Islanders in Whalsay have expressed anger this week at the loss of one full time and two part time jobs, as the council centralises its ferry booking service to Yell.
Wednesday was Lena Simpson’s last day answering the telephone at the Whalsay booking office before the handover on 1st August. She had been full time in the job for 31 years.
The deletion of her post was “completely ridiculous” according to one islander who contacted The Shetland Times this week.
Margaret Anderson explained that “everybody in the isle is up in arms about it, they really are; because this is another job going out of the island. It’s really most distressing.
“It’s really ridiculous that it’s being put to another island. They have no idea about the bookings, or the cars, or the folk in Whalsay.
“There’s widespread anger, I can assure you” she said.
Ms Simpson said she was “vexed” to lose her job after more than 30 years, and she knew there was a lot of unhappiness about it within the community.
“Whit a phone calls I’ve had” she said. “This last three days it has just been mental, it really has. Everybody I think just cannot believe that this has happened.”
She had learned about her job being cut last December, Ms Simpson said, though councillors did not officially agree to the move until February. Prior to receiving that letter, though, the idea had never been mentioned to the community.
There had been “no consultation at all. I was just told that my job was no longer required.”
What had not been taken into consideration by the council, said Ms Simpson, was that the full extent of the service provided by the booking office.
“It’s certainly more than a booking service” she said. “You do far more as that. You’re just like an information line to the isle, for folk coming in, and folk in the isle too … It’s just lots of things that folk ask you in the run of the day. It’s mare as just taking their ferry booking.”
She went on: “I don’t think that folk living on the mainland of Shetland realises what it’s like living on an isle. I mean they’ve cut wir ferry runs as well, which has been very disappointing.
“It’s just like they’re clearing oot the isles. They’re just no caring about the isles at all.”