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Transport / Tweak to Bressay ferry timetable could make a big difference, community council says

The Bressay ferry Leirna. Photo: Shetland News

BRESSAY residents are hoping that a small change to their ferry timetable could make a big difference.

The community council on the island is keen for the ferry service to Lerwick to begin earlier in the day – 6.30am instead of the current 7am – especially during the week.

Chairman Lindsay Tulloch said this would allow people to catch the first flight to Aberdeen from Sumburgh, offering better access to health appointments south.

He said this would also enable folk on the island to work jobs where there is a 7am start.

Tulloch said that, in effect, Bressay residents are ruled “ineligible” for certain jobs on the Shetland mainland as a result.

“It’s an issue that’s been raised to the community council by the residents for a good while,” he said.

By improving access to employment and healthcare, Tulloch said this should “reduce inequalities”.

The request to explore this change has gone to transport partnership ZetTrans and Shetland Islands Council (SIC).

A meeting of ZetTrans next week will see members recommended to instruct officers to consult with the SIC’s ferry service and environment and transport committee with a view to collecting information on the opportunities and impacts of an earlier start on the Bressay ferry.

If members approve this, the findings could be reported back to the board in late August.

A report to members of ZetTrans said preliminary work has already been undertaken but a formal approach has to be adopted to enable more detailed engagement with ferry crew and their representatives to then establish with more certainty operational and cost details.

Bressay is the shortest trip among the SIC ferry services, taking around seven minutes one way.

Meanwhile Tulloch has welcomed contingency plans which have been put in place by the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Shetland for Bressay next weekend when the ferry will run for foot passengers only while essential linkspan work takes place.

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An ambulance will be located at the pelagic factory where the passenger ferry will be berthing during its reduced timetable.

The vehicle will give the ambulance service staff the ability to head to Bressay as foot passengers and then proceed to any incident.

The ambulance will also be made available to the NHS Shetland member covering the island over the weekend.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will also place a fire appliance at the pelagic factory should there be a need to deploy additional resources to the island.

Elsewhere normal contingency plans are in place for the coastguard and the lifeboat.

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