Letter from Edinburgh 01.08.08

WELL if I thought that running for the leadership was stressful there is something even more so! The senior Scott child is learning to drive. Thankfully there is now a 10 acre field which has been shorn of grass. So a perfect and large practice area. I requested permission from David as he rolled the silage pit. With a grin he consented, pointing out that we all had to learn to drive and a large silage park was the perfect and safe place. But if a strainer got felled by an erratic manoeuvre then the repair would have to be effected by those responsible! In reality oldest child is showing considerable aptitude for driving. So much so that grandfather has now been delegated to provide more advanced lessons although still in the silage park, ie. how to get into third gear.

On Wednesday the bells tolled. During a break from an endless task of grass strimming I heard the Norseman’s Home and Happy Birthday wafting across Bressay sound. To mark the 125th anniversary of the Town Hall’s construction, the council laid on some entertainment.

Gussie Angus gave an historical account of the building which must have been quite an undertaking given its size all those years ago. He also pointed out that the project ran over budget and a local whip round was successful in filling the shortfall. However the committee of the day had no contingency to pay for the ongoing running costs so there seemed to have been an attitude revolving around the desirability of the Town Council picking up any costs that might be incurred. There did seem one or two modern day parallels to that decision!

When I was first a councillor I was a member of the Town Hall sub-committee chaired by the redoubtable Bill Smith. It was splendid to see him at the Town Hall on Wednesday night and I confess we had news about the current state of politics.

The Gardie pier has needed some pointing work done for a period of time so this week meant cement, boots on and a productive afternoon in the ebb. As we pointed the old stonework, I thought of Laurence Tulloch’s piece about the Gutcher pier and its state of disrepair.

The Sandsayre pier, used by visitors to Mousa, is another where considerable sums of money need to be spent on making good and safe. These elderly structures are so much of Shetland’s nautical heritage that preserving them, especially where they can be used for local people and visitors, has to be desirable. But the upkeep of such structures is time-consuming and costly so if there is no commercial return then who picks up the bill? If the pier is privately owned then it is clear, but where they used to be ferry links for flit boats and the like, then it would be good to see a fighting fund to help local committees retain these assets.

As I finish this note, the car has returned – there are no scratches and no fence posts knocked down!

Tavish Scott


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