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Transport / Two vessel weekend ferry service for Whalsay on the cards

Islanders want to see the Hendra being re-introduced during the weekend.
The Hendra was removed from the weekend service as part of cutbacks in 2013.

THERE are hopes that Whalsay could be set to enjoy a full weekend ferry service for the first time in years next summer.

The Hendra was removed from the weekend service as part of cutbacks in 2013, leaving one vessel on the route causing frustration in the community.

A petition was handed to the council a few years ago calling for a second vessel to be reinstated at weekends during the summer as a short term measure.

The petition, signed by more than 500 folk, said the service cut left residents “feeling trapped and isolated at the weekend”.

Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s transport committee Ryan Thomson conceded Whalsay had suffered from an “entirely inadequate weekend timetable”.

The North Isles member said the council is also working on removing the maintenance break on the Yell Sound service each Monday.

Thomson is also keen to see an increase in the number of hire runs available to each community council with ferry services from the current four per annum to eight.

“We’ve been working for some time now alongside community councils to rectify the issues on Yell Sound and Whalsay, and we’ve reached a satisfactory position to establish some operational adjustments to accommodate the essential maintenance and drills at alternative times which better fit the demands of the service within current budget constraints,” he explained.

“As a result, Yell Sound Monday – Friday will be indistinguishable, and two vessels will be reintroduced on the Whalsay route, which will finally resolve the issues for what was an entirely inadequate weekend timetable for the Whalsay community.”

Councillor Duncan Anderson, from Whalsay, said it has been a “long standing objective” for the three North Isles members – including Alec Priest – to reverse the service cuts of 2013.

“Increasing the sailings on the Whalsay route at the weekend would certainly be a step in the right direction,” he said.