18th February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Video: Schools protest music

A You Tube video protesting proposals for rural school closures, entitled Chasing Cuts, has clocked up over 2,850 hits in less than 24 hours.

The video made by Unst Leisure centre worker Faye Cox stars a mystery singer and music edited by Martin Rich. Mrs Cox said that the professional sounding vocalist, who sings lyrics adapted from Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars single, was “shy” and wanted to remain anonymous.

Made with the help of Unst Action Group and Communities United for Rural Education the video shows pupils and parents from Unst holding home-made placards explaining why they don’t want to leave home and go to school in Lerwick.

Mrs Cox said: “We are hoping this becomes a big viral hit on the internet. We are hoping to get as many people as we can to watch the video and raise awareness of what’s happening in Shetland.”

She added that the idea had come from seeing various challenges on the internet such as the ice bucket challenge. She said that it was important for people outside the islands to learn what was going on here.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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27 comments

  1. Mark Goodhand

    I fully understand the concerns of the rural communities regarding the closure of certain Schools, however, i still think that they are missing the point. we have no money to keep the large amount of schools open. my children live in Unst but most weekends they stay with me in Lerwick. they have the best of both worlds but with one difference, i pay £1400 council tax per year whereupon their Mother only pays £600 because she lives in Unst. i am therefore subsidising Baltasound school to the tune of £800 per year. If the rural communities wish to retain their schools and leisure Centre’s then i do feel that everyone across Shetland should be paying the same amount of Council tax, this would then be fair to all and to all Schools no matter where they are situated. I do not see why a resident in Lerwick is paying double the amount of Council tax to provide to a school with very few pupils, to remain open when the population of where the school is situated, is paying next to nothing with their council tax. I do not wish to see any school closed but the rural communities cannot have everything for nothing, they must come up with a solution and pay a little bit extra to keep their schools open, i.e the extra £800 that i contribute.

    Reply
    • Murray Brown

      Mark is very entitled to his opinions but his council tax sums do not add up my council tax is the same as anyone with the same type of house in Lerwick.
      Council tax banding does not take into account of where we live if it did the isles would be cheaper as all major council ammenities are in Lerwick

      Reply
      • Robert Duncan

        If all council amenities were in Lerwick we would not be having this discussion. As it is, Unst has a very expensive school.

        Council tax is affected by the value of your home, which is relatively lower in Unst than elsewhere. Mark’s comparisons are incredibly over-simplified, however.

      • Christopher Ritch

        Robert, if the proposals to discontinue secondary education at the junior high schools go ahead where are our children going to stay when they attend the AHS? How much will it cost to build another new hostel? How much will it cost to run? What about transport costs? It might be cheaper to provide S1-6 in the isles.

        Getting away from financial costs (it’s illegal to close schools on that basis) and back to what the video is about – do you care about the social cost to rural communities?

      • Johan Adamson

        I dont think unst is a very expensive school. I know the official figures show this but they are incorrect. They are not up to date and do not have the correct pupil numbers

    • Louise Ward

      Mark, I respect your right to an opinion but do think that you slightly miss the point regarding the council tax situation. Council tax is set by the value of your property and not by the location it is in but to act as devils advocate, isles communities do not have access to the facilities that Lerwick folk do, for example we don’t have a resident police officer, very few streetlights and less road miles requiring repair, no Mareel cinema … need I go on? We might have ferry links, which are subsidised, but the rural areas produce beef, lamb, dairy and beer, to name but a few items, so the ferries are of benefit to the economy and well being of Shetland as a whole. Those same ferries are also transport for the over spill of oil workers into rural areas due to the lack of housing in Lerwick, which will become worse if rural schools are closed. So although you state that you feel you are subsidising the rural areas with your “extra £800”, I am sure that there are isles folk that could feel that they are indeed subsidising the extra benefits that Lerwick people receive, only we don’t. Most isles folk see the bigger picture, the need for give and take, we ask only that the misconception of the islands as a drain on the SIC purse be laid to rest and for us to be able to continue to grow our communities and productivity, as bastions of traditional Shetland lives and community and family values

      I am afraid that I can hear the squelching of sour grapes being well & truly trodden on until they become whine (and yes I have spelt that correctly!).

      Reply
  2. Karen Malone

    As far as I’m aware Council Tax doesn’t pay for schools.
    Living in the North Isles we also do not have access to as many facilities as Lerwick residents for example a police presence!
    Therefore I feel the comment regarding subsidising the schools is misinformed.

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth Johnson

    Elizabeth Johnson
    October 7th, 2014 15:05

    Mark I guess you must be feeling very bitter. I also pay Council tax for many things specific to the town which we have a struggle to access due to our location such as roads, streets, street lighting, Islesburgh, Mareel, road sweeping, pavement gritting, council offices etc etc etc. The reason we pay less is because we have less! I do not think it should be a case of setting communities against one another (unless there is a desire to divide and conquer). To the best of my knowledge the people in the outlying affected areas are not generally complaining about what is being funded in the town. That said I do agree that shutting the schools should be the last resort and there has to be some means of finding the savings other than that.

    Reply
  4. Nanning van Mulken

    Looks like you don’t really understand the principle of council tax. Have a look at http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/scotland/tax_s/tax_council_tax_s/council_tax_scotland.htm

    Good luck.

    Reply
  5. Claire Adams

    I think you may need to look at what you pay your council tax for and how it is rated maybe move to a cheaper, smaller house as council tax is based on the size and value of a property. We pay less because our property is valued at less. maybe you could look at the amount of amenities in central Shetland that we and many others pay for that are hard or impossible to access, Or would this mean you would have to open your mind #narrowmindedpeople

    Reply
  6. Kevin Priest

    As an Unst resident I was delighted with Mr Goodhand’s enlightening comments regarding the council tax. I was not aware that there is a flat rate of £600 for Unst residents. The SIC must have me confused with someone from Lerwick all these years as I too pay £1400. After I have written this reply I will be straight onto the council to thank them for this rare act of benevolence and, of course, my refund!

    Reply
  7. John K Smith

    I fully support the fight against SIC threats to close any schools. This music initiative is powerful and demonstrates the feelings of support for the existing structure of rural schools across Shetland.
    Nothing the SIC has proposed is right for Shetland, it is a disaster, cruel to young folk and their families.
    Please support the song and get it across to your councillor, they must get the message somehow.

    Someone mentioned that a councillor had said that if they had the finance then all closure discussion would stop. There are no educational reasons to close any Shetland school, they are all great schools and all are successful. Why not look to finding the finance and stop disguising this as an education debate, it’s not.

    Reply
  8. Mark goodhand

    My comment was a suggestion to keep the schools open, protesting is fine but not a solution, you need financial idea’s

    Reply
    • Yvette carnell

      Mark, we would welcome your help in our campaign and look forward to your input. Please send an email with your contact details to unstactiongroup@gmail.com. Wir bairns, Wir future.

      Reply
  9. Eleanor Black

    Unst folk don’t hang around waiting for someone else to fight on their behalf. They form an amazingly enterprising & strong community. Well done!

    Reply
  10. Hazel Spence

    “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action”. – Johann Wolfgang.

    Maybe the acceptance that you are wrong with your facts, but frightful that many people maybe are as ill-informed as you.

    Reply
  11. Alison Smith

    This letter really disappoints me. Why do you want to further deepen the rural/urban divide in Shetland? School closures affects us all, not just the rural areas. In August this year the SIC held Building Budgets meetings throughout Shetland. Local people were asked to put forward their ideas on how to save money. To date we are awaiting an outcome. The rural areas of Shetland are NOT subsidy junkies, we are, in fact, net contributors to the Shetland economy.

    Reply
  12. Steven Brown

    Oh Mark Mark Mark, whit a witless letter du has come wi, an I see no suggestion as to finding a solution coming fae dee, du’s maybe better aff where du is.
    Its joost a pity dat du wis da first tae reply to such a tremendous video and call to arms against the establishment of crazy past investment and future implementation and destruction of rural areas!!

    Reply
  13. David Spence

    I would suggest a way of keeping the schools open, and probably cheaper, is to close the not used Leisure Centres. I could probably place a safe bet on that most the Leisure Centres are empty for the best part of the year, but still costs a fortune to run and keep going. I bet, if I were to compress the total time the Leisure Centre is used in rural area’s, it would be, probably, less than 25% of the total within a year.

    However, a building of far greater importance than the futile pursuit of

    (that most competitive (bringing out, just like business ethics the more negative traits of human behaviour on the basis of being rewarded a pathetic shield or cup of no value whatsoever to the community as a whole) in many ways, selfish act (much of sport is focused on the individual and not the community as a whole) of attempting to better yourself only, where nobody else benefits whatsoever)

    sport via a Leisure Centre, is the building which does bring the community together, has greater value towards the community, has greater value in providing the tools in which to improve your life (called education – far superior in every way to sport) has the full respect and support by the community, the good aspects of this very valuable asset to the community is endless……..It is called a School.

    Close the pathetic Leisure Centres and KEEP the SCHOOLS OPEN.

    Reply
  14. Johan Adamson

    I think the video and especially the singing is fantastic. A lot more creative than anything the people who should be looking after wir bairns have come up with.

    Mark, we need rural schools. Pupil numbers are not dwindling in some areas, and we need to encourage people to live in the isles, and other country areas, not leave. Do you want all of these people to move in with you instead, attend Bells Brae, which is a crumbling building and make it too huge to cope?

    Reply
  15. Duncan Simpson

    What leisure centres are these that aren’t used David? I know that the Whalsay one is used frequently by both primary and secondary schools as well as adults all year round. Perhaps some savings can be made here but closure would be another huge blow to any island community. Where would the school children do PE in the long winter months? Where would clubs such as swimming, badminton and netball be held? Not to mention the adult learning centre and the fitness suite which are both very popular.

    I wish people, such as the person who is so ill informed about Council tax, would have a proper think about things before spouting off their opinions. Ignorance (mainly by people outwith the rural areas) on these issues is why we are in this predicament in the first place.

    Reply
  16. Cheryl Jamieson

    Anybody with bairns in school in Lerwick needs to be looking at this very seriously. Don’t believe the nonsense that rural Shetland is a financial drain, and instead ponder a Lerwick full to bursting because we’ve all had to move there in order to keep our families together, or because our jobs have gone. Think of your schools with more bairns but no more resources because they can’t simply transfer the money with the bairns because that would mean no savings. Think of what other cuts will need to be made when they realise that the cost of hostelling and transporting all the junior high bairns was drastically underestimated. Rural Shetland contributes millions to the local economy, and the folk there work hard to create vibrant communities. All this is under threat, that means Shetland is under threat, and this includes Lerwick!

    Reply
  17. David Spence

    Duncan, many of the schools which the Council are proposing to close were around, functioning, having value to the community long before Leisure Centres were even thought about.

    If I had a choice as to, of the two, which building was worth keeping open and is of far greater value than any Leisure Centre to the community, it goes without saying that the Schools would win hands down.

    Leisure Centres may have some minuscule value to the community in comparison to schools, but they also install a competitive element to the psychology of an individual, which is akin to commercial and business practices and this so-called drive to better ones self at all costs, including cheating, dishonesty, bribery and all the other negatives aspects of human nature which is brought to the fore as a consequence of having that competitive psychology.

    You only have to look across the pond to see how competitive people are, and also how much those people are obsessed with violence, power, domination, patriotism, xenophobia and arrogance……..all traits of a competitive nature and this of a capitalist based social system where, like all sports, business is very similar in its basic structure and goals and how it is executed.

    Education verses Sport……….mmmmmm……. difficult……..It doesn’t take rocket science to see that education (we are talking proper education and not physical education) wins by a huge margin, and is so much more beneficial to society as a whole……….there is, excuse the pun, no competition lol

    Reply
    • Duncan Simpson

      My God where to start. Firstly, no one would argue that Leisure Centres are more important than Schools and that education is more important than sport.

      Secondly, your point is irrelevant because as far as I am aware the funding comes from entirely different budgets. There are many more things the SIC wastes money on that are less beneficial than Leisure Centres.

      Thirdly, claiming that sport and competition leads to things such as “xenophobia and arrogance” is quite frankly ridiculous in my view. Whatever kind of Utopia you envision without competitive business practices and personal ambition does not exist. We in the real world value the health benefits that getting children involved in sport and exercise brings.

      Reply
      • Duncan Simpson

        Apologies, first comment should read: No one would argue against the fact that schools and education are more important than leisure centres and sport.

    • Duncan Simpson

      David, firstly no one is suggesting that education and schools are less important or valuable than sport and leisure centres.

      Secondly, as far as I am aware the funding for Leisure Centres come from an entirely separate budget so its not as simple as just closing one instead of the other.

      Thirdly, you are entitled to your opinion about the behaviours that sport and exercise encourages but I certainly don’t agree with them at all. I for one greatly value the social and health benefits that come with taking part in sporting activities, especially for children who might otherwise be inactive. You may not like a “capitalist based social system” but that is the world we live in. I certainly don’t believe that letting people (of any age) play football or netball for example causes an obsession with “violence, power, domination, patriotism, xenophobia and arrogance”.

      From your obvious disdain for all things sporting I assume you think the Clickamin should also be closed for the greater good of the populace?

      Reply
  18. David Spence

    I like paradox Duncan of having so many Leisure Centres and stronger emphasis on physical activity as a consequence of the Olympics of 2012 and the Commonwealth Games this year, and yet the obesity rate, especially in Scotland, in the United Kingdom has never been so high.

    It is estimated that by the year 2025, over 27%, if not higher, of the population will be classified as Clinically Obese, of which, as present figures and estimated figures project, the obesity rate in the youth is set to increase tremendously to the level where the forecast is estimated that over 30% of young people will be classified obese.

    Personally, like what they do in Scandinavia, I would put a very heavy tax on fast food or food with a high fat content as a possible deterrent, and to price healthy food far cheaper as a means of low income families or individuals getting a more nutritious, healthy diet.

    There is far too much emphasis on Fast Foods and their convenience within society. It should be made far more difficult and expensive to obtain, as the damage to health should take priority and not filling the pockets of fat cats like BFK, McDonalds, Burger King etc etc.

    Reply

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