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In brief for 1 September 2011

Van hunt

POLICE in Shetland are looking for the driver of a black transit van which accidentally reversed into a female pedestrian near Lerwick’s Greenfield Square between 1.30 and 2.15pm on Tuesday.

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

Bulk buying fuel

SHETLAND Islands Council is to investigate the bulk buying of fuel to help reduce household energy bills.

Policy officer Emma Perring told councillors on Tuesday that in the Netherlands a scheme had been established where councils had managed to get a 20 per cent reduction on electricity bills for 10,000 households through bulk buying.

SIC leader Josie Simpson said he thought the idea was “very, very worthwhile investigating”, especially with fuel bills in Shetland 15p higher than in Edinburgh.

The council also intends to lobby the Scottish government over Shetland’s problems with fuel poverty, and will write to the Office of Fair Trade about the high price of fuel in the isles.

Radiation warning

THE COUNCIL is to fight plans by Canadian company Bruce Power to ship between 16 and 32 radioactive steam generators through the Fair Isle Channel on their way to Sweden for decommissioning.

The company has already delayed its plans after protests from the indigenous people of Canada, but plans to ship the bus-sized generators after being given a dispensation by the nuclear authorities.

The council will write to governments in Canada, the US, the UK, Iceland, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Sweden in an effort to get the shipment blocked.

The council will use the opportunity to raise its concerns about plans to remove the coastguard’s emergency towing vessels from UK waters.

Hoofields

PLANS to build 20 new council houses at Hoofields have been approved, after plans for a £7.5 million development of 76 houses on the site north of Lerwick collapsed in July due to legal problems.

SIC housing chief Anita Jamieson also intends to investigate ways of attracting more external funding to develop the rest of the Hoofields site, where much of the groundworks have been carried out.

The Scottish government is contributing £600,000 towards the £2 million cost of building the 20 properties.

A working group of staff from the council and Hjaltland Housing Association (HHA) hope to present a range of options for further developing the site so a bid can be made for more government cash next year.

Possible options include serviced sites for sale at subsidised rates to first time buyers, shared ownership options and partnerships with private contractors and HHA.

Roads deteriorating

SHETLAND’S roads are deteriorating due to rising costs and government spending cutbacks, according to the latest road condition report.

Audit Scotland have found that councils overall have 13 per cent less in real terms to spend on road maintenance compared to five years ago.

SIC roads manager Ian Halcrow told councillors that Shetland’s roads were likely to deteriorate more quickly due to their age. He said it would take £2.4 million a year to keep them up to scratch, while the budget was only £1.73 million.

The authority is to look at ways of saving money on the winter service and new capital projects to try and maintain the integrity of the roads.

Council mortgages

THE COUNCIL is to look into ways it can help local people build their own home, after an intervention by North Isles member Laura Baisley at Tuesday’s social services committee meeting.

Her move came as councillors applauded the SIC’s new local housing strategy, and especially its emphasis on building houses outside Lerwick.

Super silent machinery

THIS week French oil company Total were given permission to change the planned route for the export gas pipeline out of Firths Voe for when their gas plant starts producing in 2014.

Shetland Islands Council’s planning board agreed that a new route that involved fewer crossings of the main road south of Mossbank and the existing Brent and Ninian pipelines could proceed.

The company plans to carry out the work before the bird breeding season begins in May and have warned that the final part of the operation will go on 24 hours a day for a short period, though they have promised to use “super silent machinery”.

Integrating SIC and NHS

MOVES to integrate NHS Shetland and the council’s social work department are moving forwards.

The two organisations have agreed to work together to provide a local approach to joint working as a community health partnership (CHP), rather than having one imposed by central government.

SIC social services chairman Cecil Smith said: “I would like to see Shetland have its own model rather than having legislation laid down by Edinburgh.”

Councillor Betty Fullerton stressed that current health services will not be affected by these proposals. “We don’t want people getting worried that maybe services on the mainland will be provided by the council,” she said.

Football results

Shetland Chiropractic Reserve League
Celtic B 1 – 4 Thistle B
Andrew Aitken got Celtic’s goal, but efforts from Calvin Leask (2), a Jon Pulley screamer and solo effort from Thomas Clarke gave the Jags a fine win.

Delting B 3 – 2 Unst
Unst had gone two up at half time thanks to David Thomson and a Delting own goal. However, the Delts came back in the second half and through a Robert Balfour double and Ian Jamieson goal came away with the points.

The Scalloway v Spurs match was cancelled due to waterlogged pitch.

The Whalsay v Yell game was also cancelled.

Arabian opportunities

SHETLAND businesses interested in exporting to the wealthy Middle East nations of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait are invited to a special event in Inverness this month.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise have teamed up with Scottish Development International to run the Smart Exporter event at Eden Court on 13 September.

HIE international development manager Norma MacDonald said: “We’ve assembled a great range of expert advisers, and really hope as many local business people as possible take up this opportunity, whatever industry they come from.”

Colin Crabbe, SDI’s regional manager for the Middle East, added: “There are significant opportunities for Scottish companies in the Middle East. Whilst the rest of the world may still be suffering from the economic downturn there is little evidence of a recession here.”

Bookings can be made online by visiting www.hie.co.uk or calling 01463 244528.

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