20th November 2018
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Review of the Year – August: Council criticised but island life goes on

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Following the early summer hearing at the Town Hall, the Accounts Commission heavily criticised the council, describing the troubled authority as haphazard and deeply flawed. It identified an absence of clear, decisive and consistent leadership, adding there were shortcomings in processes and procedures, with serious concerns surrounding how the SIC deals with potential conflicts of interests among councillors.

However it stopped short of pointing the finger at individuals. There was no blame attached to convener Sandy Cluness, but Jonathan Wills refused to accept that councillors should accept collective responsibility for leadership shortcomings – perhaps signalling an end to the new spirit of co-operation between members which had been discussed. There was, at least, good cheer for school students who excelled themselves in this year’s exam results.

The chief executive of NHS Shetland, Sandra Laurenson, announced she would step down at the end of the year.

Councillors gave the green light for a major housing development to be built at Hoofields in Lerwick to help combat the housing shortage, despite concerns it could be too close to the new abattoir being built nearby.

The Standards Commission, busy in Shetland this year, ruled that SIC member and Viking Energy project co-ordinator Allan Wishart had no case to answer over a complaint alleging he had breached the councillor’s code of conduct. The allegation had claimed he faced a conflict of interest as a councillor. Mr Wishart had resigned as a trustee of Shetland Charitable Trust on taking up his job with Viking Energy the previous August.

There were calls for the Scottish government to be more constructive when deciding how to cut running costs at lifeline ferry operator NorthLink, after it emerged the ferry operator had its eye on a freight vessel with room for 400 passengers as well.

Scottish government officials were warned at a ferries review meeting to think carefully before making cuts to the NorthLink service which could harm Shetland’s lifeline link to the mainland.

Meanwhile a petition was launched calling for a sea-route to be re-established between Shetland and Norway.

The hnefatafl champion of 2009, Tim Miller of Somerset, retained his title in the 2010 event.

There was still no decision on plans for a windfarm converter station at Upper Kergord. However a study into the carbon impact of the project claimed emissions caused by building the station would be offset in 49 days.

With the Tall Ships due to arrive next summer, four young men sailed on the Christian Radich from Kristiansand in Norway to Hartlepool. The sailors were Sam Spence, Iain Johnson, Adam Johnson and James Johnson.

West Side mussel farm Demlane went into administration along with its parent company Isle of Shuna following a drop in turnover.

The council welcomed new laws which ended restrictions on local authorities making cash by selling energy from green projects to the national grid.

Faroese fishermen hit back after criticism of their government’s decision to increase its own mackerel quota, claiming stocks around the island group had increased in recent years.

The season of country shows got underway. During the month there were shows at Voe, Cunningsburgh and Walls.

Environment minister Roseanna Cunningham paid a visit to Shetland’s first allotment group in the North Mainland.

It emerged whalers who took part in expeditions to the South Atlantic were to have their work commemorated in a memorial to be installed near the Small Boat Harbour in Lerwick.

After a tenacious battle, stroke victim Harry Robertson was able to leave a care centre and return to living in his own home.

Organisers of the isles seventh Fiddle Frenzy festival hailed the event as a great success.

Plans for Shetland’s first wavefarm were continuing to move forward, although the proposals by partners in the Aegir project stressed the proposals hinged on the interconnector cable being installed.

Shetland’s lord lieutenant came forward with a new proposal to end the SIC’s control of the £200 million charitable trust fund. John Scott said two thirds of trustees should be independently elected, and only three should be SIC members.

A new book, Water in Burgidale: Shetland Fisheries in a pre-electronic age, was released by Cunningsburgh writer Charlie Simpson. His work charted the revolution in marine navigation over the last 60 years.

Allison Duncan said council tenants who vandalise the homes they are staying in ought to be living in caves. His comments came after councillors heard property damage had cost the local authority £295,000 in the past five years. Knitting enthusiasts from all over the world were in the isles to pursue their hobby and further their knowledge of Shetland yarn.

The council made a one-off payment of £400,000 to Shetland Recreational Trust to cover the cost of schools’ usage of swimming pools and leisure centres over the past year.

Bosses of NHS 24 visited the isles with a view to developing a local branch of the telephone health service.

Retired doctor Rorie Laidlay, who gave up much of his time as a volunteer for good causes, died after a short illness.

A significant proportion of the Scottish whitefish fleet was said to be on the brink of collapse unless there was an easing of management restrictions.

An enthusiastic audience was treated to a piano recital of Russian music by talented pianist Liza Sinicina in the Town Hall.

After a late start due to mist, the 108th Lerwick Regatta was hotly contested with Whalsay well to the fore in the sailing and the Nesting team taking most of the honours in this season’s yoal rowing championships.

There was grit, determination and blisters as 500 people showed up in the South Mainland to take part in the Round Spiggie Fun Run.

A solitary goal from Keith Pearson was enough to give Whalsay the Parish Cup football trophy despite a dogged display from opponents South End at Gilbertson Park.

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