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Letters / Russian roulette

The Whalsay Community Council sent an email last week to the chief executive Maggie Sandison with a request to correct a decision made by the SIC that we think increases the risks for the health and safety of our essential frontline workers all of whom deserve all the support we can give them in these unprecedented times.

The proposals the SIC have presented for Whalsay commuters we think shows a complete lack of consideration for our key workers’ health and safety; this SIC decision is in our opinion, completely irresponsible, not safe and is unworkable.

The Whalsay ferry service is unique in Shetland as there are two mainland terminals it can use, either Laxo or Vidlin dependant on which one is safest to use during adverse weather conditions.

The advice from the SIC that in the event of commuters being delivered to a different terminal than where they left their cars the previous evening, due to the ferry costs; is that our key workers should then enter the confined space of a car, sharing with someone from the Mainland or a ferryman; to be driven to the other terminal to fetch their own cars.

This cannot be maintaining social distancing which is contrary to the advice we hear from both the UK and Scottish Governments every day.

Therefore, we have requested that the SIC allow these key workers to travel free on the ferries so they can maintain social distancing by commuting in their own cars, surely this is not too much to ask in support of this essential workforce to whom we should all owe our full support and gratitude.

Our request so far appears to have been ignored, as we believe our essential workers are still being charged for their ferry connections.

The present crisis requires many sacrifices from us all and this should also apply to the SIC.

The councillors and council officials responsible for this decision are virtually playing Russian roulette with the health, safety and lives of our families and friends who are presently putting their lives at risk for the sake of us all.

Perhaps this is an example of the regard the hierarchy of the SIC has for the safety and wellbeing of their frontline workforce i.e. our ferry crews.

Some of the key worker commuters may be working in very risky environments and may inadvertently pass on an infection to whomever they may be in contact with and vice versa, remember our ferry crews are also essential workers.

There cannot be many commuting key workers travelling on these ferries, so the loss of this fare to the SIC in these troubled times cannot be much in comparison to what could be lost should it result in the continued spread of this highly infectious and often deadly virus.

Ellie Simpson
For Whalsay Community Council