Dark cloud over Whalsay (Robert Sandison)
The recent council decision to place Whalsay in a position for consultation on school closure is a sad state of affairs and what is even more tragic is to witness the dramatic effect on island families both young and old.
During the meeting of the Full Council on 20th September, councillors voted 12-7 against a motion by North Isles councillor Steven Coutts to remove Whalsay from the consultation. Their action ensured that the decision to retain Whalsay Junior High School would only be considered after a lengthy consultation and consequently they have placed this whole community in a state of shock.
If the powers that be in the town hall want to empty this island of its young families they have certainly taken the first drastic step. How many young families will opt to settle here in the present climate of uncertainty?
Whalsay must be granted the same equitable right to retain its junior high school as both Yell and Unst without bias or discrimination. These are life-changing decisions and councillors will be affecting the lives of a community, its people and how they develop well into the future.
Whalsay must not be left in a situation where the population have to waste their time and effort in fighting bureaucracy in a long drawn-out and expensive consultation. To suddenly place a dark cloud over the families of Whalsay with the prospect of dismantling a proven educational system which incorporates a value of choice by a system that incorporates the severing of families and family values by a method of bureaucratic force is a negative concept.
It was very disheartening when Mr Coutts did not get the support of his fellow councillors and for the councillors who voted 12-7 against perhaps they may contemplate with some serious soul searching. The totally unfair and discriminatory political decision to consult with regard to Whalsay was a bad decision and I urge councillors to reconsider the Whalsay situation at the next Full Council meeting.