Anger in Whalsay as ferry jobs go to Yell

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.”


Add Your Comment
  • Ian Mundie

    • August 2nd, 2013 10:24

    It is with dismay I have learned of the axing of Lena Simpson from her job as ferry booking operative in Whalsay. Since my arrival in Whalsay last year I found Lena to be a pleasant and helpful lady to deal with and always ready for a yarn.

    Now it would appear we will be dealing with a faceless individual in Yell who knows little or nothing about the needs of the Whalsay community as seems to be the case with the SIC in general.

  • Stuart Hannay

    • August 2nd, 2013 17:16

    Ian, I fully share your dismay. I think the folk of Yell would be equally angry if the decision had been the other way round or the service relocated to Sella Ness as was also rumoured. I’m disappointed that the tone of the article is that one island has benefited at the cost of another when both islands are being hit by the increased centralisation of resources in Shetland. Focusing on making it look like a battle between 2 struggling communities distracts everyone from this fact.

  • John Anderson

    • August 2nd, 2013 21:18

    Surprised ( though I shouldn’t be) to hear that the Council had somebody paid full time only to take Whalsay ferry bookings. Bit of an inefficient extravagance in this day and age. It can all be online with phone backup, and still be based in an island or indeed anywhere, working from home, but you don’t need one person per island. Sounds like some folk still think the creation of artificial jobs is appropriate to keep the islands going. I’m kind of losing sympathy with this ‘poor wis against the big bad toon’ mentality.

  • John Jamieson

    • August 3rd, 2013 9:12

    All that ‘Yarning’ must be why it was so difficult to get through the few times I tried to make a booking! Never had that problem with the Yell office.


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