18th September 2018
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Review of the Year – May: Commission orders SIC public inquiry

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There was growing anticipation for a showdown at the Town Hall when the Accounts Commission ordered a public hearing be held into the SIC.

The commission reached its decision after a damning report into the local authority by financial watchdog Audit Scotland, which heavily criticised councillors in a 12-page document.

The general election provided the expected result. Incumbent MP Alistair Carmichael retained his seat for the Liberal Democrats, although many were perturbed by the Lib-Dem decision to form a coalition government with the Conservatives. Time will tell if Mr Carmichael will be punished by the electorate for the deal.

Pure Shetland Lamb had still not met the conditions attached to a £450,000 grant from the SIC to upgrade its premises at Boddam.

Talented Francesca Leyland, from Lerwick, prepared to hit the big time as she rehearsed for her part in the West End production of Les Miserables.

After the music came the knitting … It emerged knitting lessons were to cease in Shetland schools after councillors voted to remove the £130,000 annual budget. A last ditch attempt by councillors Florence Grains, Laura Baisley and Rick Nickerson to save knitting from the axe was defeated.

The SIC vowed to ban rowdy troublemakers from the Viking Bus Station for up to six months in a bid to curb anti-social behaviour.

New options for the Anderson High School suggested building the project on the playing fields south of the Clickimin Centre.

There was a significant victory for the council on behalf of the fishing industry in its battle with the European Commission over an attempt to force fishermen to pay back almost £1.5 million-worth of small grants made by the local authority over a 10-year period.

Twenty-six year-old barman Keith Bain became the subject of an arrest warrant in Minnesota after he was accused of child solicitation during an internet affair. His parents, Gilda and Gary Bain, jumped to his defence.

The SIC’s planning department got into bother when it emerged rock for approach roads to the new Total plant was being shipped in from Norway at great expense because of a planning condition.

Whalsay’s fish factory was in danger of closing because of market pressures on salmon products as a result of disease and cold sea temperatures.

The 30th Shetland Folk Festival was judged a resounding success after an impressive line-up kept crowds entertained.

After a three-year gap, a traffic warden was once again patrolling the streets of Lerwick. Angus Meudell’s new job effectively had a twin-purpose. If it wasn’t the traffic he kept running it was the drains. Mr Meudell was also a handyman for the Lerwick station. He has since left his post, however.

The recovery of the world’s financial markets gave Shetland Charitable Trust one of its best years ever, pocketing £50.4 million from stock market investments and £5 million from local assets including rented properties. However the charities regulator OSCR vowed to visit Shetland to monitor the trust’s activities. The trust had resisted pressure from OSCR to loosen its close ties with the SIC.

The dream of cheaper fuel was offered once again when NorthLink held talks with an un-named oil company about bringing petrol and diesel to the isles on one of its freight vessels, although nothing more has been heard of the neg­otiations.

Members of the Northern Con­stabulary Joint Police Board met in Lerwick. Chief among the topics raised was a possible sharing of buildings and other facilities among “blue light services” in rural parts, which could see costs reduced.

The year’s first cruise ship, the National Geographic Explorer, arrived at Lerwick Harbour.

Pupils from Anderson High School gave an account of a visit to New York where they heard from those on the scene during 9/11.

Gary Robinson was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Standards Commission, as was Jonathan Wills.

Uyeasound Primary School, which is facing possible closure, was given an exemplary report following an inspection in March.

North farmer Bryden Nicolson barred all government and Total representatives from the oil giant’s construction site at Sullom Voe. Total had a temporary lease from Mr Nicolson to rent his land to help build a road for its £500 million gas plant. However Mr Nicolson took the stand in protest over £222,000 compensation due from the govern­ment for culling sheep.

Work eventually did begin, with a peat-cutting ceremony performed by Scotland’s only Tory MP, David Mundell.

Alistair Carmichael was appoint­ed as deputy chief whip in the new coalition government.

Residents in Whalsay learned they would have to wait until the end of June before hearing what the council would do about its transport link to Mainland. It was later revealed building a tunnel and doing away with the ferries to the isle could lose the council £2.24 million a year in fares and subsidy.

Comedian Bill Bailey played to a full house at the Clickimin, in a show which featured madcap ramblings about suspicion, celebrity … and barnacles.

Lerwick South councillor Jim Henry was knocked down by a car in Glasgow. Thankfully, he has since recovered and has returned to the Town Hall.

Terry Williamson – the winner of the 2009 Shetland Times/Shetland Recreational Trust fit club – set off on a walk round almost the entire coastline of Shetland to raise funds for mental health charity Mind Your Head.

A ceremony marked the opening of the new emergency landing site at the Clickimin.

The council’s planning depart­ment launched a consultation exercise to gather views on how the isles should develop in the years ahead.

Tributes were paid to long-standing and much respected mus­eum curator Tommy Watt, who died after a long illness.

On the back pages, cyclist Christine McLean won the gold medal in her age category for the third year running in the British 10-Mile Time Trial Champ­ionship.

Celtic and Whalsay set the standard with two impressive Madrid Cup wins each.

Hopes for the women’s football team were dashed when they went 4-1 down to Raith Rovers in the second round of the Unite Scottish Cup.

And there were swimming suc­cesses. Five swimmers from the Lerwick team returned with six gold, 10 silver and seven bronze medals from the Westhill Invitational Meet in Aberdeenshire.

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