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Coronavirus / Councillor reports back after second night spent in town centre

A SOUTH mainland councillor said he had nothing but praise for young people and the islands’ police force after he went out for a second weekend to check for himself whether Covid-19 rules were being observed in Lerwick town centre.

Last week, Councillor Allison (Flea) Duncan hit the local headlines when he described many of those gathering at Harrison Square in the early hours of Sunday as “selfish idiots” adding that their behaviour was undermining the safety of the community.

In response, Police Scotland defended its “partnership approach” to engage and educate before using the force of the law to make people abide by the Covid laws.

On Monday Duncan confirmed that he had been out again to follow-up from the previous weekend, adding that had walked through the town after midnight and had hardly “seen a soul”.

He said it appeared obvious that police had changed their tactics: “What was different is that last weekend there were police in cars, this time there were two police officers on foot patrol on the Esplanade, at the Market Cross and in Commercial Street.

“They took up a permanent position at Harrison Square at five to one. There were about ten people who went to the chip shop.

“Police spoke to them; there was no animosity, and when they got their chips they left, and the police went into the chip shop themselves.”

Youth workers from Shetland Islands Council were also out on Saturday night. Photo: Twitter/Martin Summers

Meanwhile, youth workers from Shetland Islands Council were also out on Saturday night to explain the situation and encourage young people to think about their own and the community’s safety with regards to the Covid-19 virus.

The vice-chair of the isles’ community safety and resilience board said the only concerns he continues to have is that hardly anybody was wearing face coverings and social distancing was not observed.

Duncan however disputed last weekend’s statement by Police Scotland that around 40 people had gathered at Harrison Square. He said he was there, and he had counted them twice, and insisted that there had been 74 in the area at the time.

He went on to say: “Credit to the Lerwick police for handling the situation the way they did this weekend; and more so than ever because we now know that there are more cases of Covid-19, three of them in Shetland.

“I think the message has got through to the youth because of the rise in the number of cases. I’ll keep doing what I can to defend the old people here in Shetland; that I feel is absolutely paramount.”

Meanwhile, Duncan said as a result of his ‘hands-on’ approach he has received “quite a number” of calls from people living in the lanes of Lerwick complaining about noise and “what not”.