The Shetland Times » The Shetland Times Shetland News, Sport, Jobs, Properties, Shop Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:25:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 More ferry disruption Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:25:50 +0000 Tonight’s  southbound sailing of NorthLink ferry Hjaltland will depart at 4pm due to a poor forecast. The arrival time into Aberdeen in subject to delay.

The northbound sailing of Hrossey from Aberdeen will only go to Kirkwall, and the vessel will return to Aberdeen on Friday night.

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‘Great news’ for post offices Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:06:36 +0000 The Post Office Card Account, which offers an account for pensioners and benefit claimants to use at post offices, is safe for another seven years.

The news has been welcomed by isles MP Alistair Carmichael, who said it would protect a key service for vulnerable pensioners and benefit claimants as well as help safeguard the future of the post office.

Mr Carmichael said: “This is great news for our post office network which continues to be at the heart of many communities in the isles.

“Local postmasters and postmistresses have been telling me for some time how important the continuation of this contract is to their business so I know that they will welcome this news.”

The card account is widely used in Shetland, and this week’s announcement by Westminster’s pensions minister Steve Webb that it will continue until at least 2022 in a £250 million contract has delighted subpostmasters.

Aith subpostmistress Mary Henry said: “It’s good news for pensioners, they’re the ones that use our post office the most.”

This was echoed by Scalloway Post Office officer in charge Martin Fisher, who said: “A lot of elderly people will appreciate it.”

Mary Nicolson of East Yell Post Office said: “The Post Office Card Account is one of our most important things, it’s a good line of business.”

The card account was developed when pensions started to be paid into bank accounts, rather than via pension books, and helped people who would not otherwise have had a bank account. Its continuation will benefit post offices, which have recently lost other trade such as TV licences and DVLA work.

Mrs Nicolson added: “The post office is a way of life, people should be able to come to the post office and get everything, the way they used to.”

Mr Carmichael said the retention of the accounts was part of a continued effort to make the post office a “front office” for government services.

He said: “It means that local people can continue to use their local post office branch to access vital services such as receiving their pension or tax credits.

“Many people choose to use the post office to collect their pensions, benefits and other services. This new agreement will also help subpostmasters to attract more business and generate income for their important local businesses. I know that [business secretary] Vince Cable is also working to ensure that more banking transactions can be done in post offices. That too will help to secure their future and help make them more profitable.

“Post offices have been neglected for years and the job of fixing that will not be quick or easy. Despite financial pressures the coalition has put £1.34 billion into the business.

“I’m determined that post offices and subpostmasters in Shetland get the support they deserve.”

The card is used by almost three million UK customers every week to receive their pensions, benefits and tax credit payments.

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Christmas behind bars for repeat offender Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:52:24 +0000 A repeat offender will be spending Christmas behind bars after he was seen hanging around someone’s house for no good reason.

George Cruickshank, 32, of Nederdale, Lerwick, was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment when he appeared from custody on Wednesday before honorary sheriff Arnold Duncan.

Unemployed Cruickshank landed in hot water when residents at a house in Upper Sound heard a noise and saw him leaving their garage.

On being challenged he insisted he lived upstairs, which procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said was a lie.

They found items had been disturbed and called the police, who later tracked down Cruickshank nearby. The incident happened on 29th November.

Cruickshank was released on an undertaking, but failed to appear in court on 10th December.

Defence agent Chris Dowle said Cruickshank had little recollection of the incident. He said the accused had been staying at a guest house but was now living at his partner’s address.

He argued Cruickshank had not committed the most serious of offences, adding nothing had been stolen in the incident.

Cruickshank’s main problem, the court heard, was his long list of previous convictions.

“There was some disturbance of some items … but that was all, and he did leave on being asked to do so by the householders,” said Mr Dowle.

“Mr Cruickshank is very anxious that he not be remanded or given a prison sentence today.”

He added Cruickshank had not fully understood the requirements of him to attend court earlier this month after being released by police.

He added Cruickshank’s offending had been thinning out since 2012, although he could not deny he had a “formidable” record.

He urged honorary sheriff Duncan to impose a community-based disposal, stressing Cruickshank was willing to abide by a restriction of liberty.

However, Mr Duncan challenged the notion that the offence was at the lower end of the scale.

“It’s not a minor matter – anything but,” he said.

Honorary sheriff Duncan told Cruickshank: “I have taken into account both what your solicitor, Mr Dowle, has said with regards to the situation, the charges against you to which you pled guilty, and also the views of the procurator fiscal.

“There is little doubt you have a formidable criminal record, much of that being crimes of dishonesty.”

Allowing for the early plea he reduced the sentence from a total of 24 weeks.

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NorthLink sailings under review Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:52:20 +0000 NorthLink’s sailings tomorrow  may be disrupted due to the poor weather.

The southbound sailing of Hrossey is scheduled to depart Lerwick for Aberdeen at 7pm, but may be subject to delays. The northbound sailing of Hjaltland from Aberdeen to Lerwick is under review.

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Collins calls for tough stance on discard ban Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:35:23 +0000 The European Commission has a brilliant opportunity to address profound concerns about the forthcoming application of fishing discard bans, according to a fishermen’s spokesman.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said that the end of year Fisheries Council that has been running for the last two days looked like holding few surprises on main species quotas that were previously decided at talks between the EU and Norway.

But he warned that the pelagic landings obligation that comes into force in January was “legal chaos” that must be fixed urgently and the same situation not allowed to crop again when the white fish discard ban takes force in 2016.

Shetland Fishermen's Association executive officer Simon Collins.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins.

Mr Collins said: “With this pelagic ban we have got two completely incompatible sets of rules and the commission is incapable of saying what the law is.

“It’s like having a ball but you do not know if the rules are meant to be rugby or football and they are saying ‘now get on with it’.”

Mr Collins said that the industry and Scottish government were doing a good job lobbying the commission on the discard ban which had to get it right. “It has to be fixed in time, and that time is now,” he said.

Previously, boats could dump fish that did not meet the minimum landing size. They will soon be prevented from doing this, but will face the problem of being compelled to land fish that are technically illegal.

He said that the negotiators would also have to make sure that the commission did not attempt to sneak in a tightening of the number of days boats were allowed at sea through the back door.

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Ferry dispute put on hold Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:25:39 +0000 Planned industrial action on several Shetland Islands Council ferries, due to take place tomorrow morning, has been called off.

It had been expected that ferries on the Yell Sound, Bluemull Sound, Whalsay and Skerries routes would be disrupted between 6am and 9am, due to action by members of the Unite union.

The situation has been caused by 12 ferry mates who are refusing to act up as masters due to anomalies over the council’s Single Status Collective Agreement. They were balloted last week and agreed to strike each Wednesay morning until 4th March next year over the issue.

However, according to Unite regional organiser John Taylor the dispute will now be “put on hold” prior to talks with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

North Isles councillor Steven Coutts welcomed the development. He said: “The council is keen to talk to the union and welcomes the fact that the strike has been called off. We look forward to an open discussion with them [union reps].”

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Car on roof Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:03:05 +0000 A 4×4 car went off the road and ended up on its roof in Mossbank this morning.

Police said that the single vehicle accident was reported by the driver around 6am. No-one was hurt and the owner organised his own tow for the up-ended offroader which had gone off a minor road.

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Campaign leaders collect public service award Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:48:53 +0000 ST14-51 oiof awardThe leaders and chief executives of Scotland’s three islands councils have won another award in connection with their work on the Our Islands Our Future campaign.

Launched in June 2013 the campaign aimed to tackle a range of shared issues on the back of the opportunity presented by the independence referendum.

The campaign gained commitments from both the Scottish and UK governments. Those behind it have won the Leadership category at the Scottish Public Service Awards on Friday.

Following the ceremony the SIC’s political leader Gary Robinson said: “This award is recognition of the unprecedented joint work between the three islands councils. I welcome the acknowledgement of our national lobbying to promote the needs of our islands and to find solutions that best fit our communities.

“Work is now ongoing with both the Scottish and UK governments to deliver on their respective pledges. I’d like to thank all those involved who have worked on and supported the Our Islands Our Future campaign since the start of 2013.”

The leaders of the two other islands councils – Orkney Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) – spoke of their delight.

Orkney Islands Council convener Steven Heddle said: “This is recognition of the work we’ve done in the islands, collectively and in our island groups. It shows that thinking differently is both relevant and appropriate, and vindicates our key argument that one size should not fit all, and that we need the flexibility to find islands solutions to make the most of our opportunities and address our issues.”

Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, added: “The referendum in Scotland opened up a unique opportunity for the island areas to enforce the fact that the needs and status of island areas are different and need to be clearly recognised in the new era for Scotland. I am delighted that through this joint working since the launch of the project back in June 2013, we have demonstrated what a cohesive and innovative approach can achieve in bringing real benefits on issues which are of importance to our communities.”

As part of the commitments from governments a newly-created islands’ portfolio has been handed to MSP Derek Mackay, while

Westminster created an Islands Working Group, comprised of the three councils and the Scotland Office, which will meet a minimum of three times annually to discuss and “help drive forward” economic and social priorities, with input from “lead UK government departments.”

There will also be an annual meeting between the secretary of state for Scotland – at present Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael – and the three island councils.

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Mayday after plane is struck by lightning Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:28:04 +0000 A passenger flight was struck by lightning as it approached Sumburgh Airport last night.

The incoming flight was forced to return to Aberdeen with 29 passengers on board.

A mayday was issued by the crew and emergency vehicles were summoned to greet the plane on its arrival back at Aberdeen Airport.

Passengers were given hotel accommodation overnight and continued their journey this morning.

Loganair said: “Flight BE6780 from Aberdeen to Sumburgh was struck by lightning on approach to the airport.

“The captain took the decision to return to Aberdeen Airport and a mayday call was made as a precaution.

“As is standard procedure when any mayday call is initiated, the aircraft was met by the airport’s emergency crews as it landed safely.

“The aircraft was carrying three crew and 29 passengers, who were accommodated overnight and continued their journey this morning.”

• For full story, see this week’s Shetland Times.

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Gas cylinder leak Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:08:23 +0000 Three fire engines were involved in a 10-hour operation dealing with a leaking gas cylinder at the Staney Hill yesterday.

The area had been cordoned off and firemen were still involved venting and monitoring the acetylene cylinder until after midnight. The  fire brigade was alerted at  2.25pm. Two sets of breathing apparatus, a ground monitor and thermal imaging camera were used in the operation.

The Old North Road is understood to have been closed for a time while the incidentwas being dealt with.

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