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Letters / Whalsay demands disabled public toilets and upgrade to ferry waiting room

Does the Shetland Islands Council’s concern for the safety and well being of disabled people stop at the Laxo and Vidlin ferry terminals?

In a report in the media Steel shortage prompts delay in Whalsay linkspan refurbishment; Shetland News, 25 August 2021) it was stated that “councillor Allison Duncan voiced his concern that waiting rooms and toilets at some of the SIC’s ferry terminals remain unsuitable for disabled people”

Whalsay public toilets.

He could have been describing the Whalsay ferry terminal waiting room and public toilets.

A person in a wheelchair travelling to Whalsay would have to be careful to travel on only one of the ferries to be able to gain full access to its facilities, as they would find on boarding the 39 year old Hendra that there is no disabled access to either the toilets or the passenger saloon.

… with no disabled access to the toilets.

On arrival in Whalsay they would see the public toilets and ferry terminal waiting room, built nearly half a century ago; sitting on a hill overlooking the ferry pier that was appropriated from the fishing harbour.

The partially tarred access road up to the toilets has a large pothole extending nearly right across the tarred part of the road. On reaching the toilets they would find that the toilets have no disabled access to either the male or female toilets.

Disabled access to the ferry terminal waiting room may be possible, but on closer inspection inside we can see that it has paint peeling from the stone and concrete walls and roof with mould of some sort spreading over the surfaces.

It has the worrying appearance of being a possible health hazard, perhaps it should have a sign on the door saying “You enter at your own risk”.

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Ferry waiting room at Symbister.

The issue of the SIC owned public toilets and waiting room has been raised by the community council on numerous occasions but the attached photos taken this past week shows the result, nothing happens; other than the facilities just get worse year by year.

It appears that improvements to these public toilets in this very busy Shetland harbour are for some reason well down the SIC priority list.

The Whalsay Community Council therefore requests that these outdated and inadequate facilities receive immediate refurbishment or replacement to bring them up to the modern day standards of the renewed facilities of other SIC ferry services and terminals.

William Polson
on behalf of Whalsay Community Council

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