely explanation for the explosion was that the container was exposed “to temperatures well in excess of 50ºC, as there was clear evidence that all 15 containers found at the scene of the accident had been heated up to improve efficiency.

One possible source of that heat could have been a domestic fan heater found at the scene of the accident, but Sheriff Napier found no evidence that it actually was.

However during their initial investigation HSE had not tested the maximum temperature this fan heater could reach, and when the FAI requested further tests to be carried out, the original fan heater could not be found and a replica model had to be used.

The FAI found that there was no blow torch and no hot plate at the building site.

In a statement issued through the family’s lawyer, Mr Thomson’s widow Karen said the inquiry had been a long and difficult process and the family had hoped to get some explanation of the cause of death.

She added: ““We are very disappointed that the HSE inquiry was not as thorough as we had expected.

“Sheriff Napier would have liked them to do further tests but that was not possible because they lost the fan heater which was in the room at the time.

“We take comfort from the Sheriff’s comment that there is no evidence that James was responsible for any contravention of the instructions for using the foam but it is very upsetting that, after all we’ve been through, we will never know what caused the accident.”

In his conclusion, Sheriff Napier said: “Despite extensive investigation by a number of well qualified scientists I regret that at the end of this long and frustrating inquiry I am unable to conclude that there is a clear explanation of the circumstances which led to the over-pressurisation of the canister which I accept was involved in an explosion whereby the top and body separated.

“One of these parts, which on the evidence I consider it most likely to be have been the body section, was propelled into the deceased’s chest with such force that it caused a necessarily fatal injury.

“The most likely explanation for that over-pressurisation is that the canister was heated to a very high temperature. When and how that occurred has not been unascertained.

“I cannot exclude the possibility that the fan heater recovered from the locus was in some way implicated.  The existence of the other popped cans in the vicinity points to some such connection.

“However, I am not satisfied that the evidence is such that it would be safe for me to come to any conclusion as to what that connection was.

“It is, however abundantly clear that no naked flame such as one might expect from a blow torch was involved.”

Sheriff Napier found no defect in the manufacturing or testing process of the canisters containing foam filler.

Tough times ahead for SIC

SCOTLAND’S wealthiest council is being forced to face years of belt tightening to maintain its reserves and absorb cuts in government funding.

Council tax however is likely to stay frozen at 2007 levels as part of the concordat with the SNP government at Holyrood.

Shetland Islands Council tomorrow (Wednesday) is being asked to slash next year’s revenue budget by £16.3 million, through losing staff, reducing grant funding, lowering operating costs and raising more income.

Last month senior councillors and officials identified savings of £11.6 million, but head of finance Graham Johnston has told councillors that a further £6.7 million must be found if the SIC’s funds are to remain healthy.

He has proposed a range of measures including raising the price of school meals, charging pupils for music lessons, hiking ferry fares and cutting staffing levels and overtime.

However he warns that more savings will be needed over the next few years after grim forecasts from Scottish finance secretary John Swinney that support for local government will shrink by three per cent a year for the next six years, a cut of £18 million by 2016 for Shetland.

Government capital funding is looking even worse, with a 40 per cent reduction on the cards for next year.

Mr Johnston said that these government cuts, along with spending pressures, the world-wide financial crisis and “distractions within the council” make this year’s budget setting exercise “more challenging than ever before”.

Adding to the pressure, the eyes of local government watchdog Audit Scotland are trained on the SIC following the difficulties surrounding chief executive Dave Clark, whose departure is currently being negotiated after just eight months in the post. This will put councillors under “exceptional external scrutiny”, according to the finance chief.

The major problems facing the council’s overstretched budget include the cost of introducing single status, which has risen from a projected £4 million to £5.3 million.

Community care is £4.1 million over budget; the school service is over by £1.2 million; children’s services by £1.1 million and transport by £500,000.

Proposed savings include a 15 pence increase in school meals (yielding £20,000); charging £160 a year for music lessons (£130,000); charging £2.70 for meals on wheels (£6,000); and increasing fares by five per cent (£74,000).

Savings of £1.5 million could be made by scrapping 10 per cent of the council’s vacant posts, £240,000 by cutting overtime by 10 per cent and £370,000 by reducing the travel and subsistence budget by 10 per cent.

Other proposals include a three per cent cut in discretionary grants and in maintenance budgets, replacing the essential car users allowance with a standard mileage rate, and introducing efficiency measures.

In his report to today’s full council meeting, Mr Johnston said: “As much as possible has been done to minimise the effects of these proposals, but there can be no doubt that there will be some adverse effect on services, service users, employees and the wider Shetland economy.

“The scale of the problem makes it impossible to maintain the council’s sustainable financial policy framework without having these adverse effects to some degree.”

He added that implementing these measures would be “very challenging” and would require “resolve and close collaboration between councillors and corporate managers”.

He added: “Members should be in no doubt that the implementation of many of the measures referred to above will have a significant impact on staffing levels (there is no possibility of achieving the savings required without such impacts).

“For the moment it is envisaged that the results will be achieved by not recruiting into vacant posts, but that is something which will have to be carefully monitored and controlled during 2010/11, requiring the vigilant engagement of corporate management and councillors, either through the proposed finance committee and/or full council.”

By freezing council tax the SIC will benefit from an extra £256,000 as it has for the past three years, which is the equivalent of an increase of 3.2 per cent.

Next year Mr Johnston says the council is likely to be looking for savings of £7.815 million, going up to £8.906 million in 2012/13. By that time the council should have reduced its draw on the reserve fund from £2 million to zero.

“If the current service growth trends are not addressed then the ability to fund future capital programmes from our reserves will be jeopardised,” he said.

Forward planning will be a priority to meet the “known and agreed future expenditure growth”, especially in community care.

“Given the council’s aspirations to meet those demands as fully as possible, there will have to be real progress on substantially cutting expenditure elsewhere, which strongly implies the need to secure savings from the Education Blueprint exercise (to mention only one highly salient and significant area),” Mr Johnston said.

In brief – 15 February, 2010

Scamnesty

THE FIGHT against scam mail coming through people’s letterboxes has come to Shetland with the arrival of “Scamnesty” bins.

The bins are being placed in shops and public buildings the length and breadth of the isles, including the outer islands. By dropping scam mailings in the bins, people can help local trading standards officers with future investigations.

It is estimated one in 15 adults fall victim to post, phone or email scams that cost consumers £3.5 billion every year.

The top five mass-marketed scam mailings in the UK last year were: deceptive sweepstakes; misleading prize draws; fake clairvoyants/psychics; bogus foreign lotteries; and ‘miracle’ health cure.

 

Library vans at Staney Hill

SHETLAND Library launched a new service on Friday when the mobile library called at Staney Hill hall between 2pm and 3pm.

Regular Friday sessions will take place from now on, after requests from the North Staney Hill Community Association.

 

WorldSkills

YOUNG Shetlanders aged from 16 to 23 who are in vocational education, training or work are being encouraged to sign up for the WorldSkills UK competition and represent the country on the world stage.

WorldSkills is the biggest skills contest in the world with more than 40 categories from bricklaying to beauty therapy. Last year Scotland brought home four medals in painting and decoraryin, restaurant service, electrical installation and mechanical engineering CAD.

Anyone interested in finding out more can visit www.worldskillsuk.org/scotland and www.worldskillslondon2011.com

 

Truck driver dies on Unst

SHETLAND police and the Health and Safety Executive are carrying out an investigation after a man died on Saturday morning while he was unloading a truck on the Shetland island of Unst.

The man, who worked for Robert Henderson haulage contractors, was offloading a delivery at the Unst Shellfish mussel factory, at Ordale, Baltasound, using a forklift when he died.

The police have not named the man, who is understood to have recently moved to Unst with his young family. They said there were no suspicious circumstances and a report is to be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Dead truck driver named

POLICE have named the man who died while he was delivering a forklift to a mussel factory on the Shetland island of Unst on Saturday morning.

Geoffrey Davies, aged 57, worked for Robert Henderson haulage contractors and had only moved to Unst last year with his young family.

Mr Davies was unloading the forklift at the Ordale factory belonging to Unst Shellfish when he died. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

A team of police investigators from Inverness arrived in Shetland today (Monday) and they will be joined tomorrow by officers from the Health and safety Executive

40 kids evacuated after fire at school

MORE than 40 primary children had to be evacuated from a school in Shetland this morning (Monday) after a fire broke out in the roof above the gym hall.

The children and nine staff left Hamnavoe school shortly after 9am while fire officers from Lerwick, Scalloway and Sandwick raced to the scene.

The pupils were all taken to the local community hall while their parents were informed and came to collect them.

A spokesman for Shetland Islands Council’s schools service said that the 41 children would be bussed to Whiteness primary school tomorrow, where they would be educated for the foreseeable future.

No cause of the fire has yet been given, but local people were saying that it appeared to have been started by an electrical fault in the roof above the gym hall.

SIC education improvement officer Jerry Edwards said he had not heard of anyone seeing flames, but there had been large amounts of smoke coming out of the building.

The fire brigade reported the fire had been extinguished shortly after midday and investigators have gone in to have a look.

Head teacher Tina Johnston said the evacuation had gone very smoothly. “Everyone worked together and was very calm. There was no hysteria. It was a good operation.”

In brief – 12 February 2010

Big savings at the trust

SHETLAND Charitable Trust has implemented more than £2 million of savings in its budget for 2010/11 which was approved by trustees yesterday (Thursday).

The trust annual revenue budget has been reduced by 16.6 per cent from £12.36 million to £10.3 million.

The savings include the changes to the Christmas bonus scheme, reductions in grant payments to the arts, recreation and amenity trusts, as well care charges.

Trust financial controller Jeff Goddard said further savings will have to be identified over coming years.

Trustees also agreed to continue with the work to review funded bodies in a bid to make further saving to the trust’s expenditure.

 

No biscuits for trustees

FUTURE meetings of Shetland Charitable Trust will again be held in the council chamber after trustees heard that this would be the most cost effective option.

Previously, trustees had moved from Lerwick Town Hall to the Clickimin Centre in a bid to demonstrate its independence from the council, but found the acoustics in the gym hall not to be up to the job.

A report yesterday (Thursday) told trustees that they could hold their regular meetings in the town hall for £77.25 per meeting or opt for the Islesburgh community centre where room 16 would cost them £94.

In a closely fought contest the town hall option, proposed by Betty Fullerton, won by 11 votes to nine against Islesburgh, put forward by Laura Baisley.

Mrs Baisley had argued that Islesburgh was less crowded and, importantly, also served biscuits with the coffee.

Dear Councillors

We would like to express our disappointment at the decision taken by the infrastructure committee on the 2nd February regarding the transport link to Whalsay.

We, as Community Councillors, have been inundated with phone calls, emails and letters from very aggrieved members of the public. A large number of people in this community desperately want their views put forward to council members. about the way they feel they have been treated throughout this whole consultation process.

The majority of these communications are conveying their dismay because the final consultation session was clearly concluded by Gordon Greenhill stating that the consultation period was over. A decision would now have to be made due to the frailty of existing infrastructure.

At the same meeting it was stated that tunnels were NOT on the agenda and were not to be discussed at the tables in the hall.

Thereafter there was a belief among the general public that a definite decision would be taken on the 2nd February as to where the ferry terminal would be sited.

However, irrespective of what was said at the final consultation meeting in December, it appears that, the lobbying never stopped. A very small group of the community have continued to pursue their goal of not having the terminal sited in the North Voe. Regardless of the overwhelming support for the North Voe option which is the most favoured option of the Infrastructure Service Report by Michael Craigie.

We the Whalsay Community Council, regardless of personal opinion, must represent and back the wishes of the majority on this island. We would be failing in our duty not to do so. The outrage, unhappiness and sense of betrayal felt when the outcome of the meeting, 2nd Feb, was heard cannot be underestimated. Only five councillors stood by the wishes of this community, respecting both the report from infrastructure services and unarguable majority view of the public from both consultations. The decision taken at the Infrastructure Committee meeting has made the consultation process farcical

At this stage to allow another option to be thrown in for consideration was truly disappointing. It is yet further prevarication on the part of the council.

If there is any sincere desire to resolve this ongoing saga and restore faith in the council members, it is essential we have assurance that when investigations into the viability of the tunnel are completed, a conclusive decision will be made between the North Voe and tunnel option.

We urge you to support the majority views and do not allow further obstructions to hinder progress on this.

Yours sincerely

WHALSAY COMMUNITY COUNCIL

Chairman:

David Hughson

Carrick Knowe

Huxter

Whalsay

Shetland Isles

ZE2 9AH

Tel: 01806 566 234

 

Clerk:

Kathleen Jamieson

Lochview

Vatshoull

Whalsay

Shetland Isles

ZE2 9AN

Tel: 01806 566 676

 

If council members wish to view the letters received by Whalsay Community Council please contact clerk Kathleen Jamieson.

Scalloway man went berserk

A SHETLAND man who went on the rampage with a hockey stick, assaulting a young woman and leaving a man in hospital, must wait one month to be sentenced at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Alan Devine, of 15 Undirhoul, Scalloway, admitted three charges of assault on 19 September last year, when he appeared yesterday (Wednesday).

The court heard that the 46 year old father was drunk and angry when he confronted a group of friends as they came out of a pub on Scalloway’s Main Street.

Efforts to calm him down only seemed to make him worse, and he punched his male victim in the head knocking him to the ground.

After being restrained Devine ran away, only to go home and arm himself with a hockey stick.

When he returned to confront the youngsters once again, the young woman approached him to protect her friends, but he knocked her to the ground and struck her on the hand with the hockey stick.

One of her friends managed to grab the hockey stick off Devine and threw it into a nearby bush, but he retrieved it and when the group of friends reassembled further down the street he attacked the man he had punched earlier.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said he ran towards the man and without any warning hit him on the head with the stick, knocking him to the ground where he used the weapon to repeatedly hit him on the head and body.

Mr Mackenzie said: “At this point he was shouting: ‘No one fucks with big Al. I will fucking kill you.’”

The police were called and an ambulance took the hurt man to Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries to his head.

When police interviewed Devine the following evening he told them he could not remember anything about what had happened as he had been so drunk. “He can’t offer any explanation for his actions,” Mr Mackenzie said.

Sheriff Graeme Napier deferred sentence for four weeks to allow background reports to be compiled.

Drugs search

POLICE are waiting for the results of a drug test after seizing a suspected package during a raid on a house in Lerwick.

Eight officers supported by one sniffer dog searched the house in Commercial Road, on Monday afternoon.

A police spokesman said that they had been acting on intelligence received. There were no arrests.

Government bends after fuel debate

THE UK government is to carry out a thorough examination of how reduced rates of fuel duty operate in European island communities.

The move comes following a 90 minute debate on high fuel prices in Scotland's rural and island communities.

The debate was secured by Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, who has been campaigning against the high petrol and diesel prices in the isles since he was elected to parliament nine years ago.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Mr Carmichael said the announcement that a "proper examination" was to be carried out by officers was a first step in the right direction.

Mr Carmichael has pointed out for many years that other EU member states successfully operate discounts on fuel duty for their island communities.

The MP said: "Treasury ministers in the UK have always claimed that a reduced rate of fuel duty could not be made to work in the UK, this is the first time that they have ever been prepared to look at how other countries manage to do what they seem to find so difficult.

"We are far from getting what we need and want on this important issue but it is a significant and important piece of progress."

SIC appoints capital programme chief

SHETLAND Islands Council has appointed a new head of capital programming to help the oil rich authority manage its ambitious spending plans.

Robert Sinclair, who currently works in the SIC’s capital programmes service, has been involved in a variety of major council building projects in the past six years, including Uyeasound pier, Sumburgh airport’s runway extension and the controversial plans for a new Anderson High School, in Lerwick.

The post was initially suggested by SIC chief executive Dave Clark shortly after he joined the council in June last year, but it took until December to agree the move after it became entangled with concerns about the treatment of assistant chief executive Willie Shannon.

Mr Shannon had taken on the job of managing the capital programme as part of his overall remit, but when Mr Clark decided to create the new post he also “deleted” Mr Shannon’s job without proper consultation, sparking a furore in the town hall.

SIC convener Sandy Cluness welcomed the appointment, saying Mr Sinclair had beaten a number of “very high calibre applicants”.

Mr Cluness said: “I am pleased that we’ve filled this important role. The experience Robert brings of large-scale capital project management in Shetland will equip him well to deliver on his very challenging brief.”

Mr Sinclair, who starts work next week, will be responsible for developing a five year capital programme, embedding a new “gateway” system for prioritising projects and improving the purchasing process to get better value for money.

He is to report directly to the chief executive, however Mr Clark is currently on leave while councillors decide how best to end their working relationship with him.

Third time lucky naming Hildasay

NORTHLINK's new cargo boat Hildasay was named by Shetland school girl Sophie Wishart during a ceremony at Lerwick harbour, on Wednesday morning.

The 122 metre vessel, formerly the Shields, is to replace the shipping company's previous freighter Hascaosay, which is being sold on to Saudi Arabia.

Twelve year old Sophie, from Cunningsburgh, won the NorthLink competition to name the vessel.

The company had received 183 entries from around the world, with 20 people coming up with the name of the small island to the west of Shetland mainland.

A large crowd of invited guests including members of this year's Viking jarl squad gathered at the quayside to watch the event.

Yesterday Sophie took centre stage when she joined NorthLink managing director Bill Davidson, Lerwick minister Rev Gordon Oliver and the master of the Hildasay, Victor Suhareus, at the bow of the vessel to perform the naming ceremony.

She confidently spoke the traditional words 'I name this ship Hildasay. May God bless her and all who sail on her' and then tried to break the bottle of champagne over her bow.

When the bottle failed to break after several attempts, Mr Davidson opened the bottle for Sophie to pour the champagne over the bow.

Afterwards, and after some cheerful singing from the isles' own Vikings, Sophie also unveiled a commemorative plaque.

The 10 year old Hildasay, on charter from Seatruck Ferries of Heysham, is able to carry up to 68 trailers and promises to deliver a more reliable service to ship goods in and out of the isles.

Mr Davidson said it was quite a challenge to find the right vessel to suit the specific needs of the Shetland to Aberdeen service.

"We need a vessel that will fit into the ports of Lerwick and Aberdeen, has enough freight capacity and is fast enough to meet the needs of the market.

"Because we are dealing with a lot of fresh produce here, we can't leave until teatime and we have to  be in Aberdeen the next morning at breakfast time to allow the products to get on to market. So in terms of types of ships there are not that many available

"Hildasay will give us more capacity compared to Hascosay. Demand for us to ship freight is going up and up, and at peak time we did not have enough capacity with Hascosay.

"Also Hascosay is now 39 years old and it has taken a lot of effort from the crew to keep that vessel operational. The new vessel is only 10 years old, so it will be much easier to keep a reliable service going."

Meanwhile Sophie was delighted with her involvement today, which also gave her a day off from school.

She said she had chosen the name Hildasay because it fitted in with NorthLink's other vessels, Hamnavoe, Hjaltland and Hrossey, which all began with an 'H'.

"It means a lot to me to name the boat because you don't very often get the chance to do that.

"Initially it was a bit nerve wracking, all the people and being up so high on the vessel. But then it was really exciting, amazing actually," she said.

The Hildasay was expected to sail for Aberdeen later on Wednesday to get some last alterations done before commencing service by the middle of next week.

Her master Victor Saharens said he was convinced that she would perform well on the 200 mile route between Shetland and the Scottish mainland.

Addict faces jail for dealing

A HEROIN addict from Shetland has been warned he is likely to be given a lengthy jail sentence after he admitted supplying the Class A drug, when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday (Wednesday).

David Jamieson Inkster, of 24 Nederdale, Lerwick, was arrested when police searched a house at town’s Nordavatn last September.

They found 32 individual £20 wraps, along with a larger bag containing the drug, bringing the total to 25.5 grammes, with a street value in the isles of £3,570. They also recovered eight mobile phones, electronic scales, a quantity of small plastic bags and £595 in cash, all of which were forfeited.

Yesterday the 35 year old admitted being concerned in the supply of the drug between 1 July and 24 September last year.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said Inkster was “indelibly involved in the drugs culture in Shetland, particularly the heroin culture”.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said that Inkster had become an addict after spending nine months in jail in 1994 and had been battling with his habit ever since.

However since his arrest he had secured funding to go into rehab and Mr Allan asked for sentence to be deferred for that to be fully assessed.

Sheriff Graeme Napier gave Inkster bail and deferred sentence for four weeks for the preparation of background reports and for him to be assessed for a drug treatment and testing order. The sheriff added: “The most likely outcome is that you will be facing a fairly lengthy custodial sentence.”

South mainland men banned and fined

Two Shetland men were banned from driving at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday (Wednesday) after they admitted drink driving.

Fisherman James Peter Reid, aged 34, of 5 Park Wynd, Sandwick, was almost twice the legal limit when he was stopped on his home street on 31 January.

The court heard he had was stopped after leaving the house at 2.30am followingA an argument in the house led to calls to the police.

Sheriff Graeme Napier fined Reid £1,400 and banned him for 42 months after hearing that this was not his first drink driving offence.

He also fined and banned 30 year old joiner Michael Tait, of 6 Midgarth, Cunningsburgh, who was also almost twice the legal limit when he was stopped on the main road in his home village on 23 January.

The father of two had visited a friend after work and then driven home after drinking. He was fined £700 and banned for 21 months.

Three more Whalsay fishermen charged

THREE more fishermen have been charged with fraud in connection with a massive investigation into illegal landings at the Lerwick processing factory Shetland Catch.

The three men, who all work on board the pelagic trawler Serene and live on the island of Whalsay, are 46 year old Robert Polson, 54 year old Thomas Eunson, and 53 year old Allen Anderson.

All three appeared in private at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday morning where they made no plea or declaration and were released on bail.

Ten men have now been charged in the case, which is understood to involve mackerel valued at around £50 million.

The charges follow a lengthy investigation by the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, which resulted in a raid on the Shetland Catch factory in September 2005.

Trust reform delayed until 2012

SHETLAND Charitable Trust this morning (Thursday) rejected proposals to reform itself and voted instead to put off any change to its constitution until after the next local government election, expected in spring of 2012.

The trust has been forced to look at how it is being run after being told by the Scottish charity regulator OSCR that it did not comply with current charity law, and had to demonstrate its independence from Shetland Islands Council.

But trustees, led by council convener Sandy Cluness, were unhappy with the suggestions worked out by a group of seven trustees over the last 12 months, and decided they wanted more time to consult before making a decision.

The trust holds around £200 million of Shetland's oil funds, and supports a wide range of charitable organisations and initiatives. Its board is made up of 21 councillors plus two independent members, the Lord Lieutenant and the head teacher of the Anderson High School.

The meeting kicked off with a short presentation from trust general manager Ann Black who urged trustees to accept the review group's proposals as they were likely to be accepted by OSCR.

Trust chairman Bill Manson added that "no change was not an option" and moved the recommendations from the chair.

Initially it looked as though the proposal to reduce the number of trustees from 23 to 15, comprising of eight councillors and seven additional members selected from the wider community would win the day.

An attempt by Jonathan Wills to change the plan to seven councillors plus eight elected, rather than selected, independent members, was defeated by nine votes to three with nine abstentions.

Dr Wills had argued the reform group's proposal was "contemptuous of the public" as it would reduce accountability from 91 per cent elected members to just 53 per cent.

He also questioned the wisdom behind the decision to exclude the 50 or so responses to the consultation from the public report before trustees yesterday.

Following that debate, Mr Cluness moved to postpone a decision for two years as, in his view, the changes proposed did not represent the view of the community.

He said: "I am not against change. But the review and the consultation you had have not demonstrated to me that the people of Shetland want this.

"The option is not that there will never be change, but the appropriate time would be after 2012."

And he suggested inviting officers from OSCR to a trust meeting to tell them of the unique set up and responsibilities of Shetland Charitable Trust.

His move to delay a decision was supported by those who wanted more radical change, arguing that no decision on the governance would be better than the proposal put forward by the review group.

Conceding defeat, trust chairman Bill Manson said: "What you are saying is that the working group worked for a year and got it wrong, or not right enough."

An attempt by Gary Robinson to get the ball rolling quicker was heavily defeated. He had accused Mr Cluness of "kicking the issue into the long grass", but only got two trustees to support his motion to reduce the consultation period to just three months.

The two hour long debate was witnessed by 13 members of the public, many of whom had submitted their own responses to the consultation process.

After the meeting, Kevin Learmonth of grassroots group Sustainable Shetland, said "the decision not to do anything" would throw the trust into a crisis situation with the regulator.

He added: "It is sad to see that they are prepared to jeopardise the trust to maintain their own power. The status quo is not an option and we want to see proper democratic reform, but they have just decided to ignore that."

MP wins fuel debate in Commons

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has won a 90 minute debate in the House of Commons about the high cost of fuel in the islands.

This morning Mr Carmichael will be questioning the Treasury on their unwillingness to trial a fuel duty rebate system in the northern isles and demand why a derogation on fuel duty similar to those adopted in Europe can be introduced in this country.

Last night the MP said that he expected to speak for at least 20 minutes and to be backed by other members representing remote communities as far away as Cornwall.

He intends to include information from a new study by Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon into the level of derogations which have been applied on the continent.

“One irony is that when France introduced a derogation the UK government voted in favour of it. Their attitude seems to be that what is sensible for remote areas in France is not sensible for this country,” he said.

Mr Carmichael said he “realistic” about his chances of changing the government mindset which has been refusing his calls for the past nine years for action to reduce fuel prices.

“Treasury ministers have failed to engage on this issue for as long as I can remember, but that doesn’t get away from the fact that this is a major hindrance for the Shetland economy.

“I shall keep making the case until they accept it or give us some reasonable explanation as to why they should not.”

Last August Mr Carmichael met Scottish secretary Jim Murphy who appeared to indicate the government were willing to introduce a fuel duty pilot scheme, but later said he had been misrepresented.

Snow and Icescape

A SEASONAL exhibition opens at Weisdale’s Bonhoga Gallery on Saturday when the extraordinary work of Finnish sculptor Timo Jokela goes on display.

Northern Traces shows a decade of work by the native of Lapland and reflects the indigenour Sami culture of the region in his studies in wood, willow, stone, ice, water and snow.

The exhibition documents selected projects and commissions undertaken over the past ten years, with photographs, collages and a large floor sculpture.

They range from monumental sculptures in the Arctic landscape, to fully operational hotels built entirely from snow and ice.

Gallery curator Mary Smith said: “It is inspiring to see snow and ice used in these dramatic works. A snowy landscape is often beautiful, but with the effect snow has on our daily lives it is often viewed in a negative way.”

Jokela will be working with pupils in Shetland schools during next week, which may result in some new phenomena appearing in the islands landscape during his visit.

The exhibition runs until 7 March and all are invited to the preview at 7.30pm on Friday night, which will be attended by the artist and his collaborator Glen Coutts of the University of Strathclyde.

Icing on the folk festival cake

THE ORGANISERS of this year’s Shetland Folk Festival say they have just put the icing on the cake of this year’s 30th anniversary event by booking three additions to the already busy line-up.

On the back of their appearance at this year’s Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Brooklyn-based The Wiyos will make a special one off trip from the US to appear in Shetland.

The Wiyos are said to be  “truly unique”, creating original yet vintage sounding country blues, swing, jugband, hillbilly and ragtime tunes whilst adding the visual element of a vaudeville-style stage show.

Recent winners of the prestigious Scottish Folk Band of the Year award at the Scots Trad Music Awards, Bodega, have also been confirmed.

Shetland’s Ross Couper is on fiddle, joined by prize winning vocalist Norrie McIver from Lewis, multi-instrumentalist Tia Files on guitar, June Naylor on Clarsach and for their trip to Shetland, Lorne MacDougall, one of Scotland’s leading young pipers and finalist in the 2010 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the year.

Meanwhile, fellow finalist Paddy Callaghan has been invited with his band Feolta as this year’s session act.

All three acts will be in Shetland for the festival’s duration, playing at different venues throughout the isles alongside Shetland musicians such as the Sheila Henderson Band, Bryan Gear & Violet Tulloch and Inge Thomson, who is making the trip home with her band to formally launch her debut solo CD “Shipwrecks and Static.”

The first set of tickets will go on sale this Saturday 13 February for the one-off concert by Scotland’s leading children’s entertainers The Singing Kettle.  Priced at £10 for all, they will be available for purchase between 10am and 3pm at the festival office, 5 Burns Lane, Lerwick or by phoning 01595 696349 during those hours.

For all other concerts, advance members will receive the ticket booking form mid March with booking open to all from 2 April.

Further information is at www.shetlandfolkfestival.com