Disappointing editorial (Malcolm Bell)

I very rarely respond to newspaper comment; however, your editorial of Friday last (11th October) has left me with little option.

It is disappointing that a story about an initiative of this council, designed to bring our decision-making closer to the public, was turned into a comment on the schools debate.

For the avoidance of doubt, I would not and do not expect children (especially), staff or councillors to take undue risk on roads which are known to be dangerous or impassable due to winter conditions. Schools normally close or issue guidance when that occurs.

Had we planned to transport upwards of, perhaps, 50 members and officials to a rural location and then cancel at short notice due to blocked winter roads, we would cause administrative chaos and very possibly destroy a fledgling initiative. A formal council meeting cannot simply be held elsewhere or at short notice.

I can only imagine the ridicule your paper would have, correctly, subjected us to had we planned to hold a meeting in the country in the middle of winter, which then had to be postponed due to bad weather.

Taking council meetings outside Lerwick is not something we have to do but is something I feel strongly we ought to do and do properly. It is an initiative I hope will prove to be successful, popular and become, once established, a routine event.

Malcolm Bell

Town Hall,



Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • October 19th, 2013 14:24

    But Malcom, with respect, council officials are proposing that schoolchildren travel by bus to school an extra 40 miles or so, every weekday of winter, once Aith and Sandwick schools are closed. As Convener, you are presiding over the advancement of that proposal.

  • Colin McKearney

    • October 19th, 2013 17:34

    I wholeheartedly agree John , Its ridiculous in the extreme , in fact insulting that it wouldn’t be acceptable to hold a meeting in the winter months for fear of making a few councillors uneasy about travelling on a bus , but its deemed to be okay for our bairns to do so , day and night 5 days a week. sic need to get a grip !!

    Also when we were at the meeting at the Anderson High School , we were graced with the presence of mark boden at our table , who was asked a question repeatedly “Don’t you need to start making cuts at the top rather than the bottom of the sic” To which he replies time and again with “The top of what ?” , “I don’t understand what you mean” , “pardon I didn’t hear you ?” He then got angry and attempted to scold us by saying that “we weren’t interested in doing this exercise !!” And then he left in a hissyfit. If this is what the sic mean by paying the big money to attract the “right” people then god help us.
    He should have known what we meant considering he last post was deleted and he was got rid off , under at best , questionable circumstances !

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 22nd, 2013 9:14

    I dont suppose you were going to hold the meeting at 9 am in Reawick or Sandness either? But the bairns from there have to start their journey at around about 7am in frost just to get to Bixter for 8 am to meet a feeder bus. I would think our excellent gritter service would get the roads cleared for a meeting somewhere like Bixter for 11 am, for you. Main road all the way from Lerwick. Shetland Arts were holding their meetings in the country years ago. Whalsay, Sandwick, Weisdale, etc.

  • John K Smith

    • November 16th, 2013 7:18

    I suggest that SIC make it a formal requirement to hold full council meetings (travel in one bus) at 09.00 four times a year (one in each season) rotating venues in the location of every high school where young people are expected to bus from. Not only would it make councillors aware of busing problems it would make Shetland council more accessible to these areas, a much more democratic arrangement.


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