19th February 2018
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Planning officials criticised by Wills over Bressay pupils’ signs

The council’s planning authority has been accused of standing in the way of a school project aimed at showcasing Bressay’s maritime history.

Primary pupils from the island have been researching different rescues and shipwrecks that have taken place, and have devised a “rescue and wrecks” trail as part of their education.

But councillor Jonathan Wills, who stays in Bressay but is not a member of the SIC planning committee, has criticised the planning department for dithering over proposals for six interpretive signs devised by children.

He told planning committee members at today’s meeting that teachers had been forced to explain to their charges delays in getting up the signs.

Applications were lodged by the school for signboards to be erected at the Bressay Lighthouse and at Cruester, as well as another two at Ward Hill.

However, Dr Wills questioned why plans for the remaining three signs as part of the trail had not yet been considered by members. He insisted the planning authority should have done more to help the process.

“Teachers and pupils have done an excellent job,” he said. “Pupils have spoken to old people about memories of shipwrecks. It is one of the best school projects I have seen.”

Dr Wills was “astonished” by the level of detail required by the school, insisting the project warranted help and assistance from planning rather than barriers which, he said, had been put in place.

He said: “I’d have thought the planning authority would have said ‘what a good idea’. But rather than facilitating the project what we have seen here is tantamount to obstruction.
“Teachers have had to explain why there have been delays. How long is this going to be prolonged?”
Planning official John Holden said the roads service had to take account of issues such as visibility. Any information which may have been forthcoming about the three outstanding signs would have arrived too late to be assessed for the report which had gone to members.
“There are planning rules and regulations we have to follow,” Mr Holden said. “As a planning service we can’t act as an applicant’s agent. We can’t fall foul of the accusation we’re giving favours to one person above another.”

Dr Wills was cut short by chairman Frank Robertson when he attempted to ask whether the time spent on the applicant by staff had exceeded the value of the signs.

“We are not here to debate the planning process,” Mr Robertson insisted, adding other services had to be consulted on whether signs should go up.

Planning member David Sandison offered some sympathy to Dr Wills, however. He said people behind other “good-meaning” projects had become “frustrated” by the bureaucratic process involved.

Fellow member Malcolm Bell echoed what Dr Wills said. He maintained the Bressay signs represented an “excellent project” and moved the recommendation for approval.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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2 comments

  1. Paula Goddard

    Funny how Mr.Wills has such an interest in a school project on his own Island .
    When hes quite happy to vote out other island schools that also have schools that have run excellent projects and recieved accolades for that work year in and year out .

    Reply
  2. Marina Thomason

    I wish Dr Wills would make his mind up. This is what he is reported to have said in the live dabate at the town hall 20th September ” A school with less than 30 pupils does not have a future unless technology can change things, which I don’t think they can”.
    Bressay primary has 10 pupils in primary, 2 in nursery.
    Yet he states of the above project, “It is one of the best school projects I have ever seen.”
    Helen Budge says at the meeting “Single teacher schools do not offer the best opportunities and those are the ones that the SIC is looking at”.
    Anyone who has had any experience of single teacher schools know that they quite often offer unique and rewarding opportunites for children, as Bressay primary has shown with their project. Well done bairns.

    Reply

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