by Lawrence Tulloch
Pay phone problems
AS WE have already reported many pay phones in the North Isles were converted to being cards only. The rigmarole of making a call from those kiosks is such that most folk turned away when they realised that coins were not taken.
Protests came from community councils and, as if by magic, some of them were returned, re-converted to take coins again. It seems that it was never the policy of BT to make every pay phone card only; the fact that so many were changed came about by mistake.
The person making the changes was off sick and the deputy was not told which to convert and which to leave alone. BT spokeswoman Louise Henshaw apologised for the mix up and she explained why it was the policy of BT to favour card only pay phones.
With card only kiosks there is no money to collect and because of this a saving is made. The maintenance is lower too because a very common fault is that coins jam and an engineer has to be sent to clear the blockage.
Ms Henshaw was unwilling to concede that the cashless pay phones had lesser usage. None of them, she said, were much used but BT had an obligation to keep them in place and from their point of view it is a case of doing so as cheaply as possible.
She pointed out that all emergency calls and 0800 calls are free and many different cards may be used in making a call. However, there is no slot where a card can be inserted, all the details have to be read out and this can take some time.
It is not clear why some pay phones take coins while others are cashless but it seems that kiosks considered to be in key locations, like near ferry terminals, are the ones left as coin operated.
Whalsay netball club
The Whalsay Junior Netball Club continues to be strong with over 50 members from primary four to under-18.
The netball season runs from the beginning of September until the end of March. The lasses took part in a sponsored walk in June to raise money for their new jackets.
Last winter the under-13 and under-15 teams took part in the Shetland Junior Netball Development Group. Both teams played well and their impeccable behaviour made them splendid ambassadors for Whalsay.
Three teams contested the annual Christmas Shield; in a close competition the Red team captained by Audrey Irvine were the winners in the junior section and in the seniors the Blue team captained by Lizzie Ward Smith came out on top.
Shelly Sandison and Vicky Irvine joined other Shetland netballers on a trip to Dundee to play in a development tournament and this proved to be a valuable experience. Victoria Duthie and Vicky Irvine were successful in making the final squad for the junior inter-county. Netball leaders want to thank everyone who supported the teams and they look forward to another successful season.
The annual Yell agricultural show takes place tomorrow and show secretary Johnina Henderson says that entries are much the same as last year.
The poultry entries are slightly down but the entries for wool has increased. Entries for livestock are open to all of the North Isles.
Judges from all parts of Shetland from Unst to the South Mainland will be on duty and the showfield champion judge will be Rod MacKenzie, secretary of the Black Isle Show and Shetland Marts auctioneer.
The inside section of the show is open to anyone and entries can be brought in tonight between 7pm and 9pm and again tomorrow morning from 8.30am until 9am, but no entries will be accepted after that.
Side shows open at noon, as well as fish ‘n’ chips, a tearoom and a barbecue. A large number of trade stands are booked and a visit from the Nesting Guizer Jarl’s Squad is expected around 2pm.
The Cancer Research shop in Aywick will be open from 10am tomorrow; manager Penny Williams says that in the event of a wet day (perish the thought) it will be another alternative for show goers. Johnina says that she is hoping for a better day, weather wise, than last year, free of rain, wind and midges.
The late Hazel McIvor
Many folk in the North Isles and beyond, but especially in Fetlar, are deeply saddened by the news of the death of Hazel McIvor.
Hazel, née Thomason, was 51 years old and had fought a long and brave fight against cancer. This bad news comes only a few weeks after the death of John Henderson of Gloup, also a cancer victim. The two of them were friends, they kept in touch, and they supported each other in coping with their terminal illnesses.
Hazel had strong Cullivoe connections; her mother is Ann Jane Tulloch from North Brough, who met her husband, Tommy Thomason from Fetlar when she went to Brough Lodge to work for Sir Arthur Nicholson. The entire community extends their sympathy to Ann Jane, all the family and to all those close to Hazel.
Old Haa exhibition
In the Old Haa the final exhibition of the season was put on display last weekend.
As usual it comes in two parts, a wall exhibition and craft objects on show in the cabinets. In the cabinets is felt crafts by Pauline Walsh entitled Bizzie Wappit. According to John Graham’s dictionary this is “hair felted like a bizzie”. It includes slippers, scarves and key rings.
On the walls the artwork is mixed media by Kharis Leggate and it is entitled Boat Noosts. The exhibition runs until 28th September when the Old Haa closes for the season. However, on 13th September the trustees put on the annual end of season social night in the Burravoe Hall.
A long time supporter of this event is Allan Tulloch from Whalsay. Born a Yell man he will bring a number of musical friends with him and they will be ably backed up by local artistes. On that night there will be a soup and sandwich supper and the big raffle will be drawn. It all kicks off at 7.30pm.
The paintings by Adam Robson, owned by the Old Haa, has now been returned after being on loan for the wonderful exhibition of Adam’s work displayed in the Shetland Museum in Lerwick earlier in the summer.
Adam’s mother came from Cullivoe and that area was his first love on his frequent visits to Shetland. To visit the exhibition was to hear folk with North Yell accents enthusing about the many paintings that featured familiar scenes and people.
Fixed links to the North Isles or what?
At recent meetings of STAG in Uyeasound and Fetlar the turnout was described by Emma Perring as “good”.
At both meetings they were able to draw together recommendations. At this stage the ferry option and the fixed link option, for Bluemull Sound, is finely balanced as to which is preferred. The outcome very much depends on the assumptions being made in regard to fuel costs and the level of fares.
To ensure that right conclusions are reached some extra time is to be taken to consider the options. Discussion will take place with Transport Scotland and a report should be ready for the end of September.
Meanwhile SIC transport head Michael Craigie visited Yell Community Council and quoted some interesting figures for the cost of fixed links to the isles.
It is no great surprise that costs are expected to be much higher than originally stated five years ago. The latest technical studies in Shetland show that the cost of a tunnel to Whalsay would be £111 million, £90m for Yell Sound and £63m for Bluemull Sound.
The increase is due to the complex geology of routes so costs similar to those for tunnels in Norway and Faroe cannot be achieved here. Mr Craigie went on to explain that the rock structure in Shetland is much denser and it will take far longer to drill through.
The SIC, Mr Craigie said, is still committed in principle to fixed links as an alternative to ferry services and committed to sustaining the remote communities and they are well aware that this requires sustainable transport links. However, there was not much European funding available for such projects and the council has to look to the Scottish Government for the necessary money.
They have been advised to bring their business case forward but there is no commitment from the government, because there are various large transport projects from other Highlands and Islands councils to be considered.
A modest toll for tunnels would help to attract interest from finance companies, it would encourage them loan money to build the tunnels. A toll fee would, over a long period, give a guaranteed revenue stream and a modest toll would be less than the rising ferry fares.