Everything centralised (Belle Spence)

So here we go again … Yet again the SIC is looking to close schools in the remotest and most vulnerable areas of the Shetland Isles without a thought to the big picture.

Why can the SIC not understand that the effect of closing a school can actually cost them money in the long run. If the Baltasound secondary department is closed we will lose jobs, families, young people.

This will eventually lead to a dramatic loss of services and yet more people will leave and there will be no reason for anyone to move into the island. It will also result in a rush of people trying to move to Lerwick, taking up houses, jobs, childcare places, and adding to class sizes.

It’s claimed that the SIC is looking at radical ways to save money but destroying the rural areas isn’t radical … the council has been doing that for years.

A radical form of thinking would be to use rural areas as an asset and decentralise – dare I suggest not building a new Anderson High School and instead bus pupils out of town to make rural schools more cost-effective? (Not so nice when it’s your school that’s suggested for closure is it?)

There are many other arguments against sending Unst pupils to Yell: the ferry often doesn’t run and is very busy; the dangers of high winds and icy roads; the cost of transport; the distance away from home if children get ill or have doctor’s appointments; implications for ferrying families to and from parents evenings; Christmas events, sports days and community events; the ability of children to take part in after school activities and even to do homework if travelling for two hours every day.

Before the SIC starts closing our schools and destroying rural communities maybe it should take a hard look at its own wages, and the expense of luxuries such as the skate park in Lerwick and Mareel, to name but a few.

I just hope that the councillors of Shetland see past the education department’s tunnel vision and look at the big picture of the Shetland Islands as a whole – what you save from closing rural schools you pay for much more in other departments.

Belle Spence


Add Your Comment
  • Paula goddard

    • August 28th, 2012 12:01

    Thankyou Belle for putting into words the majoritys thoughts .
    Not building a new Anderson High would save a huge amount of money . Why did we need a new school ??

  • Sylvia M Pries

    • August 28th, 2012 12:11

    weel said Belle!

    I keep emphasisin da ‘ISLANDS’ part o SIC ………..

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    • August 28th, 2012 12:19

    SIC has to cut costs. Plenty oil and gas money coming in. Cannot afford schools or services we managed to keep before oil money. Whats changed. SIC empire building days ensured too many over paid posts which was not sustainable. What can we do? Oh yes we get the overpaid high earners to write reports on how to save money. Result – lets cut every service and shut as much as possible in the rural areas, that way we keep our cushy jobs and to hell with those remote areas with people in them that we never have to meet.

  • Colin Hunter

    • August 28th, 2012 12:59

    It’s no aboot what we “NEED” ony mair, but aboot what a vociferous minority “WANT”. Namely Swimming pools, Liesure centres, an places laek “Mareel”, aa o which hae ta be paid fur an ir little edder dan a millstane roond wir necks! Wir dey no somethin i’da Bible aboot sowin da wind an reapin da whirlwind? Weel fokk! Heeds doon! Here he comes!!

  • Billy Wiseman

    • August 28th, 2012 13:25

    With all the companies in Sullom Voe Terminal, how much money per year does the council get from them? is there any way that we can get more rent from the companies, I may be thinking a bit too far outside the box……..

  • Al Ball

    • August 29th, 2012 7:17

    Has anybody asked the council for its risk assessment that I understand they are required to carry out for transporting children to school.

    I think parents should be informed about how the council has assessed risk to their kids going to a school further away when the council close the local school for financial savings.

    What are the measures to be taken to reduce such a risk ?.

    Risk = Hazard Effect (Injury or death) x Probability (how often will it happen)

    Are thy are putting a price on the childrens heads?

    Next lets look at negligence

    The council has a duty of care to the children, If a child is injured because the council has failed in its duty of care then they are negligent which then allows for a civil action for compensation. They must have factored this in – again a price on the childrens head.

    Let’s see which councillor is prepared to say how much the death or injury to a child is worth relative to cost savings.

    Would be interesting reading in their election manifesto.

    Al Ball


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