It may hardly seem credible, but trams could put in an appearance in Lerwick within the next three years if a list of projects which went before councillors this week are given the go-ahead.
Members of the planning committee heard the use of trams to access the town centre was one of a number of “medium term” priorities being put forward as part of a joint action plan.
The proposals follow input from the Lerwick Old Town Development Association, Lerwick Port Authority, Shetland Amenity Trust and the Town Centre Association as well as some members of the community council.
The draft list of projects due for completion by the end of 2012 contains a number of recommendations, including the identification of potential redevelopment sites, extra conservation measures and the long-lippened removal of the unwanted oil tanks at North Ness.
Measures in the shorter term range from a review of the pedestrianisation of Commercial Street to tackling the scourge of discarded chewing gum and cigarette butts.
The measures are part of the Lerwick Town Centre Action plan, which aims to create a vibrant, sustainable and high quality town centre.
However Scalloway councillor Iris Hawkins said she thought she would have to get out her magnifying glass to check she was seeing things right when she saw one bullet-point recommending the use of trams to access the town centre.
She said recent experience in Edinburgh, where major disruption has been caused in the city by construction work for the introduction of a tram system, meant Shetland would have to be very wary of going down the same track.
“With all the controversy that there has been in Edinburgh I couldn’t quite believe I was seeing things right,” she said.
Instead, she advocated something which, on the face of it, seems just as unusual – the installation of a glass roof over Commercial Street.
Such an idea has been raised before, albeit as part of an April Fool story in <i>The Shetland Times</i> several years ago, meaning the phrase “you couldn’t make it up” may be slightly redundant.
However Mrs Hawkins insisted there was mileage in the plan, which would help the street compete on an even level with the Toll Clock.
“If Commercial Street wants to compete with the Toll Clock it would have to be covered. The beauty of the Toll Clock is it’s all enclosed – it makes sense.”