Times Past

25 Years Ago

The teachers’ strike to date has had only a minimal effect on children’s education, but the teachers’ union, EIS, is pacing itself for a long drawn-out struggle and hopes parents will support its case.

That was the message from the EIS at meetings of parents and teachers in the Anderson High School and Mid Yell this week. For the vast majority of schools in Scotland, [they said], the most seri­ous consequence of the strike was the EIS’s boycott of work on new courses. Teachers had also decided against any involvement in extra-curricular activities, and when and if the dispute was settled there was a chance that many teachers could have fallen out of the habit of being involved in these activities.

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The health board document on civil defence throws considerable light on the role of local government in a nuclear attack on Shetland.

SIC’s powers and functions would be vested in a small emer­gency committee of elected mem­bers “advising” the chief executive, who would become “district con­troller” under emergency legis­lation.

This committee, says Mr David March, general manager of Shetland Health Board, “would leave the day to day operational decision to the controller, whose actions must necessarily embrace matters going beyond the committee’s knowledge and responsibility.” If Shetland lost touch with the mainland, the chief executive would take “full respon­sibility for survival operations”.

Radiation would “make it impracticable for essential staff to operate from normal offices and protected emergency accommo­dation would be needed for the immediate period after attack”. Local authorites, Mr March says, “are required to establish, equip and maintain premises in their area as an emergency centre to control and co-ordinate action …” The islands council “must provide centres in two places” and consider schemes for emergency power and water. Such schemes are “elegible for civil defence grant”.

50 Years Ago

Last week we reported that parents in the Dunrossness area had voted unanimously in favour of school centralisation for the district. That report was confirmed by the official report issued to members of the Education Committee at the weekend – but at Monday night’s Education Committee it became evident that in actual fact many parents are still against central­isation!

However, it would appear that they have missed their opportunity to state their views, because the Education Committee decided to go ahead with a centralised school project for the district by 15 votes to 2, and instructed the architect to survey the district and suggest suitable sites.

The centralisation proposal will save a considerable sum of money. The report notes that the next six-year building programme will cost £1,300,000. To modernise the three schools in Dunrossness would cost £60,000, wheras the new school will cost £36,000.

Somebody had asked whether it would matter what the parents said; was it not the case the Education Committee could decide on centralisation in any case? Chairman Mr Ollason’s reply has been to the effect they must make no mistake about it, the Education Committee had the power to centralise. Up to that time they had been trying to take the parents’ wishes into account, but if the people of Dunrossness refused to see this in a proper light the Education Committee had at their discretion the right to do what they thought fit and proper.

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At a time when the EIS are asking Education Committees to dispense with the services of uncertificated teachers, SIC have agreed to appoint Mr G. I. de Mercado as a full-time teacher of the violin at a salary of £600 per annum. Recently Mr Mercado has been employed as a violin teacher, but has only been paid for the actual number of hours’ instruction given.

100 Years Ago

Squalls at Whiteness Voe – A Neighbours’ quarrel – “Delighting in Evil” – A short scene in what is evidently a long-standing neigh­bours’ quarrel at Whiteness was staged in the Lerwick Sheriff Court on Monday when Sheriff Broun heard evidence on the charge against Robert Robertson, crofter, Strom, Whiteness, of assaulting Mary Mouat, striking her on the side and arm with stones, and committing a breach of the peace, on 12th September, 1910.

The evidence for the prosecution, which was given by Mrs Hunter, Strom, a near neighbour of the accused, her son Andrew, a boy of twelve, and Mary Mouat, house­keeper to Bruce Hunter, Strom, was to the effect that the accused had thrown stones at the witness Mary Mouat, bruising her side and arm. The immediate cause of the assault was a complaint made to accused at his house by Miss Mouat that his pony was trespassing among Bruce Hunter’s corn. The first witness said she had complained to accused about his animals trespassing before, and he always “used an abominable tongue.” He had threatened to “crush her in a heap.” (Laughter.) Mary Mouat said the stones were flung at her from a very short distance. Answering Mr Hoggan, she denied that she had said to accused, “I will give you and your animals hot skins.” Here accused interposed excitedly and cried out, “You said that to me.”

The boy was questioned as he was too young to be sworn. In the course of answering Mr Hoggan he said accused “fired stones at them sometimes.” He was questioned as to Mary Mouat’s general behaviour and replied, “I never heard Mary flighting but when old Bob tackled her.” (Laughter.) He had heard accused shouting at Miss Mouat, but could not make out what he said because “he speaks in a most abominable way.” (Laughter.) The evidence for the defence, given by accused and his housekeeper, Mrs Brown, was to the effect that Mary Mouat had come to their house on the morning of the date libelled and knocked at the wooden porch with a stone, breaking a pane of glass. She was abusive and called accused an “old brute.” Miss Mouat went away but came back again and threatened to give Robertson and his animals hot skins. Mrs Brown said their pony was not in their neighbour’s corn. She added, “I did not see anything to make a row about, but they just delight in evil.” (Laughter.) Accused said that Mary Mouat was firing stones at the porch. He denied that the pony was in Bruce Hunter’s corn, and denied throwing stones, saying he had risen from bed to answer the door and was never out of the porch. He said, “I don’t keep stones in bed or yet inside the porch. I don’t do it.” (Laughter.) He complained that his neighbours made him uncom­fortable, and that his chimney had been recently filled with stones. “It’s a regular nuisance, you know. It will have to be stopped.”

Sheriff found the charge proved. Accused refused to admit previous convictions, but three were proved against him. He was fined £2 or eight days, but was warned that another time he might not get the option of a fine. The money was paid.


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