Colourful councillor Allison “Flea” Duncan better watch out for flying golf balls when he is next in Whalsay after singlehandedly trying to stop a grant for the island’s golf club.
At the services committee today he called for the £10,000 grant towards the annual £58,200 running costs to be refused and spent on education instead. To make up the shortfall he proposed that the club’s adult members cough up an extra £82 each.
Of the three golf clubs in Shetland he said Whalsay and the Shetland Golf Club at Dale were subsidised by the council but not Asta. “If they can stand on their own two feet there’s no reason why the other two can’t do likewise,” he said.
A bit of research had led him to discover that the councils in Orkney and the Western Isles did not subsidise their golf courses yet they managed to keep going.
Full of good ideas to help the Whalsay club, he said it could save £5,700 on staff wages by using volunteers instead, as many other clubs in Shetland do.
His passionate speech and these austere times failed to galvanise his colleagues into supporting. Nobody would even second his motion.
Shetland’s new political leader and resident Whalsay man, Josie Simpson, swiftly backed the grant, praising the huge amount of voluntary work that had gone into establishing the club at Skaw.
He said councillors had to focus their minds on looking after the young people of Shetland and making the islands as attractive a place to live as possible. He even had hopes that some of the hundreds of Total gas plant construction workers who will be coming to Sullom Voe would use the golf course and it might even help persuade some of them to settle in Shetland permanently.
Golf is one of those subjects, like dog fouling and black bags, that always gets councillors going. Caroline Miller revealed she was now a golf “learnee” and she waxed lyrical about the game’s health attributes and its attraction to all ages.
Cultural spokeswoman Florence Grains got in on the act too, informing members that golfers at the island games in Shetland had said the Whalsay course was one of the most exciting they had played on.
Bill Manson cast his mind back to his boyhood days in Ayr and said one of the reasons Scotland is such a golfing attraction is its network of municipal golf courses, paid for by local authorities.
Hopes of the spectacle of a dust-up outside between Mr Simpson and Flea were dashed when the two were seen reaching across the table to shake hands. However, the pint-sized Ness man will no doubt be back on the attack again when Shetland Golf Club comes calling for its annual subsidy.