Isles Views 04.09.09

Housing shortage

Yell Community Council is very concerned by the lack of affordable housing in the isle, a major factor in the fact that Yell is losing population.

Yell is a big island and it still has a population of around 950 so therefore the loss of 10 or a dozen folk is not as noticeable as it is on a small isle like Fetlar.

Nevertheless the community council urgently wants to arrest the decline and that is an impossible dream without houses either to retain the young folk already in Yell or for attracting incoming families. Hjaltland Housing Association had plans to build new houses in Cullivoe but they never materialised and folk question whether they will ever be built.

One community council member said the folk needing affordable housing often did not apply because the chances of being successful was so remote that an application was a waste of time. Another member said he knew of two families who found the application forms so difficult to fill in that they proceeded no further.

Chairman Dan Thompson said that as things stood at the moment the only hope young people had of getting a home was if they could afford to build a new house.

Councillor Laura Baisley, who represents the North Isles on the SIC housing strategy group, emphasised the importance of applications being submitted to show that the need, and the demand, existed.

Ms Baisley said she was very willing to help anyone who was experiencing difficult in completing the form. Another source of help with form filling is the Initiative at the Edge office in Sellafirth.

Befriending scheme

Shetland Befriending Scheme continues to grow providing one-to-one support for children and young people aged from seven to 25 across Shetland.

The increasing demand for the service Shetland-wide has led them to organise a pilot volunteer recruitment drive concentrated in the North Mainland.

Working in partnership with Adult Learning the training is being advertised in the new edition of the adult learning booklet and is directed to anyone over 18 with an interest in volunteering for the scheme living anywhere between Voe and Unst.

To accommodate the travelling arrangements of those interested in the North Isles, training will take place in Brae over four weekends and travel expenses will be offered to anyone taking part.

Anyone interested can be assured that the contents will be exactly the same as those provided in the regular training sessions in Lerwick. Everyone taking part will be assessed to work with vulnerable young people on a one-to-one basis and training will be able to highlight and develop transferable skills for those interested in working in the education or care sector.

The training sessions will include: role of the befriender; boundaries and confidentially; working with challenging behaviour and personal safety; child development; child protection; autism awareness; anti-discriminatory practice; endings of a befriending relationship.

There are only 12 places for this pilot experience and those interested can contact Roberto Getto at the scheme on (01595) 743946. To make more folk aware of the scheme Mr Getto attended the Unst Show at the weekend. He said that the show was a great opportunity to promote the recruitment drive in the North Isles and he looked forward to doing the same thing at the Yell Show tomorrow.

Housing in Whalsay

A need for housing has also been identified in Whalsay, with Hjaltland Housing Association member John Dally concerned that not everyone with housing needs is making an application.

To pinpoint the problem Mr Dally has put up notices in local shops, ferries and other public places, inviting Whalsay people who are experiencing difficulty in finding housing to contact him. He will then pass this information on the association.

Mr Dally added, however, that it was unlikely that Whalsay would see any new houses built in the next five years. He described the process as a “chicken and egg” situation. Some saw it as pointless to apply when there was nothing to apply for but on the other hand until applications were made, and the demand demonstrated, there was no chance of houses being built.

Members of Whalsay Community Council agreed that the need was there and one member confirmed that he had been approached by “a few people” who were indeed experiencing problems. Members also agreed that with the changing needs of society there was now more demand for one and two-person houses.

Dog fouling

While dog fouling has been a problem in some places for a long time it came more sharply into focus during this year’s Voar Redd Up.

The beautiful beach at Westsandwick in Yell was found to be very polluted indeed. It was so bad that one young mother said that she could never allow her child to play there again.

Since the spring numerous ideas have been put forward but everyone agrees that the ultimate responsibility lies with dog owners. Plastic bags are available and the SIC waste management department is willing to provide a bin at the beach but not until some organisation or individual takes responsibility for emptying it.

Anyone who is willing to do this unpleasant but necessary task could put the contents of the bin among other bruck to be collected weekly and this might go some way to solving the problem at Westsandwick. Other areas plagued by the same problem could have bins erected subject to the same conditions.

Fetlar graveyard

Throughout the North Isles graveyards have been given a new look, improved access, enlargement and enclosed with dry stone dykes, with Fetlar the latest to receive this treatment.

The graveyard surrounds the kirk and overlooks the beautiful beach at Tresta, a wonderful setting. The contractor doing the work is FLJ and owner Frank Johnson said the job had gone well but was a long way from being complete.
Adam Cunnyngham-Brown, the dry stone dyke specialist, is building the perimeter wall. There is no easy or quick way of doing this and machinery is of little or no help. Drystane dykeing is an ancient, traditional skill and it is good to know that the art is still being practiced.

In this case the stones from two derelict houses are being recycled. Mr Johnson said he was somewhat surprised that he required a building warrant before he was allowed to demolish the old buildings.

Ulsta ferry terminal

Despite the best efforts of the SIC ferry services the marshalling area at Ulsta terminal continues to cause problems.
Lanes three and four are reserved for booked cars but there are nothing to inform motorists as to which lane will be loaded first. In the mornings especially there are those who arrive early because they want to be first on the ferry and therefore first off so as to have a clear road ahead and avoid the possibility of being held up behind slow traffic.

However, without knowing which lane is to be loaded first an early arrival might yield no reward. The marshalling has been criticised for this and some motorists towing caravans say they have been guided into spaces that are too tight.

It is the unbooked lane that continues to cause the biggest problem of all. It consists of a single, horseshoe shaped lane that, in theory, can stretch back forever. However, it is vitally important that vehicles do not queue in the crook of the horseshoe. If they do this they block access to the booked lanes and chaos ensues.

This area was clearly marked “Keep Clear” but this did not prevent some, not only from entering, but jumping the queue of those waiting in the correct place. Now the area is even more clearly marked with yellow diagonal lines, which should eliminate any ambiguity. Even so there are still the mavericks that will not respect the rules.

It is somewhat hard to see what more can be done short of employing a marshal to control the marshalling area. Many people say the situation is a road rage incident waiting to happen.

Old Haa exhibition

The highly-acclaimed exhibition by Jeanette Novak has been removed from the gallery of the Old Haa in Burravoe to make way for the final exhibition of the season. This is a collection of photographs, all with a Shetland theme, by Vaila Cumming.

Meanwhile the showcases are filled by woodturnings by Angus Macleod from Whiteness. His work shows great variety with many different woods being used to make bowls and smaller items.

Lawrence Tulloch


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