The Shetland Times » The Shetland Times Shetland News, Sport, Jobs, Properties, Shop Thu, 26 Nov 2015 13:54:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tanker charges to rise by 83 per cent Wed, 25 Nov 2015 18:33:19 +0000 Tanker charges at Sullom Voe terminal will rise by 83 per cent next year, giving rise to the hope that some of the losses incurred this year will be redressed.

This year the council’s ports and harbours took in £3 million less than expected – £5.5 million was forecast, but only just over £2 million is now expected to go into the harbour account at the end of the financial year.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s harbour board, executive finance manager Jonathan Belford said: “We were not generating as much as we hoped from Sullom Voe because of the reduced number of tankers.” In addition, the low oil price and extended shutdown of the Clair field platform had contributed to this.

He added that projected income from the Shetland Gas Plant would be lower than expected. Instead of operating throughout 2015/16, it was now only expected to start production next month. Given the low oil and gas prices, and as the gas plant would not initially be operating at full capacity, it is only expected to yield £250,000 in the last quarter of 2015/16 and £693,000 in 2016/17.

However, Mr Belford said he was sure the loss this year would be recovered in 2016/17, and it would be a better year for the harbour account, with a net surplus of £7.5 million.

Head of infrastructure Maggie Sandison said that a recent meeting with BP had shown that they understood the need for cost recovery, and vice-chairman Robert Henderson said there was “no problem” with BP, who recognised the council could not support the terminal with state aid.

Harbour board chairwoman Andrea Manson said that she did not think the 83 per cent price increase for tankers would put operators off. She said: “I certainly hope not. They [charges] were not all that expensive to start with.”

Some additional income will be generated by all other harbour charges for all other council pier users being increased by three per cent.

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Man jailed after visiting former partner Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:29:59 +0000 A man has been sentenced to 12 weeks behind bars after he admitted breaching an interdict by visiting his former partner against her wishes.

Oliver Tait, 44, of Lingaro, Bixter, was also ordered to abide by a two year non-harassment order which prevents him from making contact with the woman.

Sentence on Tait was previously deferred for background reports to be compiled.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said a list of Tait’s previous convictions related to the same woman, as well as breaches in special bail conditions.

He told Sheriff Philip Mann his former partner had been left “terrified” of him, and suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their past relationship.

“Clearly, there is an interdict in place,” he said.

The court heard Tait had breached the interdict when he appeared at the woman’s address.

She had gone out a side door of the house when she looked and saw him walking around from the front.

“He said he needed to talk to her,” the fiscal said. “She replied he shouldn’t have been there.”

The woman felt she needed to contact her mother to come and collect her to take her from the address.

Mr MacKenzie called for a non-harassment order which would prevent Tait from entering the Lerwick street where she lives, or to approach or contact the woman.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Tait had managed to stay out of trouble for two years. He had initially spent a week on remand but had behaved himself since his release.

Mr Allan added Tait had wanted to apologise to the woman for the way their relationship had worked out.

“From time to time he feels a need to make amends and draw a line under things.”

However, the sheriff sentenced him to 12 weeks in custody from Wednesday and granted the non-harassment order requested by the Crown.

“You must know the effect you have on this particular lady, and I’ve just had a look at the minutes from a court appearance on 29th May 2013 when I imposed a custodial sentence for a statutory breach of the peace in relation to the same woman.

“It seems to me the message hasn’t got through, and the only way to get that through is to impose a custodial sentence.”

Tait attempted to draw the attention of the press before being led from the dock to begin his sentence.

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Regulator meets politicians over Loganair concerns Wed, 25 Nov 2015 13:04:49 +0000 Northern Isles politicians have held a meeting with senior managers at the Civil Aviation Authority to press the need for clarity on safety measures.

The meeting comes in the aftermath of several recent incidents on flights to and from the isles and follows the revelation that pilots’ union Balpa put in writing its concerns about Loganair aircraft.

Concerns about the standard of the service had already been debated in both the Scottish and Westminster parliaments. This week discussions were held between Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and his Orkney counterpart Liam McArthur and the CAA, which oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom.

At Monday’s meeting the CAA confirmed that Loganair, which operates the lifeline flights between the isles and the mainland, meets all European safety requirements.

The Northern Isles representatives stressed that public confidence in the safety and reliability of their lifeline air services is of paramount importance.

In a joint statement the three parliamentarians said: “This was a useful discussion with senior representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority. It enabled us to relay some of the concerns that are being expressed by our constituents and to seek assurances that these are taken seriously by the airline and the regulator.

“The Civil Aviation Authority clarified to us that Loganair’s services meet European safety requirements. They further confirmed that the CAA remains in close contact with all commercial airlines, including Loganair, on a continual basis to provide safety oversight and advice.

“Loganair has acknowledged that improving reliability of their services is an absolute priority. This will, of course, require action on a number of fronts.

“In the meantime, we remain determined to keep representing the interests and views of our constituents, who depend on these lifeline services.”

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Paris in all our thoughts (David Grieve) Wed, 25 Nov 2015 10:50:14 +0000 In recent weeks, the city of Paris has been constantly in the news because of the horrendous events of Friday 13th November.

For the next 10 days Paris should again be in every news headline because the city will be the host to the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At the conference, which will take place between 30th November and 11th December, politicians from over 190 countries will meet to attempt to negotiate a deal on climate change to limit emissions from developed countries and to help developing countries adapt to the impact of climate change and develop low carbon economies.

The burden of climate change often falls most heavily on the poorest in the world, those who have done least to cause it. Recall if you can how Cyclone Pam’s 170mph winds wrecked the low-lying Pacific islands groups of Tuvalu and Vanuatu, killing more than 100 people and destroying the homes and lives of more than half a million people.

In the future will 2015 be remembered for terrorist attacks in Paris or for Cyclone Pam?

If we, that is the people who live on this planet, are to survive the threats of climate change then everyone must work together now – everyone – and that means us as individuals and as local communities right up to the top political figures on our planet.

Please keep climate justice in your thoughts and in your prayers at this crucial time in the existence of our planet.

Let us hope that 2015 will be remembered as the year in which decisive action was taken to save our planet.

<b>David Grieve</b>
Kantersted Court,

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Another planning farce! (Mike Bennett) Wed, 25 Nov 2015 10:24:03 +0000 I write in support of Henry Francesco MacColl and his proposed Italian pizzeria/restaurant between Voe and Brae.

That council officials should reject his plans on the grounds that people would have to travel by car to eat at the restaurant thus contributing to climate change, beggars belief even for a council not renowned for its clear thinking on planning decisions.

This surely comes under the same agenda as shutting rural schools. If it’s in the town we are all urged to support it but if it’s in the country then forget about it.

Extending the idea that a facility should be within walking or cycling range then heaven help us in the country if we are seriously ill because as far as I am aware, the only hospital requires the use of a car or ambulance unless planners have a scheme for a new generation of electric buses with racks for stretchers.

Our local mobile dentist surgery in Bixter closed down some years ago and it seems that it is fine for us to drive to Brae for treatment as long as we don’t call in for a pizza on the way home.

Perhaps customers at Frankie’s should be required to bring ID to ensure that they haven’t travelled more than a couple of miles.

Will there be an embargo on Sunday teas and other events in the country halls as week in and week out folk head out for a drive, with car parks and roadsides around the halls full most Sundays in the summer?

Folk in the far north would surely save fuel driving to Brae rather than Lerwick or maybe they should be banned from eating out altogether. Perhaps the council should start a campaign for Lerwick restaurants for Lerwegians only!

We are all encouraged to support commercial enterprises in the town with special events put on to pull in the crowds. Perhaps, reversing the argument, country folk should be more mindful of climate change and boycott the town by not driving in to attend functions and spending their money in the shops.

If council officials could step out of the shadow of their own pomposity then they might see how they continually set themselves up for ridicule, not least through their dual standards. Failing that, they could always check out Tamar and Beenie’s next performance as they must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of highlighting this latest farce.

However, there is still hope for Mr MacColl and all those who would be delighted to support his enterprise, given that council officials rarely make their minds up once – eg in deciding the best place for the AHS and even the library!

Mike Bennett
The Back,

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‘Shock’ over rise in number of child protection cases Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:37:36 +0000 A councillor today sought reassurances over a recorded rise in child protection cases, which shot up by 157 in one financial year.

Lerwick councillor Amanda Westlake.

Amanda Westlake raised questions about the ‘pronounced’ rise in child protection referrals.

Amanda Westlake raised questions in the town hall about a “very pronounced” rise in referrals in 2014/15 compared with the previous year.

They show 234 referrals involving 382 children in the last financial year, compared with just 77 referrals – involving 94 children – previously recorded.

Initial child protection case conferences rose from 18 in 2013/14 to the latest recorded figure of 50.

The stats were contained in the chief social worker’s far-reaching annual report, which was being presented for the first time to members of the social services committee by Martha Nicolson, who took on the top social work job at the end of June.

Ms Westlake said she was “quite shocked” to see the rise in numbers, and wondered whether the increase had put pressure on staff. She also wondered whether it would be repeated in the following year’s report.

However, Mrs Nicolson pointed to changes in some of the processes around how referrals are recorded which had “inflated” some of the figures.

Early analysis reflected a hike in the number of referral cases nationally, with greater public awareness over issues which might lead to children being given protection.

Referrals about unsafe use of the internet sometimes relates to young people as well, the report found. More referrals also come from the NHS and schools than did before.

Mrs Nicolson said improved processes and communication between different agencies helped raise awareness around child protection.

She added a piece of work was ongoing around the number of child protection de-registrations, which had gone from five in 2013/14 to 29 last year – perhaps surprisingly, given the hike in registrations.

The study is examining how many of those de-registered have since gone back onto the child protection list.

She added two new social workers had been appointed to help deal with the workload – something Ms Westlake regarded as “reassuring”.

The meeting also heard of an increase in adult protection referrals, which went from 205 in 2013/14 to 223 in 2014/15. However, the vast majority of those – 215 – failed to meet a “three-point test” which assesses whether or not they are considered to be at risk.

The figures come against the unwelcome backdrop of a dip in budgets for children’s services and community care.

Budgets for those departments have reduced from £45.3 million and £22.9 million respectively to £39.4 million and £19.7 million in 2015/16. But further reductions identified in the council’s medium term financial plan will see the budgets drop again to £35.8 million and £18 million by 2019/20. The report points out that, as a share of the overall council budget, the resources allocated to the directorates will have increased.

Although it was Mrs Nicolson’s first annual report as chief social work officer, the meeting was the final social services committee meeting to be held in the town hall.

The committee is being phased out in favour of the new integration joint board – the body which bridges the council and health board.

Chairman Cecil Smith said he had chaired the social services committee for five and a half years. He added he had enjoyed his time chairing the committee, which had tried to deliver the best services possible for the people of Shetland.

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Italian restaurant idea frowned upon by planners Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:16:55 +0000 Plans for an Italian restaurant between Voe and Brae have failed to impress the council’s planners, but local businessman Henry MacColl is still hoping his dream venture will come off.

Henry MacColl is hopeful his plans to establish an Italian restaurant will still go ahead.

Henry MacColl is hopeful his plans to establish an Italian restaurant will still go ahead.

Mr MacColl, whose mother is Italian, wanted to build a 24-seat restaurant opposite his home at Parkgate, overlooking Olnafirth.

The restaurant was to be called Enrico’s Cucina di Napoli, after his mother’s hometown, and he planned to have a special clay pizza oven installed and import ingredients direct from Italy. His plan also included ancillary buildings and a car park.

But planning officials were not in favour, saying the location, midway between Brae and Voe, was not part of an existing settlement. In addition, it was not accessible except by car and would therefore contribute to climate change.

Planners said these factors made it contrary to the local development plan for the area, which became council policy after public consultation.

According to local policies, any new development should be “sustainable and accessible” and encouraged “within existing settlements” that have “basic services and infrastructure”. This would “maintain the vitality and vibrancy of that settlement… and the development [would be] more sustainably located to existing services, bus routes, etc.”

As the location is one and a half miles from Voe, and access would be by vehicle, planners said the proposal was “not sustainably located”, and against council policy of “sustainable development”.

Eateries should ideally be accessible by walking or cycling, as well as by car, making for “good placemaking”.

Additionally, planners said the development would not maintain or enhance the character of the area.

However, Mr MacColl, who runs Isometric Engineering at Sella Ness, refuted all these points. He said that many other eateries, including the Braewick Cafe in Eshaness, Busta House and the burger van by the Voe toilets, were also only accessible by car and were not part of existing settlements.

He said: “This policy is contrary to many restaurants. Who walks to any restaurant, or gets dressed up and goes on a bike?”

He also objected to the planners’ statement that the development would “neither maintain nor respect the existing character of the area”. The local plan states that “any new development should make a positive contribution to maintaining the identity and character of an area and ensure ease of movement and access for all.”

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Mr MacColl said: “There is plenty of access and parking and excellent views.” His plan would incorporate parking for the proposed eatery, situated on a loop road, formerly the main road, in a raised hillside location commanding wide views.

Planning official John Holden said the application was still in the process of consideration. He said: “The applicant has been made aware of the concerns and we are in the process of receiving comments.

“It is against the local development plan which is council policy, and we have to act in accordance with the plan. It’s now open to the applicant to say why the policy should be departed from.”

Mr MacColl, whose middle name is Francesco, loves cooking and the idea of catering for the public came from his twin daughters, Francesca and Chiara. He said: “I’ve been making pizza for years and the restaurant would be all-Italian, we would make our own pasta and my daughters would cook pastries, it would all be handmade.

“It would be romantic dining, something we don’t have here.”

His plan would incorporate a specialist igloo-shaped pizza oven to cook 12 pizzas in a minute and a half at high temperatures, the heat coming from above and below to ensure a crispy base. Certain ingredients such as cheese, prosciutto and spiced sausage would be imported, but other food would be local.

If his vision of a terracotta-tiled restaurant took off, he said, he would start a delivery service in the local area, and eventually employ six or more people.

He added: “Why is everything in Lerwick, why shouldn’t there be something in the country?”

The restaurant venture has had 660 likes on Facebook in three days, and Mr MacColl is going to press on with his application, hoping for a much support as possible. He has spoken to MSP Tavish Scott and local councillor Alastair Cooper, who he said were in “full support”, and has a lot of local backing.

Brae resident Aimee Manson said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea. It’s just amazing and morale-boosting for the community. It’s encouraging that we wouldn’t have to go to Lerwick. We don’t live in an inner city and we have to rely on our own transport, like we do when Chinese nights are held at local halls.

“It [the proposed restaurant] would be different and authentic, not the British version of what Italian food should be like, and it wouldn’t be encroaching on any other business.”

Voe resident John Taylor said: “I’m all for it. It’s a good idea and another variety of food, and if it’s authentic, brilliant. If I want to go for a meal anywhere I have to go by car.”

Council officials expect to make a decision on the planning application after Friday 4th December, the advertised deadline for written comments.

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Continental theme for choral concert Tue, 24 Nov 2015 10:29:59 +0000 Christmas in Europe will be the theme of Shetland Choral Society’s festive concert next week.

The performance in St Columba’s Church, Lerwick, promises to bring a “sprinkling of continental glitter” as well as a few well-known carols and some seasonal music, “that will be new to everyone”.

Conductor Peter Davis said: “Europe has always been a rich source of Christmas music for hundreds of years. Carols from France, Germany, Poland, and the old Czechoslovakia are particularly well known to us in Britain. However, there are other countries in northern Europe with an equally rich heritage of seasonal carols and hymns.

“We’ve got some carols from Sweden and Denmark on the programme this year as well as music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt who celebrated his eightieth birthday last month.”

The Shetland Choral Society will also sing the Gloria from a Mass based on Christmas carols by a mysterious Polish composer called Milek. There’s an extended piece, a short Christmas cantata by the Danish composer Buxtehude, a contemporary of J S Bach, in which the choral society will be joined by members of the Shetland Community Orchestra, as well as the usual audience participation carols.

There will also be items by the orchestra and some solo piano pieces.

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Education cuts loom as financial pressure grows Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:54:25 +0000 Education cuts are back on the agenda as the council looks to save nearly a million pounds in the next financial year – and this could include closing schools.

After a meeting of the education and families committee today, chairwoman Vaila Wishart said: “We have too many schools. We have to look at absolutely everything.”

The drastic measures are deemed necessary as the children’s services department braces itself for cuts of over £900,000 next financial year. Political leader Gary Robinson had strong words for the Scottish government over the way it funded education.

He said the government’s rigid policy on teacher ratios and class sizes were hindering Shetland’s education – one size did not fit all.

He said: “The clear message from [local authorities’ representative organisaiton] Cosla was that giving local authorities more freedom we’ll deliver better attainment.”

He said that the “multi-million pound” fund that the Scottish government had to increase attainment was being distributed “like sweeties” and Shetland would only get around £23,000 Cuts were being forced on Shetland, which was actually spending £125 for every £100 given by the Scottish government.

He said: “The Scottish government has a legal duty to ensure education if properly funded, we must put the message across.”

Head of children’s services Helen Budge said that in the past five years, £5 million had been taken out of children’s services, mainly in the schools service, plus £1.2 million from the closure of schools, making £6.2 million savings in total.

But in the next financial year £927,000 will have to be cut from children’s services, and Mrs Budge said: “It’s going to be very difficult, we had to make lots of cuts in the last five years and the next few years are going to be harder still.”

However, Mrs Budge said that she had not been asked to come up with a report on the school estate until 2017, which means no school closures will be considered until then.

Mrs Budge said the cuts would mean reductions on a range of services, including staffing in the library, in ASN departments, clerical staff in schools and central staff at Hayfield. This would be done by not replacing staff, rather than redundancies.

Additionally there would be cuts in the use of recreational buildings, fostering allowances, grass cutting and short breaks.

Vice-chairman of the education and families committee George Smith said he was “really concerned”, and it was “really serious” for schools. He said it was too early to say what it would mean, but the requirements of the Curriculum for Excellence would have to be met, and from those requirements, work out what resources were needed.

• Full story and reaction in Friday’s Shetland Times.

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Boisterous Blockheads get fans shaking and grooving Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:18:56 +0000 A frosty Sunday night at the end of November seems like an unlikely time for a boisterous gig in Shetland, but that’s exactly what new wave veterans The Blockheads delivered at Mareel this weekend.

Before the support band even took to the stage, fans filled the auditorium ready to dance the night away, and local group, Big Time Quell, started proceedings with a bang.

Shetland band Big Time Quell who supported the Blockheads at last night's concert at Mareel. From left: Jamie Hatchbar (guitar), Robert Balfour (drums), Thomas Jones (guitar) and Chris Cope (bass). Photo: Kevin Jones

Shetland band Big Time Quell who supported the Blockheads at last night’s concert at Mareel. From left: Jamie Hatchbar (guitar), Robert Balfour (drums), Thomas Jones (guitar) and Chris Cope (bass). Photo: Kevin Jones

Playing their first live outing as a four piece, the band (fronted by Jamie Hatch and Thomas Jones with backing from Chris Cope and Robert Balfour) got the crowd moving with an impressive instrumental number before transitioning into a hilariously delivered cover of Flight of the Conchords’ We’re Both In Love With A Sexy Lady.

But it was with the debut of three original songs, demonstrating both their musical and comedic chops, that they really won the audience over.

A particular favourite that had the crowd both singing and dancing along was Soul Patch, “an ode,” in the words of Hatch, “to the most underrated kind of facial hair.”

They finished their set with a cover of One Track Lover from cult comedy Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, expanded with impressive solos from each band member, leaving the audience in no doubt as to the level of musicianship on display.

As the raucous applause for Big Time Quell started to die down, the lights lowered and haze misted

The Blockheads on stage at Mareel last night. From left: Mick Gallagher (keyboards), Chaz Jankel (guitar), Derek The Draw (vocals), Norman Watt-Roy (bass),  John Roberts (drums) and John Turnbull (guitar). Photo: Kevin Jones

The Blockheads on stage at Mareel last night. From left: Mick Gallagher (keyboards), Chaz Jankel (guitar), Derek The Draw (vocals), Norman Watt-Roy (bass), John Roberts (drums) and John Turnbull (guitar). Photo: Kevin Jones

through the auditorium, signalling the arrival of The Blockheads.

Within seconds of taking to the stage, they had almost everyone on their feet dancing to Look The Other Way from their 2013 self-released album Same Horse, Different Jockey.

Bass player Norman Watt-Roy’s passion for the music and enormous enthusiasm for performing were immediately apparent as he grooved across the stage, while singer Derek Hussey (aka Derek The Draw) struck an eccentric and enigmatic figure with his long white hair and sunglasses.

As they moved into a mix of new and classic tunes (including one admonishing Phil Spector to “stop misbehaving”), each member of the band proved in turn why they continue to draw such enthusiastic audiences across the length and breadth of the country.

With stunning sax and clarinet weaved through the set by Gilad Atzmon and effortless dual soloing from guitarists Chaz Jankel and John Turnbull, the crowd was transfixed, and by the time the band kicked into their 1977 hit What A Waste, it was clear why The Blockheads still command such a loyal following, even after all the years and the tragic loss of Ian Dury in 2000.

Blockheads' vocalist Derek The Draw. Photo: Kevin Jones

Blockheads’ vocalist Derek The Draw. Photo: Kevin Jones

Derek The Draw had obviously researched his audience, cracking jokes between songs that went down a treat with the local crowd, including describing islanders as being like “2000 alcoholics clinging to a rock” and counting himself as a member of that number, raising two beers in hand to cheers and whoops.

Classic material like Billericay Dickie, with lead vocals deftly performed by Watt-Roy, had the audience skanking enthusiastically, while Undercover, a newer tune with reggae stylings and a poignant clarinet hook, got the crowd swaying.

But it was, unsurprisingly, their biggest hits Reasons To Be Cheerful and Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick that took things to the next level, with the few audience members still seated at the back finally compelled to get up and shake, groove, and sing along when the familiar notes kicked in.

They left the stage to frenzied chants of “we want more,” foot stomping and applause, duly returning within moments to give the crowd what they wanted.

Before beginning their final songs, they thanked promoter Jeff Merrifield, in the words of Derek The Draw, “a real diamond geezer,” and his Shetland Jazz and World Sounds group (Jaws) for making the concert possible and the crowd cheered appreciatively.

Derek then introduced the surprisingly downtempo finisher Lullaby for Francies by explaining, “This is so you don’t get in trouble for being too rowdy on the way home.”

In retrospect, a smart choice given the frenzy caused by Rhythm Stick.

As they played through the song each member slowly set down his instrument in turn and walked off stage to applause, fittingly leaving Norman Watt-Roy and drummer John Roberts to finish up by themselves before bowing and taking their triumphant leave.

“We hope you’ll all be here again to see us next year,” said Derek, “and bring a friend next time.” I know I will.

Lisa Ward

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