Agony prolonged as council’s Skerries decision is halted by technical fault

Plans to discuss the closure of Skerries secondary department have been brought to a sudden halt less than 24 hours before councillors were due to debate its future.

Education and families chairwoman Vaila Wishart is opting not to discuss its future in the town hall tomorrow following fears some electronic submissions to the consultation process may have been lost.

It is feared feedback sent via the council’s website may not have been received.

An urgent investigation has been launched by the SIC’s children and families service, and anyone who believes their submissions may have been lost are being urged to contact its director, Helen Budge.

Councillors will still meet tomorrow to decide the fate of Olnafirth Primary School, which is also being recommended for closure.

The children’s services was informed late on Monday evening that some consultees believe their submissions had not been received.

A statement said: “While it was not proved that the electronic system did not work, neither has it been proved to the satisfaction of the department that it did.

“Therefore to be absolutely safe, anyone who believes their response has not been considered as part of the consultation process should contact the director of children’s services, Helen Budge on 01595744064 or by e-mail as soon as possible, and in any case by 31st October 2013.”

Vaila Wishart –
Vaila Wishart – “prudent and sensible decision”

Speaking to The Shetland Times Ms Wishart said: “I think it is prudent and sensible to take a pause now and try and get this sorted out.

“We are asking anybody who thinks their response hasn’t been considered to get in touch with Helen [Budge].

“If we get all the people who think they haven’t been included in the consultation to get in touch with Helen by the end of this month then we can look and see what’s happened, and take it from there.

“It’s very disappointing but it’s really important to get this right. We can’t have folk coming back after we’ve made a decision and saying, ‘look, our submissions haven’t been considered’.

“It is absolutely prolonging the agony, and I am really upset about the effect this will have on the community, but I didn’t see that there was any alternative. I don’t think we should do something that we have doubts about.”

More reaction to the deferral in this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Michael Bilton

    • October 13th, 2013 0:46

    I’ve written about this subject before. I saw again to parents in Skerries – challenge the SIC if the law goes against you. You should seek judicial review but start your homework now by finding a good human rights lawyer to argue your case. There are many grounds for doing this – abuse of process is one, et has SIC examined the possibility of psychological damage being caused to Skerries children being removed from their parential home with no certainty that they will see them at weekends, especially in bad weather. There will be studies conducted elsewhere on the Scottish mainland of possibly emotional problems suffered by kids who have to compulsorily board. Get hold of them. More crucially you have the the European Convention on Human Rights to fall back on – each individual is entitled to a family life – this will be denied to children made to compulsorily board, when alternative schooling is already in place in Skerries. The individual children who would be affected by being forced to board during the week could also sue under the ECHR. When the decision is made parents have only six weeks to lodge their case – which is why they need to do the groundwork now.


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