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Letters / Time for change

I take Vic Thomas’s latest point well (Rabid panic to save money; SN, 22/10/14), and have to say that I’ve also wondered about how things could be fixed up here on Shetland in order to avoid any more expensive ‘mistakes’ being made.

I have a feeling that one effective way to do it might be to encourage everybody to register for postal voting – the ‘grey vote’ in particular – and in doing so, make the election process truly democratic again, by turning the usual dismal and apathetic 32 per cent turnout at election time into a regular version of the 82 per cent turnout that we saw for the Scottish Indpendence Referendum.

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I know from my own experience that it’s enabled me never to miss casting my vote while slashing the costs of doing so, and I am very glad of it.

Postal voting would make it infinitely easier for older people (and for those without transport, and those who work irregular hours at some distance from their home polling station) to make their voices heard at those crucial times – all for the sake of a quick walk to a postbox, or by invoking the Old Pals Act by asking their local postie to take their completed forms back to the Post Office for them the following day.

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If that simple trick helps Shetlanders to mobilise themselves against the ‘usual suspects’ at election time (the way that the whole of Scotland apparently mobilised itself against the ill-conceived recent push for independence), and at the same time counter the ‘youth vote’ that was supposed to tip the scales so heavily in favour of Salmond; and also at the same time possibly oust those people altogether in favour of candidates who actually mean business, things might actually start to improve a bit around these parts. We can only hope.

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One small part of that improvement might be to make our elected representatives do something about disgraceful things that should be within their power to change but patently aren’t – such as the absolutely abysmal quality of ‘broadband’ in outlying places such as Uyeasound.

I’ve lost count of the number of incomers who’ve told me, unprompted and in passing, that if they’d known beforehand just how poor the broadband service was/is up here, that they’d never have bothered to come to live in this place.

As far as I know, the Uyeasound Exchange is the last (and only) Activated exchange of its kind on Shetland that hasn’t undergone transformation to the standard of Gutcher and Baltasound.

It’s almost as if interest was lost in such an upgrade the minute the Gutcher Exchange was fixed a few years ago. If that’s what our elected representatives think about the interests of the people living in this area, then in my honest opinion it’s high time the whole lot of them got kicked out ignominiously and replaced.

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If postal voting helps to achieve that objective, it’ll have been well worth the small amount of effort that it took each individual to set it up. For my own part, and since I can claim the cost of the installation and use of a satellite broadband link against income tax anyway as a business expense, and now that prices of such facilities have come down to parity with ADSL, I shall very soon be sacking my rotten wired connection (at long last), and leave the futile carrot-dangled-over-a-donkey’s-nose debate about ‘provision of fibre-optic on the North Isles’ exactly where it belongs – in a ditch, up to its goggling eyeballs in mucky water.

Having to put up with crippled and useless ‘services’ such as wired ADSL in the North Isles are the true cost of the kind of stupid way that this place seems to have been run for a long time; and it’s now time for a change.

Philip Andrews
Unst.

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