21st September 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Popular vote for AHS hostel name ignored by councillors

An overwhelming public vote was trumped by the informal rules of naming as a council committee decided to call the new Anderson High School halls of residence – the Anderson High School Halls.

Despite sweeping the poll with 44 votes – over half the 80 cast – the overwhelming favourite “George McGhee” was binned for the more prosaic and less popular choice.

The decision by the Education and Families Committee prompted councillor Davie Sandison to question the whole consultation process as a waste of time.

Vaila Wishart – "a critical time for education"

Vaila Wishart

Chairwoman Vaila Wishart acknowledged that George McGhee, who retires this month after 37 years of “sterling service” as warden, housemaster and head of service at Janet Courtney Hostel, was by far the most popular choice.

But, she said, Mr McGhee was still living, which was very much against the norms of naming public buildings, while “at least Anderson’s dead,” she said, raising a titter in the chamber.

Additionally, the committee heard, it would be bad practice for local authority buildings to be named after employees, or council members.

Ms Wishart said that Mr McGhee, who has been a very popular during his time at the hostel, should be honoured in some other way, perhaps being invited to open the new building at Clickimin when it is complete next year.

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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20 comments

  1. Allen Fraser

    So councillors have decided to reject a popular vote and name the new hostel after somebody called Anderson who made his money in the opium trade.
    What a shining example to the bairns.

    Reply
  2. Iris Sandison

    Disappointing decision. Isn’t it better to honour people while they’re still alive? As for being bad practice to name public buildings after employees or council members…. Edward Thomason House??

    Reply
    • Christopher Johnston

      Dead persons cannot say or do things that might embarass politicians and bureaucrats. Live persons pose a risk.

      Reply
  3. Craig Gibson

    Maybe if his name was Johnson or Jamieson. He might have faired better?

    Reply
  4. ian tinkler

    Allen, perhaps if the current incumbents of the town hall were on Opium we would at long last have some sane and innovative decisions. At least it would make council meeting less dull. Peace brothers, let’s go chase a dragon!!!

    Reply
  5. Lynne Jackson

    Disgraceful. The public overruled – so why bother letting them be part of the process? I’m sure other buildings have been named to honour people who were still alive. I get sick and tired of hearing of members of the council behaving this way. They are, in fact, public servants and shouldn’t ride rough-shod through the wishes of the folk who pay their wages.

    And wasn’t the school opened (1862) and named while Arthur Anderson (1792 -1868) was still alive? Or was it called something different until he passed off this mortal coil?

    Reply
    • fraser cluness

      I think he paid for it so that’s why its called that, as is the Bruce hostel called that because he paid for it.

      so if anyone wants to pays for the hostel then they can name it?

      Reply
  6. Robert Wiseman

    Is there not a John Goodlad building in Scalloway?

    Reply
  7. Neil Pearson

    Why are we still calling this school the Anderson high school? Did anyone called Anderson fund it or leave it to the local authority following their death? Surely it has less business being called the “Anderson high school halls of residence” than it does the “George McGhee halls if residence”. Let’s stick with logic and call it the “Scottish futures trust halls of residence”.

    Reply
  8. leslie sinclair

    Rename it George Mghee halls of residence. Let the public decide.

    Reply
  9. Angela Cruickshank

    Why is it being called the Anderson High School anyway. Surely it should be called Clickimin High school and Clickimin halls of residence as it is next to Clickimin leisure centre, Clickimin Brough, Clickimin loch, and Clickimin playing fields!!!

    Reply
    • David Spence

      A very good point, Angela………… most appropriate given the large Clickimin connection.

      Reply
  10. David Spence

    Why not name it

    ‘ This building, like the school, is not large enough (just like the library) and we’ll have to build an extension soon as Shetlands economy shrinks and we go back to the old days of where everything will be focused on Lerwick ‘……..again.

    …………ok, rather long. lol

    Reply
  11. Matthew Simpson

    Am I the only one that voted for “Hotel McHostelface”?

    Reply
    • David Spence

      I seriously thought about it, Matthew………………one never knows what the Council will now pick? lol

      One could name the Hostel ‘ TheCouncilknowsbetterinnamingbuildingsMcTheCouncilknowsbetterinnamingbuildingsFACE ‘ lol

      OK, a tad long again. lol

      Reply
  12. Charles L. Gallagher

    I agree with all of the above but having no connection t Lerwick or to the School I have no axe to grind but I did think that naming the new hostel after a much respected person who has given so much to the kids in his charge was highly appropriate, However I do not need to remind everyone that you can get your revenge in next Cooncil Election, beware the wrath of the people.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Charlie,

      Nice to know you’re concerned about democracy, after all.

      When SNP Shetland wouldn’t join WIr Shetland and the Shetland Consevatives in supporting ‘Democracy For Shetland Charitable Trust’, I thought you surely weren’t for devolving power to the lowest practical level?

      After all, it’s hard to conceive of a more concrete case than for Shetlanders to have a say over how their own money is managed on their behalf? Don’t you agree?

      Reply
  13. Peter Hamilton

    Well I have a big respect for the wonderful George but suggested calling the new hostel after Bill Smith for a number of reasons as Bill did huge amounts for education in Shetland and is well remembered for his maxim that the council’s main purpose is to look out for them that can’t look out for themselves, which was known to Arthur Anderson as doing “weel” – looking out for the common good. As for JT’s comment re. the SNP and D4SCT, they haven’t not endorsed democracy for the trust and may yet voice support for a fair and proper local consultation as a minimal step to try prevent the loss of public control of £240M+. A future council may reverse the hostel naming decision. Once democratic accountability is removed from the trust however…

    Reply
    • David Thomson

      Couldn’t agree more with the Bill Smith option and just about on his old back door step, a man who did all he could for education in his time as a councillor.

      Reply
  14. Andy Holt

    This most recent controversy over the emotive issue of naming the new hostel has had unexpected results in our household. The invention of a new game suitable for all the family. “Name That Building.” There are no rules and happily names of both the living and the dead may be used. For example “Mareel” to be known henceforth as “The Leonid Brezhnev Cultural Centre” in recognition of its Soviet ‘brutalist’ architectural style. The White House from now on to be known as ‘The Titanic Centre’ in recognition of the possibility it may be sinking slowly into the sea. The creative possibilities are endless.

    Reply

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