Times Past

25 Years Ago

British Telecom is increasing its staff in the Isle of Man while closing down manual exchanges in other isolated communities, including Shetland. Mr Mike Gerrard, the chief executive of SIC said this amounted to discrimination against Shetland.

He said he had discovered from a report in The Financial Times that BT’s chairman had offered to set up an independent Manx subsidiary if BT was awarded the telecommuni­cations franchise in the island from 1987. Following complaints that the service was run from Liverpool, BT had opened new headquarters in the Isle of Man and is transferring 32 jobs from the mainland, bringing staff to 160.

“This is a scandal,” Mr Gerrard said. “I am astonsished it is possible to increase staff in the Isle of Man, apparently as a gimmick to keep the franchise, at the same time to do the complete opposite in Shetland. The whole thing is deplorable.”

Mr Gerrard said the council would be raising the matter again with the BT chairman, who had not yet responded to the invitation to come to Shetland and see for himself the extent of public feeling about the closure of the Lerwick exchange, with the loss of 23 jobs.

A spokesman for BT said as far as he was aware the decision to close the Lerwick exchange was final and would probably take effect about March 1987.

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A 500lb wartime bomb was blown up by the Royal Navy in the entrance to Sullom Voe on Wednesday afternoon.

The port was closed for an hour and a half and loading interrupted for 30 minutes as a team of divers from a bomb disposal squad at Rosyth placed charges and carried out a controlled explosion.

The bomb was discovered on 30th October in a routine inspection by divers of moorings for No. 5 channel marker buoy just east of Gluss Isle.

Captain George Sutherland, the SIC’s depute director of ports and harbours, said that even the deepest laden tankers would have had seven metres clearance if they had sailed right over the bomb.

50 Years Ago

The views of members of the Lerwick branch of the British Legion and those of their president Mr W.K. Conochie have clashed on the importance of priority claims by ex-servicemen when certain jobs are filled.

According to the branch chair­man, Mr J. R. Gair, Mr Conochie’s attitude is that it is a long time since the war ended and priority claims should be dropped. But the branch feels that as long as it remains an organisation formed to further the interests of ex-servicemen it must fight for ex-servicemen’s rights.

The matter arose out of the filling of a clerical vacancy by the Terri­torial Army Association. The branch understood that about half the fourteen applicants were ex-servicemen, but one who did not serve got the job.

The branch wrote to the Associ­ation asking if the principle of giving preference to ex-servicemen had been abandoned – stressing they had nothing against the individual who got the job but they felt a matter of priniciple was involved.

The Association replied that it always appointed an ex-serviceman if possible but there were other qualifications to be considered.

100 Years Ago

Shetland Women’s Suffrage Society – Report on the Year’s Working – The Secretary submitted the following: – On October 23, 1909, this Society was founded to work for Women’s Suffrage on constitutional, peaceful, and non-party lines. We have been handi­capped from the start by the fact that none of our members are public speakers. We cannot hold meetings ourselves as a means of propaganda, and our want of means prevents us from bringing speakers from the south. The Society began work, therefore, by distributing literature, seeing that the question of Women’s Suffrage was discussed both in private circles and in the local press, and by individual effort endeavour­ing to secure the co-operation of electors. We have placed “The Com­mon Cause,” the organ of the move­ment, in the Public Reading-Room, and arranged that suffrage literature should be stocked by the local book­sellers. Suffrage literature has been circulated and sold among the mem­bers, many of whom felt their first need was a knowledge of the scope of the movement. It was per­haps owing more to the Lady Stout con­troversy than to the Society that Women’s Suffrage has been fairly well kept to the front in the local papers, in which articles, paragraphs, and letters have from time to time appeared. At the general election the Society as­certained the views of both candi­dates, and saw that Women’s Suffrage had a place in their addresses. As neither candidate was satisfactory on the subject, the Society worked for neither, but did propaganda work by sending out circulars and literature; and in the newspapers attention was called to the special claims of Shetland women to the franchise. A contri­bution was sent to the election fund of the National Union. In July, our Society both as a body and as in­dividuals, appealed to Mr Wason to support Mr Shackleton’s bill, or at least to refrain from voting against it. Many of the electors also wrote to him. Mr Wason replied that he could “not see eye to eye” with us in the matter. He voted against the Bill. In July our society was incorporated with the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies, to which Federation we have as yet contributed nothing.  It was this Federation that sent Miss Lamond, one of its organisers, to lecture in these islands under the auspices of this Society. She held successful meetings in Lerwick, Scalloway, Baltasound, and other places, and produced an effect most favourable to the cause. Coming from the active centre of the movement, she impres­sed her hearers with a sense of its strong vitality and deep importance, and by the way she acquitted herself in public she showed what an untapped reserve price the nation has in the capacities of its women.


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