Review of the Year – September: Buchan arrives, Greenpeace take to sea

New council chief executive Alistair Buchan grappled with his first and most important task – helping the SIC put the year’s unpleasantness behind it. At a Full Council meeting he passed his first test with flying colours after delivering a salvage plan to help pull the troubled authority off the rocks.

Chief among the changes promised were a completely new committee system and improved decision making processes; an overhaul of top management; clearly defined roles for officials and members; council jobs devolved to rural areas and the setting up of a council PR office.

In other news, a former Lerwick optician sued his wife and business partner for £800,000, claiming her actions after they had separated effectively left him out of work.

Debate raged over deep sea water drilling by massive oil companies following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the Chevron-operated Stena Carron as she lay anchored off Bressay. They later swam out in front of the vessel some 100 miles north of Unst as she tried to reach the Lagavulin field north-west of the isles.

A series of public meetings were held to allow communities in Scalloway and Skerries to fight for the survival of their secondary school departments. Scalloway School Parent Council started a campaign to leaflet houses across the Central Mainland.

Crowds turned out in Scalloway to argue against the proposals, describing the standard of education in Scalloway as “second to none”.

Residents in Skerries, meanwhile, said closing its secondary department would have a deep impact on the whole community.

Sheep dip and toxic spray used for killing lice on horses may have poisoned thousands of farmed salmon at the Hoganess salmon farm in the West Side. The council announced it would hire a manager to oversee plans to push ahead with four subsea tunnels to the main islands over the next 20 years.

Tom Jamieson said he was giving up the Mousa Ferry service which he has run for 40 years.

Plans for new houses in Scalloway were once again recommended for refusal by the council’s planning board.

It emerged at least seven years will pass before the new Anderson High School is completed, leaving pupils and staff saddled with the patched up building at the Knab for some time yet.

A foundation stone for the new Baptist Church at Quoys in Lerwick was laid at a special ceremony.

The sun shone on Baltasound to give the Unst Show a pleasant day.

The council’s record on homelessness was slated by Shelter Scotland.

Pressure mounted on Sandy Cluness to stand down as convener. The call for Mr Cluness to fall on his sword came from Allison Duncan, who said Mr Cluness had lost the confidence of the majority of the electorate. He was backed by Shetland West member Gary Robinson, although Mr Cluness still remains in office today.

A very different battle was on to save a humpback whale caught in creel buoys off Vidlin Voe. Experts from the SNH and Scottish SPCA tried to find a way of setting the mammal free. It disappeared overnight, raising the question of whether it untangled itself and swam to safety or succumbed to mounting fatigue and drowned.

There was talk of winter strike action by council workers as unions protested about the “draconian” three-year pay deal imposed by Cosla across Scottish local authorities.

We thought we had seen the last of Shetland’s much-loved fish van when rising costs forced Hunter’s of Scalloway to end its mobile service. However the van would soon reappear, when one of the drivers decided to give it a go once more.

A newly revamped care centre at Montfield was a far cry from the hospital ward it once was.

A couple who complained about an ex-NHS Shetland clinical psychologist who was struck off accused the health board of failing to investigate the case in a timely fashion.

The charitable trust had to step in to plug a gap in social enterprise company Cope, which had been faced with having to close off some of its businesses and pay off workers with learning and physical disabilities.

Meanwhile, trust members agreed to seek expert opinion on whether it really has to reform its constitution by bringing in more non-councillor trustees.

There was more talk over the up and coming film Between Weathers, which was being dubbed a modern-day Local Hero.

It was all a mistake! … We heard NorthLink could be spared the dramatic cutbacks threatened by the Scottish government after all, after a good year and a strong business forecast for 2011. Cuts could yet be imposed in the next financial year, but Sandy Cluness was confident the ferry operator could ride out any future troubles.

It was not such good news at the airport, though. Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) said its no-nonsense approach to security and passenger safety meant car parking charges were still being considered.

Aberdeenshire couple David and Susannah Parnaby were named as the warden and administrator of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory.

There were fears for Shetland’s disease-free status among livestock as North Mainland farmer Bryden Nicolson turned his back on the animal health schemes which have helped give the isles a clean bill of health for over 20 years. Mr Nicolson denied making the move at all, however, insisting he had never broken any link with the schemes.

The Town Hall was packed as around 100 ex-whalers were treated to a civic reception.

Catholics went on a pilgrimage to see the Pope during his UK tour.

Teachers voiced concerns that pupils will spend over seven minutes walking between the proposed new Anderson High at the Staney Hill and their PE sessions at the Clickimin – severely eating into their timetable.

The primary school in Papa Stour was to re-open, however the island’s drugs project had to close its supported accommodation after a funding shortfall.

SIC members expressed fears foreign fish-farming companies will be granted permanent ownership of sites around Shetland under new legislation.

Meanwhile the start of the SIC’s first council housing development project for decades was officially marked. Seventy-six new homes are under development at Hoofields in Lerwick.

The three young people due to take part in the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony went off for three weeks of intensive training in Glasgow before flying out to India.

Shetland’s guitar festival kicked off in fine style with two visiting guitar geniuses and a host of local talent.

Guitar-strumming chart-topper Newton Faulkner announced plans to play in the isles, while organisers of a Steve Earle concert described it as a “memorable event”.

Lerwick triathlete Lynsey Henderson rounded off an excellent season by winning a silver medal in her age group in the world championships in Budapest.

The new rugby season got underway with Shetland Rugby Club facing Huntly for the first encounter. They would start the season well, with a convincing win over the visiting team at the Clickimin.

World darts champion Phil Taylor put on a sensational display to win the Clickimin Centre 25th Anniversary Trophy.


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