The Shetland TimesThe Shetland Times Shetland News, Sport, Jobs, Properties, Shop Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:25:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 NHS Shetland makes budget cut challenge Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:23:27 +0000 NHS Shetland managers have been asked to consider how they would slash their budgets by 10 per cent, as the organisation grapples with ongoing financial problems.

In a newsletter to staff, chief executive Ralph Roberts has issued the “10 per cent workforce challenge”, requiring managers to see how they could make a 10 per cent financial saving. This could mean fewer staff – although the board has a policy of no compulsory redundancies – or staff on a different pay grade within a department. Staff costs account for 70 of expenditure.

But in any case: “We will all need to recognise that we can’t afford to provide the same service in the same way for ever.”

It could also mean changes to the way in which services are delivered.

Mr Roberts said that although NHS Shetland would meet its financial targets this year, in the medium term it is not sustainable. The board’s five-year financial plan requires it to make around £6 million-worth of “recurrent”, or permanent, savings, but this is difficult in the face of “pressures” such as pay awards and increases in drug and energy costs.

The board, he said, has a “significant ongoing financial challenge”.

He continued: “With over 70 per cent of our local costs in staffing, it is inevitable that we have to look at our workforce if we are to achieve the level of savings required…

“We understand this is not easy to do and this is not about asking existing staff just to work harder. We are therefore looking for managers to identify what else would need to change to allow these workforce savings to be delivered, and what the risks [would be] to service areas where either no or only a smaller change is possible, but it is important we assess that in as fair and equitable a way as possible.

“We may also need to invest in some places, perhaps in training, equipment or numbers to allow a bigger change somewhere else.

“We also recognise that in Shetland, where we have many very small or single-handed services this can be harder than in a large service.

“This will then allow us to make sensible medium term decisions about the workforce. We will also need to take into account the ‘No Redundancy’ policy in place across NHS Scotland and therefore any proposed changes will need to take into account how quickly any departments will change through staff turnover and retirements.”

He stressed that if staff reductions meant a diminished service: “we will need to make an explicit decision that that is something it is appropriate to do for that service.”

Mr Roberts encouraged as many staff as possible to be involved in the “complicated” piece of work so that the “best possible” decisions could be made about the future workforce. Work carried out so far will be collated next month, and will be continued over the summer.

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Writer gives away e-books to raise money for charity Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:11:27 +0000 Willie Spence died of myeloma last year and his writer daughter is raising money in his memory with a book giveaway.

Willie Spence died of myeloma last year and his writer daughter is raising money in his memory with a book giveaway.

A writer hailing from Unst is giving away copies of her Kindle e-books, in order to raise money for Myeloma UK after her dad died last year of the disease.

Yvonne Spence said her father Willie Spence suffered from the bone marrow cancer for nearly five years, before his death in August, aged 90.

Tomorrow is his birthday and to commemorate him, as well as to raise money for the charity, she is giving away a collection of short stories – Looking for America, based in Shetland, and in part inspired by her father, and the novel Drawings in Sand set in Aberdeen, with some Shetland scenes, and dedicated to her dad.

Writer Yvonne Spence.

Writer Yvonne Spence.

Yvonne has set up a justgiving page for people to make donations to the charity when downloading the books. The page also has details of where to find the books.

“My dad was very supportive of my writing and really liked my novel so it seemed like the best thing to do to remember him,” said Yvonne, who now lives in Edinburgh.

The majority of the short stories have appeared in print, including one tale which has featured in Shetland Life.

A story about an old crofter was inspired by her father, she says and her short stories have been described as having “gentle humour”, which fits with the Shetland landscape.

Yvonne says myeloma is the 17th most common cancer in the UK, with a relatively high incidence in Shetland.

There is no cure, and Yvonne said they had not heard of the disease until her father’s diagnosis.

Yvonne added although her dad lived a long life, cancer takes a hard toll at any age and damaged Willie’s bones, causing him constant pain.

Willie was very well-known in Unst, she said and was born in Shetland where he lived all his life.

As a teenager he worked as a plumber during the construction of the radar station in Skaw during World War Two, having to hide in the cliffs during bombing attacks.

Afterwards he worked at RAF Saxa Vord as a foreman.

The health of those suffering with Myeloma varies enormously, said Yvonne, but the vast majority with the disease die within five years.

Myeloma UK supports those with the illness, as well as being at the forefront of research for causes and cures.

The giveaway runs until Monday.

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Emergency stop to motorsport events Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:37:54 +0000 Petrol-heads have been offered hope that land may become available for motor sport events, despite a move by councillors to put the brakes on high-octane attractions at Tingwall Airport.

Members of today’s environment and transport committee gave their backing to a report recommending the airstrip should not be made available for “non-aviation use”.

Key among concerns listed was the air ambulance, which can land at Tingwall at all times. Members were told staging motor sport events there would have meant closing the airport to all traffic, including the air ambulance.

Head of infrastructure Maggie Sandison told members: “The air ambulance pays four members of staff to be on standby to ensure that Tingwall Airport is available 24/7 year round,” said Mrs Sandison.

“For us to hold an event … we’d have to close the airport and that means we’d not be able to accept any traffic – and that includes air ambulance traffic.”

Figures contained in a report showed a total of 53 landings were made at Tingwall by the air ambulance last year. Of those, 26 were outside normal operating hours.

Tingwall has already been used twice by Shetland Motorsport Club, after objections brought a halt to previous events in Unst.

But political leader Gary Robinson told members he hoped some arrangement could be made which would allow events to take place in the future.

“We should try to work with the motorsport club to see if we can find an alternative for them. If they want to test their cars to the limit it’s best that it is done off the public highway.”

His comments came after members were told the staging of motor sport events could hasten the deterioration of the airstrip. The last quotation for relaying the runway – received several years ago – indicated a cost of £150,000.

Jonathan Wills recalled times past when golfers used the Sumburgh airstrip – “we’d shout ‘fore’ and a plane would land” – and learner drivers would practise their skills at Scatsta.

He cited motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson who, he said, uses an “abandoned RAF field” for high-speed thrills.

“This is an excellent recommendation. I can’t imagine it would take us long to write and explain to say ‘no’.”

Members were told the emergency aircraft would normally give 90 minutes notice before landing outside opening hours.

However, Mrs Sandison said the airport would have to turn away emergencies if events were accommodated on the airstrip.

Theo Smith worried that members were “hamstrung” by “bureaucratic nonsense”. But chairman Allan Wishart said public safety had to be considered.

“It comes back to risks,” he told fellow members.

However he praised the motorsport club for the “professional” manner in which it had approached the matter. The club had submitted a four-page response to a risk assessment report.

“All credit to the motorsport club because they have been quite professional in the way they’ve approached this,” Mr Wishart said.

“They have been very courteous and have done everything they can. But at the end of the day this is a risk that only needs one emergency that goes wrong. That’s not a thing I’d like to live with if an aircraft couldn’t get in on time.”

David Sandison noted there had been only two landings per weekend day at Tingwall over the last two years.

He worried the “low level” of use indicated the committee was “going a step too far in restricting opportunities for others”.

Robert Henderson insisted he kept an “open mind”, but moved the recommendation be approved.

“I don’t think we are in a position where we can compromise the health and well-being of any person in Shetland.” He was seconded by Dr Wills.

• More reaction to this story in Friday’s Shetland Times.

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Free bin bags scheme dumped Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:18:09 +0000 The days when households are issued with free essy bags could well be a thing of the past, following council moves to stop issuing black bags without charge.

A report before councillors has outlined plans to end the supply of refuse sacks free of charge to homes in a bid to save the council almost £25,000 as part of its major belt-tightening exercise.

Members of today’s environment and transport committee backed calls to stop supplying 52 bags across 10,500 households in the isles each year.

Instead bags will be offered at a discounted price of £3.50, rather than the current £11 charged per box, if that is agreed by the full council next month.

Director of infrastructure Maggie Sandison said an opportunity had arisen to consider the “discretionary spend” on free black bags.

The cost of supplying the bags set the council back more than £23,000 in 2013/14. However, Mrs Sandison said the figure was closer to £30,000 when delivery time was factored into the equation.

“The cost of providing the sacks is £23,783, but that doesn’t take account of the 54 ‘man days’ needed to deliver the sacks,” she said.

Instead of being taken to individual addresses, Mrs Sandison said bags would be sold from rural shops to ensure everyone has access to them.

She added Shetland was one of just five local authorities in Scotland which still carries out weekly waste collections.

Questioned by George Smith, Mrs Sandison said the infrastructure’s £37 million budget covered essential services such as ferries, roads, burial grounds and refuse collections.

“Our budgets are now at a level where lifeline services struggle to be delivered and we have to look at discretionary elements of what we do.”

As alternatives to stopping the flow of essy bags Mrs Sandison said her department had considered other options, such as closing the landfill site earlier. However the ending of the public skip service last year had led to an increase in demand.

Other options, such as reducing the levels of street cleaning and reducing grass cutting at burial grounds had also been considered but were deemed unsuitable.

"No laughing matter": Jonathan Wills

Jonathan Wills – cut is an “unpleasant but necessary duty”.

 Jonathan Wills described the move as an “unpleasant but necessary duty”.

He asked whether progress was being made on the council composting its waste.

Mrs Sandison said composting failed to work properly on a municipal basis, because temperatures in Shetland mean the compost does not biodegrade as much as might be hoped.

She added the council was working with Zero Waste Scotland as part of an effort to find best ways of collecting rubbish. Consideration had been given to fortnightly collections. But Mrs Sandison said the isles benefited from the waste to heat energy plant at Gremista.

Robert Henderson was keen to ensure rural shops could gain some return for selling the bags

Fellow North Isles member Gary Cleaver sought an assurance that high-quality bags would be used.

Convener Malcolm Bell said £3.50 represented a “good deal”. He questioned whether the infrastructure department was satisfied it could cope with demand.

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Festival return excites Madison Violet Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:23:31 +0000 Having waited “five long years” to return to Shetland, Madison Violet are back for this year’s Shetland Folk Festival.

Singer-songwriter Lisa MacIsaac said she and her fellow band mates loved every second of their time in Shetland “from the moment we got off the ferry with our woozy heads, to the late night jams in the festival club, to the chicken pot pies we managed to score around 1am each night, to the final wave goodbye to the festival organisers from the water as we departed on our long journey back home.”

Madison Violet members Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac are excited about thier folk festival return. They are particularly looking forward to the trip to Fetlar.

Madison Violet members Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac are excited about thier folk festival return. They are particularly looking forward to the trip to Fetlar.

“We’re really happy to be coming back,” she told The Shetland Times.

“But the one thing we will miss dearly is spending time with our friend Davie Henderson. He made our time in Shetland most special, and I am sure he will be in everyone’s hearts and songs.”

Since their last visit, Madison Violet released the album The Good in Goodbye, as well as a live album and DVD recorded in Cologne.

This time they will be performing as a four-piece with drummer/lap steel player Christine Bougie and bass player Adrian Lawryshyn.

The sound, says MacIsaac is a “a little bigger and a little louder and a little more modern”.

But picking a standout gig from their last visit “would be like choosing your favourite child,” said MacIsaac.

“Because the festival runs so smoothly, the artists treated so well, and the seats all full, the gigs all felt like successes,” she said.

“Well, maybe the day that we played at several venues in one night stands out. I had no idea how the festival organisers would be able to pull it off.

“The seamless transitions of artists from one venue to another really blew us away. I don’t think we thought it possible.”

In a busy weekend the group will be returning to Fetlar, where last time they played on the island, MacIsaac said they left the stage “feeling exceptionally warm and welcomed”.

“The audience was so responsive to our music and gave back to us 110 per cent what we gave them,” she said.

“I recall a long bus ride as well, which makes for a school trip-like feel full of giddy musicians, all taking in the scenery.”

At their Fetlar gig on Friday, Madison Violet will be sharing the stage with Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, a group MacIsaac says she is particularly looking forward to seeing.

“I’m a sucker for melodic harmonised fiddle ballads and after some YouTube viewings, they seem to specialise in exactly that.”

Madison Violet will be performing their first evening concert in Scalloway on Thursday at 7.30pm.

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Man accused of making threats to kill Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:02:33 +0000 A man has been remanded in custody after being charged with brandishing a knife and threatening to kill in a Lerwick address.

Alexander Nicholson, 25, of Bathgate appeared in the dock in private before honorary sheriff Eric Peterson.

He made no plea after being charged with behaving in a threatening and abusive manner. Bail was refused.

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Blaze in airport freight shed Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:46:52 +0000 Firefighters were called to Sumburgh Airport this afternoon after a report of a freight shed on fire.

The alarm was raised at 12.41pm, and fire appliances from Sumburgh and Sandwick were called to the scene. Firefighters are using breathing apparatus while damping down the fire.

Departures have been delayed slightly – the 12.45pm flight to Glasgow was delayed to 1.30pm, and the 1.30pm Aberdeen flight was delayed to 1.45pm.

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NAFC hosts special guests to celebrate 20th anniversary Tue, 22 Apr 2014 11:46:10 +0000 Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Maritime & Coastguard Agency chief executive Sir Alan Massey will be among the guests attending a 20th anniversary celebration at the NAFC Marine Centre on Friday.

They will be joined by a wide range of representatives from national maritime organisations, industry, academia and Shetland Islands Council.

The purpose of the event is to highlight the important role the centre plays in supporting the seafood sector locally, nationally and internationally through its research, testing, training and services.

Willie Shannon

Willie Shannon

Interim director Willie Shannon said: “From humble beginnings, the NAFC Marine Centre has grown through the hard work of the staff here to become an institution that plays a huge and valuable role in supporting the seafood sector.

“That is recognised across the country, which is why we are delighted to be able to host so many distinguished guests for this celebratory event.

“But as well as marking the centre’s achievements, we will be looking forward to the next 20 years and to building on our strengths.”

Guests will hear from Mr Shannon, Mr Carmichael, University of the Highlands and Islands vice-principal Professor Ian Bryden, Merchant Navy Training Board head Glenys Jackson and Shetland Catch chairman John Goodlad.

Mrs Jackson said: “The centre’s officer cadet training programmes have been very important in ensuring and maintaining maritime expertise within Shetland for the benefit of the local community and the Highlands and Islands generally, as well as to local shipping interests.”

Mr Goodlad added: “Since its opening some 20 years ago the NAFC Marine Centre has underpinned much of the expansion, development and diversification of the Shetland seafood industry which has taken place over the last two decades.

“There is no question in my mind that the NAFC Marine Centre will be of even greater importance to the seafood industry over the next 20 years.”

More on the history of the marine centre and what it has achieved over two decades will be included in a special feature in Friday’s Shetland Times.

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‘Put brakes on airport motorsport proposal’ Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:21:59 +0000 Councillors will this week be urged not to allow motor sport events to take place at Tingwall Airport.

The environment and transport committee will consider a report on Wednesday recommending the council stops short of freeing up the airstrip for “non-aviation use”.

Key among concerns is the air ambulance, which can land at Tingwall at all times – even outwith normal operating hours when proposed motor sport events could be taking place.

Figures due to go before councillors show a total of 53 landings were made at Tingwall by the air ambulance last year. Of those 26 were outside normal operating hours.

Maggie Sandison said they could look at having to "skill up" existing staff.

Maggie Sandison said they could look at having to “skill up” existing staff.

The report says the staging of motor sport events could hasten the deterioration of the airstrip.

It adds that the last quotation for relaying the runway – received several years ago – indicated a cost of £150,000.

“Increasing usage of the runway would shorten the current lifespan,” the report by infrastructure director Maggie Sandison states.

“Roads engineers have inspected the runway and indicate the surface is showing signs of wear. They advise it would definitely be detrimental to the surface if motor racing was allowed on this surface.”

Other concerns focus on “tyre deposits” and rubber on the runway after the events.

The report also raises concerns highlighted in a risk assessment report about the nearby “large store” of aviation fuel, and the arrangements required to manage spectators and participants.

The Shetland Motorsport Club has submitted a four-page response to the risk assessment.

It states: “Any use of the airstrip introduces hazard but the risk of this can be controlled well within acceptable limits.

“Power take-offs are what we are carrying out. However, no wheel-spinning will be permitted on the runway. Hard braking and cornering is not required on a straight, long stretch of track as the final line is well within the airstrip’s length. The braking of any vehicle will be far less severe than an Islander aircraft.”

The item follows a previous report seeking permission to hire out airports in council ownership.

However, Mrs Sandison has highlighted “inaccuracies” in the terms and conditions attached to that report, which “substantially change” the consideration about putting in place arrangements for such events.

The report states: “Firstly the terms and conditions indicated that Tingwall Airport will not be operating as a licensed aerodrome at the time of any motorsport event. This is incorrect. Tingwall Airport is a CAA-licensed aerodrome. It will remain a licensed aerodrome even when a motor sport event is occurring.

“The proposed events would occur outside the published opening times. When Tingwall Airport is closed, it remains a licensed aerodrome. Tingwall Airport accepts movements outside its normal operating hours, most particularly from the air ambulance.”

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Record entries for young fiddler event Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:47:59 +0000 Competition organisers Vaila Grant and Valerie Watt are presented with the Catgut and Ivory Trophy by Cecil Hughson and Gussie Angus from the BBC Radio Shetland programme of the same name.

Competition organisers Vaila Grant and Valerie Watt are presented with the Catgut and Ivory Trophy by Cecil Hughson and Gussie Angus from the BBC Radio Shetland programme of the same name.

Shetland Folk Society Young Fiddler of the Year competition will be held this weekend at the Garrison Theatre with a record number of entries.

There has been a particular increase in entries in the junior sections (for children up to and including primary six).

The competition kicks off with the junior competitors on Friday morning and the intermediate competitors on Friday afternoon.  The Young Fiddler Open competition will be held on Saturday.

This year there is a record 154 entries from 110 fiddlers.  This is a further increase on record entries last year from 102 fiddlers.

The finals concert will be held on Saturday night in the Garrison Theatre. The prize-winning junior and intermediate fiddlers will perform and the open competitors will play for a final time in front of the judges Claire White, Peter Gear and Lois Nicol.

Bryan Gear joins tune competition judges Violet Tulloch and Debbie Scott to play the winning entries from this year’s competition.  There will also be guest appearances from Callum Watt, Young Fiddler of the Year 2013, and Mike Laurenson, Junior Young Musician of the Year.

Organiser Vaila Grant said: “We are delighted to have a new trophy to present this year for the best played reel. We are very grateful to Gussie Angus and Cecil Hughson for donating the Catgut and Ivory Trophy and look forward to presenting it to the player of the best reel over the two days.”

Folk Society member Valerie Watt added: “We are thrilled to see so many entries, particularly in the junior section.  The competition is not just about identifying winners but also about ensuring our musical heritage is preserved.

“With so many young fiddlers playing Shetland tunes for the competition we can be reassured our traditional music is safe in their hands.”

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