Times Past 03.10.08


An application for planning permission to build a mink farm at Scarfataing, Trondra, was rejected by Shetland Islands Council on Wednesday.

One hundred letters of objection to the development had come from individuals and organisations in Shetland, Orkney, the rest of Britain and from as far away as Hawaii, Switzerland, Norway and North America. Only one letter was received in support of the application, from the Fur Breeders Association in London.

There were 10 main objections in the letters to the proposed development by Mr Watt: the high risk of escape; the risk that mink would become established in the wild; the adverse effect on wildlife generally; the adverse effects on seabirds in particular; the adverse effects on ground nesting birds; the possible adverse effects on fishing and fish farming; the adverse effect on farming, for example poultry and lambs; the deliberate release by vandalism or “animal rights” organisations; objections to the principle of keeping animals for fur and the smell.

Mr Gordon Mann told councillors that with one exception, that of being opposed in principle to the keeping of animals, all the other objections were valid planning reasons. He said he had no hesitation in recommending that the application be refused.


The drunk Polish fisherman who threw a playful puppy into Lerwick harbour two months ago, to the great annoyance of many local people who witnessed the incident, has been sacked by his company, blacklisted by all other Polish fishing companies, and will probably be prosecuted in his native land!

At the weekend Provost W. K. Conochie received a letter addressed to “The Mayor, Lerwick, England”. It was from the man’s employers, and stated: “It is with deepest regret that we present our apologies for the deplorable incident that happened at Lerwick at the end of July, 1958. As we have read, a fisherman from our M. T. Myszolow, being in a drunken state, threw a harmless dog into the harbour basin.

“We can inform you now that the name of the wrongdoer is Wladyslaw Rucinski. We beg to inform you also that after the news have reached us, master of Myszolow, according to given orders, sent Mr Rucinski to Poland.

“Because this man is not worthy to represent a Polish fishing community he lost his job at our company immediately. Furthermore, the matter was sent to the public prosecutor. It was agreed with other Polish fishing companies that Mr Rucinski will get no employment at any of these companies.”

But many people feel that this treatment is much too harsh.

Provost Conochie has, in fact, replied to the letter, suggesting that the punishment is too harsh. His letter stated: “While this foolish act was deplored by the populace, it was recognised that the man was not in possession of all his faculties at the time, and I assure you that the people here would not wish that he be unduly harshly punished or deprived of his livelihood.

“It has been our experience that Polish fishermen, for the most part, conduct themselves very well while in Lerwick. Being a fishing community ourselves we welcome your vessels in port, and would not wish that this single incident should alienate the good relations between our peoples.”


There can be no doubt about the boon which the old people of Shetland consider the Old Age Pension scheme of the Government. A big supply of application forms was received at the Lerwick Post Office, and in the closing days of last week applicants came trooping in. Mr Bunker, postmaster, had kindly placed a clerk at the disposal of applicants to fill up their forms and otherwise assist them.

Among the applicants there were not a few pathetic cases. In one case an old woman, who had no means of support, was in receipt of fifteen-pence a week from the Parish Council, and she had to be denied. In another case, an old Lerwick woman, who, through advanced years and infirmity was unable to assist herself in any way, was debarred from the pension because her rent was paid off the rates. These are, no doubt, great hardships meantime, but they will perhaps be removed in the near future.

By Monday evening the supply of forms had given out. There had been a total of 1919 forms filled up or handed to sub-post offices for that purpose, while no fewer than 234 had been given to applicants in Lerwick, and on Tuesday morning applicants had to be told to “call again”.

It is far too soon to speculate what this pension will mean to the islands as a whole, but supposing the 234 applicants from Lerwick alone (leaving out those who applied after Monday) were successful in securing the full pension, it would mean an annual payment of something like £3042 to the deserving poor, or a payment of £58 10s a week. Comment on such a scheme is unnecessary.

This (Friday) morning a fresh supply of Old Age Pension forms was received at the Lerwick Post Office. Applicants who want forms should not delay in asking for these at the Post Office.


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