11th December 2018
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Isles Views

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Mid Yell bypass

The new road that was intended to ease traffic congestion entering and leaving Mid Yell on the north side continues to cause concern and dissatisfaction. Yell Community Council has discussed the bypass on a number of occasions and members point out that they are being not wise after the event; they voiced concerns at the design stage but their concerns went unheeded.

It is where the new road merges with the old existing road that the problems arise. At the Mid Yell side the new, double wide road comes out on to a single track road and big vehicles like articulated lorries are obliged to cross the white middle line of the road in order to make the turn.

The general call is for the old road from the Hilltop Bar to the Mid Yell Hall to be made double width. It has been pointed out that this would be a “substantial road improvement scheme” and will require a large budget. YCC has called for the double width road to be from the junction to the hall but not all the way up to the Hilltop Bar and agrees that this has to be put on to the capital programme.

Things are not entirely satisfactory at the other end of the new road either because large vehicles have to give way, pull in and stop to allow traffic coming through the double width cattle grid to pass. There are calls for this piece of road, which connects to the old road at the top of the Ness of Gardie, to be widened as well.

Mid Yell is the biggest area of population in Yell. It is where much of the island’s infrastructure is to be found. The Junior High and Primary School, with a new school under construction, the police station, the health centre and the leisure centre are all to be found there and it is a centre for the fish farming and the fish processing industries.

All this adds up to a substantial amount of traffic ranging from small family cars to the biggest of articulated trucks using the road. The road at the north end of the village is by far the busiest because this is the road that all vehicles use if they are going to or from any of the ferry terminals.

BBC News school report

Students from Baltasound Junior High School have been brushing up on their reporting skills with a little help from BBC Radio Shetland presenter Jane Moncrieff.

Using lesson plans and materials from the BBC website, and with first-hand support from Jane, who visited the school, students are developing their journalistic skills to become school reporters.

On 11th March, 70 Scottish schools will take part in a UK-wide news day, simultaneously creating video, audio and text-based news reports and publishing them on their own school website, to which the BBC aims to link.

During the day students and their work may be featured on the BBC’s various news outlets on TV, radio and online including Reporting Scotland, Newsdrive, The News Channel, Breakfast News, the One O’clock News, the Six O’clock News and Newsround. The school report website will also become a TV channel and a radio station streaming pupils’ news reports and coverage of school-based activities throughout the school day, available via the BBC’s red button service.

This year schools are also attempting to set the world record for the largest interactive weather report. To help with this, pupils from the school will be taking the temperature at 9.15 am and submitting it to BBC Weather who will be compiling it into a weather report. Laurence Robertson from Unst Community Council will be along to verify the readings.

BBC News presenter and former teacher Huw Edwards is working on school report along with BBC Scotland presenters Gary Robertson, Glenn Campbell and David Currie.

Huw Edwards said: “Over the years I’ve run many journalism workshops in schools. So I’ve seen how much fun it can be and how much can be learnt when there are real deadlines, real audiences and real standards to meet. I’m involved because I want to give young people the chance to make the news themselves, and I want to share the principles of good journalism.”

BBC Scotland’s Gary Robertson said: “I’m really looking forward to school news report and delighted to be involved again this year. It’s a great project which gives youngsters across Scotland an insight into broadcasting and news gathering. Coming up with the ideas for news stories, interviewing guests and putting together finished reports will hopefully inspire the journalists of tomorrow.”

Yell ambulance

The local ambulance driver in Yell has been advised by SIC roads department that the access road to the shed where the ambulance is kept cannot always be cleared of snow and gritted. This is because the gritter has had difficulty in getting back on to the main road.

This has caused major concerns. The ambulance is a lifeline service and it cannot be left parked beside the main road as the old vehicle used to be. This is a new ambulance and it must be plugged into the mains electricity supply at all times when not in use.

The SIC has said that the road in question will be gritted as best it can be for the time being but it was described as “quite awkward and difficult” and the access road should be reviewed by the Scottish Ambulance Service. SIC further suggests that this issue be looked at more closely when the present period of winter weather has passed.

Yell Community Council said that a solution should be put in place as soon as possible and suggested that if the access cannot be reviewed then the Scottish Ambulance Service should cover the expense of laying an electrical extension cable to a suitable parking point for the ambulance at the main road.

Sustainability

Every year as part of their cross-curricular programme S1 and S2 pupils at Baltasound Junior High School work together to produce a DVD focusing on a sustainability issue relevant to the island of Unst.

In the past they have made films about rising sea levels and coastal erosion, climate change, wildlife and the possibilities for self-sufficiency in food production. This year they are focused on how technology could potentially help to reduce the carbon footprint and enable the island to become more sustainable specifically in the area of learning, working and transport.

The 17th February was the main off-timetable day for this. Pupils were split into groups and set up as teams of “remote” workers using the GLOW intranet and email. Pupils gained firsthand experience of how technology can affect learning and work by carrying out an interview by video-conference with Shetland’s carbon reduction officer in Lerwick. Pupils also had to use email to communicate, make phone calls, set up conference calls, fax information, post information on GLOW discussion boards and find information on the internet.

As part of the day groups also interviewed Mike Smith who is Unst’s community powerdown fficer, Josie McMillan and Paul Goddard about studying and learning at the North Isles Learning Centre, Catriona Waddington about remote working and Michael Rae at his zero-carbon house. Pupils also visited the engine room of one of the Bluemull Sound ferries and the remote working offices at the Heritage Centre.

Various other members of the community responded to pupils by telephone or email. Without the support of those people the project could not go ahead so they want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped. The day went well but the editing of the film has been postponed because of the snow.

Photographs

I am always grateful for all the photographs sent to me by readers of The Shetland Times. It is not possible to use them all but over time they are a valuable contribution to my column as well as to the paper in general. They all go into my collection of photos and may well prove to be exactly what is needed some time in the future.

Photographers go to a great deal of trouble like climbing hills to get the best shots, and what shots they are. In the recent past my old friend Keith Nisbet has been very productive. Keith is a skipper on the Bluemull Sound ferries and he has a good eye for what makes a fine picture.

Recently his photo of the sunrise over Fetlar was stunning and while snow scenes this winter have become rather too plentiful his images of scenes near his home in North-a-Voe are striking. Views of the old empty house of Kaywick with Kay Holm, Hascosay with Fetlar in the background are particularly memorable.

To Keith and everyone who sends images I say a sincere thanks, even if the photos are never used they are appreciated nonetheless.

Lawrence Tulloch