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Council / New strategy wants isles to become most active community in the country

The 60/40 indoor pitch in Lerwick is one place where Shetlanders are getting active.

SHETLAND is set to adopt a new strategy aimed at making the isles the “most active community in Scotland”.

The Active Shetland Strategy, which will run through to 2023, was approved by Shetland Islands Council (SIC) members on Wednesday.

It replaces the existing council policies Shetland Sports Strategy 2012-2017 and the Active Lives Strategy 2012-2022.

The new strategy has been developed by the SIC, NHS Shetland, Shetland Recreational Trust, ZetTrans, sportscotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

It sets out how barriers to participation in physical activity in Shetland can be identified and reduced to ensure more people enjoy the benefits of being active.

Among the aims of the strategy, which was presented by the council’s sport and leisure manager Neil Watt, is to support a bid for Shetland to host the Island Games again in 2027 or soon after.

However, a statistic included in the strategy from 2016/17 which said that over one quarter of Shetland’s primary one children are overweight/obese drew concerns from councillor Davie Sandison.

The national average was 22.9 per cent, with Shetland sitting at 26.1 per cent.

At Wednesday’s full council meeting Lerwick South member Amanda Hawick questioned a ‘risk management’ section of a report on the strategy which said a failure to implement the policy could lead to “major difficulties in the future”, such increased obesity levels and a “decline in Shetland population because of a dissatisfaction with the opportunities available locally”.

Watt reiterated these could be issues in the community if the strategy was not put in place.

“Issues that we are seeking to address would only get worse,” he said.

North Isles member Ryan Thomson, meanwhile, said he believed the ambitions of the strategy were achievable.

“It’s great to see that given the support in infrastructure that we have here and the natural heritage we have in Shetland, it’s brilliant to see that all these partnerships are going to work together,” he said.

When the policy was discussed at the council’s education and families committee on Tuesday, town councillor Beatrice Wishart commented that body confidence issues could be stopping some young females from taking part in activity like PE classes.

Chairman George Smith, meanwhile, later said being active was not just something for younger folk and that the aims of the strategy were for all sections of the community.

Councillor Theo Smith, however, said one problem he had experienced was that doing activity outside is often “curtailed by the weather”.

“So thats my excuse,” he quipped.