Incomers do not jump the housing queue, insists Wishart

The council has laid to rest the “myth” that incomers are jumping ahead of people on the housing list.

Allan Wishart said he regularly heard comments that newcomers to the isles were being given preferential treatment by the SIC’s housing department.

His comments came at today’s executive committee meeting in the town hall, where councillors were shown the SIC’s policies on homelessness and temporary accommodation.

Concerns were raised last week that new rules due to come into force next year could lead to a shortage in temporary accommodation.

Mr Wishart told fellow members many people had a perception of “anti-discrimination” in the council.

“I get a lot of enquiries about housing, and one thing that’s often said when people are upset or distressed is an allegation of people coming in through the south mouth and getting one straight away. That needs to be put to rest.”

Head of housing Anita Jamieson said the council had to deal with every homeless presentation “in accordance with statutory guidance”.

Other members said they had heard similar comments from their own constituents.

Cecil Smith said he regularly faced enquiries. “My answer is a policy and procedure is in place. It’s the most we can ever do.”

Caroline Miller jumped to the council’s defence over its record on homelessness.

“I’m proud that we live in a society that takes care of folk who don’t have a roof over their heads. We’ve come on leaps and bounds in those whole country over the last 50 years. I can remember as a child seeing folk living in cardboard boxes. It’s great that we look after folk.”

Mr Wishart insisted his comments were not a criticism of the council’s housing department.

“I’m just trying to kill the impression that there is some sort of favouritism,” he said.


Add Your Comment
  • Trevor Scantlebury

    • November 7th, 2011 14:14

    I doubt very much if in Caroline Millers lifetime people have lived in cardboard boxes, particularly in Shetland, perhaps she has listened to too many Monty Python sketches.

  • Rosemary Mallace

    • November 8th, 2011 7:51

    Not cardboard boxes, but I remember in the 50s a family living in a bus. Not a nice converted bus, just a bus. Can’t remember if it was out the North Road or the South Road. Must have been freezing in winter.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • November 8th, 2011 9:08

    As a student in London in the sixties and seventies we certainly had plenty of bag ladies and gentle men living on the streets. Under the Thames bridges many slept in carbooard boxes with a newspaper as a blanket. Not only Shetlanders know hardship! Try listening to: Ralph McTell “Streets Of London.”

  • Anne Birnie

    • November 8th, 2011 9:49

    I can remember how hard it was back in the late 70’s when trying to get a council house…… in them days ‘oily’ incomers most definitely came off the boat in the morning, and were sitting in a house by tea-time!! But we never did have to resort to living in a cardboard box – thank goodness!

  • Ron Stronach

    • November 8th, 2011 12:19

    I remember the family in the bus, it was the North Road from memory.
    God the things you foget!

    I tried to get a council house when I returned to Shetland after being in the Royal Navy, I never got any priority hence I promptly left again.


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