Co-op members hear of pending improvements at Lerwick store

Proposed changes to the Co-op supermarket in Lerwick, including the replacement of the cafe with a clothes shop and installation of self-service checkouts, were discussed on Wednesday evening.

Around 30 folk attended a North­ern Scotland & Islands Area Com­mittee meeting of the Co-operative Society, which is celebrating 150 years this year, at Islesburgh house in Lerwick.

Among those present were lord lieutenant Bobby Hunter and former councillor Leonard Groat, to name but a few. As folk entered they had to show their membership cards.

The Co-operative, which has a large presence in the isles with branches in Lerwick and Brae, is unique among supermarkets in being owned by its members and having an ethical policy. But since the arrival of Tesco, rumoured to have an 80 per cent share of the retail market in Shetland, it has like local businesses struggled to compete.

There has been disquiet locally with proposed changes to the store and a perceived run down of service. Management for the local store has been seen to be remote. Public relations, for example, is run from Manchester.

Present from the Scottish main­land were regional democratic ser­vices manager Tom Copland and area food retail manager Steve Stewart, to take the flack along with local representatives Alvis Gill-Merrall and Mick Clifton, who were wearing their “ask me, I’m an elected member” badges.

The officials said they wanted “a genuine conversation” and were “bringing integrity to commerce”. We were informed that the Lerwick store was in fact one of their bigger stores – most of the others are just convenience ones in the region

Vic Thomas, a former elected member, was first to ask about the availability of electrical goods. He was told we were “disadvantaged by geographical location”.

Mr Thomas went on to question the ethical credentials of Edinburgh Woollen Mill which now owns Peacocks, poised to open a clothes shop in the former cafe by the first week in December.

As to the closure of the cafe Mr Stewart said it had for some time been subsidised and running at a loss, the kitchen was in need of re­furbishment and needed upgrading. It was not financially viable to go forward with and also it was not good to have a “greasy spoon cafe” when the Co-op was promoting healthy eating, although he said he “personally” was not happy with the closing.

Next it was the turn of Mr Hunter to lambast the Co-op locally. He thought we were just being given excuses. He had no criticism of local staff but thought the whole management system “crap” and every­one was “going to the other side of town, you’re getting worse”.

But there was some good news. The roof was going to be relaid, 250 new trollies were coming, the pot holes in the car park were to be filled and automatic self-service checkouts were hopefully arriving too.

• More from the meeting in this week’s Shetland Times.

Stephen Gordon


Add Your Comment
  • michael grant

    • October 24th, 2013 17:20

    This is the worst shop in lerwick by a mile and how was the cafe not making money when it is always busy cant be true me thinks and certainly not co-op staff working in the cafe as they actually are pleasant and smile.

  • Rachel Buchan

    • October 24th, 2013 23:48

    Whoop-de-doo, new trolleys! My excitement knows no bounds! The last upgrade that the co-op did ended up in the tills being reduced by one….

  • Brian Smith

    • October 25th, 2013 7:29

    You canna even get commas at da Co-op.

  • Joe Johnson

    • October 25th, 2013 9:28

    Why did they close down the cafe when it will always attract customers especially folk coming off the ferry.

  • David Spence

    • October 25th, 2013 10:36

    Even with these ‘ minor improvements ‘ I still think the Co-op will struggle financially to keep going.

    I have been to the co-op and bought, moreorless, the exact same items, and they were roughly 15% more in terms of what Tesco’s was charging. Now that may not seem a lot to some people, but for those on tighter budgets, that can make a big difference.

    Truth be told, if the co-op was to really compete with Tesco’s here, it is going to have to lower the prices on many of its products to attract more custom.

  • clive munro

    • October 25th, 2013 16:26

    David, your comments frequently leave me completely nonplussed, so maybe I’ve misunderstood you here. Are you really saying that you ‘d rather give your money to the world’s second largest retailer, a true capitalist behemoth if there ever was one, than to Britain’s largest co-operative, members owned and run, organisation? By the way I write this having just come back from the Co-op where, with the exception of a few parsnips, I found everything I needed at what seemed, to me at least, very reasonable prices.

  • David Spence

    • October 25th, 2013 20:02

    Regretfully Clive, I do shop at Tesco’s, only because of circumstance rather than choice.

    I know everybody will say I am a hypocrite in the way and manner I go on about capitalism etc. but I have to, regretfully, get my groceries and other foods from there as it is the most economical means in which to do it.

    Before Tesco’s came, I always shopped at the Co-op, and found it, compared to local shops in the street, far cheaper and of a greater variety.

    Tesco’s, has proven to be cheaper than the Co-op……….even although the Co-op, morally, may be better suited.

    I also shop at Don Leslie’s and the butchers (Shan Smiths I think) across from Harry’s Toy Shop as their meat is far better quality than Tesco’s (again though, I am a little frugal in what meat I purchase)

    I must also confess that the after-sales service of Tesco’s is first class, as was demonstrated when I purchased a blu-ray player but it did not have a HDMI output connection (which was not shown on the box either). I phoned Tesco’s up, they said ‘ No problem sir, just bring in the blu-ray player and we’ll exchange it for one which has a HDMI output. ‘ Took it back, got the correct player, payed the difference (£5.00). There was no hassle, credit note etc etc. I could not complain of the service I received.

    As said Clive, it more related to circumstance than choice that I shop at Tesco’s for my general groceries. (In a situation like this, one is stuck between a rock and a hard place, so to speak lol)

  • Malcolm Henry Johnson

    • October 25th, 2013 20:21

    @ David Spence:

    Good Evening Comrade Spence.

    I follow your daily lectures with interest so I am very curious to know how you think the Co-op should reduce their prices by 15%. Should they (a) Bring in management consultants from the private (capitalist) sector who could show them how to operate as a more efficient business? (b) Reduce their wages bill? (The socialist utopia that is the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society already pays some of the lowest wages in the country) or (c) Negotiate a lower price for their produce? (The price that the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society pays to Nicaraguan coffee farmers is already less than the cost of the sticker they put on the jar ………. and don’t give me any of that self-righteous “Fair Trade” bullshit.)

    What, specifically, would you advise David?

    p.s. @ Clive : What does “nonplussed” mean?

    p.p.s. By the way I write this having just come back from Lochside Stores where, with the exception of a few tins of cider, I found everything I needed at what seemed, to me at least, very reasonable prices

  • ian Tinkler

    • October 25th, 2013 22:38

    David, So much for individual morality.

  • clive munro

    • October 26th, 2013 8:50

    Malcolm, you seem to be a fairly knowledgeable chap so I’m surprised you couldn’t find the meaning of “nonplussed” for yourself, but I used it to mean “so surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react”. Hope that helps.

  • David Spence

    • October 26th, 2013 9:38

    lol not surprising that I get the response one was predicting.

    Yes Malcolm and Ian, you may rightly, to a degree, call me a hypocrite due to my circumstances of shopping at Tesco’s (which is a british company Clive…..or started off as one in the early 19th century).

    However, my political views are primarily based on a Government’s/possibly the peoples choice as well, responsibility (said loosely) in providing the basic structures of society (as many European countries do) and where national interests should take priority over this of ‘ private sector interests ‘ (an US based economic system).

    By bias against the Tories (and this of capitalism to a degree) is their priority of looking after the interests of the minority (the rich and privileged (again said loosely)) at the cost of everybody else. We are talking about the transfer of the basic structures of our society to a system where it is the minority who benefit at the cost of the majority.

    Yes, there are both systems incorporated in all societies (capitalism and socialism) within the western world (including the US) However, it is the degree of the partnership between the 2 systems I question as to where our present Government seems to prefer 1 system over another, this being the private sector.

    Even with the failings of previously privatised state run services (Trains (the most expensive in Europe), Water and Sewerage (Scotland paying the highest price in the UK) Care for the Elderly (the most expensive in Europe)) this Government are still wishing to privatised existing state run services. It is not to improve them but for their own self interest in gaining (financially) from these services being transferred to the private sector, as was proven quite significantly with the privatisation of the railways and water and sewerage with a large percentage of Tories MP’s being major share-holders or on the board of Directors of the private companies after the privatisation.

    If you want to make comparisons between the USA and Europe, the USA, in practically every aspect of these social structures, is well behind most other developed countries, not only in health, education, housing but many other important categories which makes up these structures.

    The USA has the highest cost (per head per capita) of any of the developed countries in the world, even although it lags behind on much of the criteria which makes up what we would deem as ‘ western society.

    (in proportion to the cost of living to income (even if Taxes are lower in the US))
    the USA comes out at one of the highest in the developed countries.

    This is why I prefer 1 system (socialism) over the another, Capitalism (a system this Government would prefer).

  • Malcolm Henry Johnson

    • October 26th, 2013 13:11

    @ David Spence.

    Hi David. I must make it absolutely clear that I was NOT calling you a hypocrite. If you think I was then you have completely misunderstood the point I was trying to make. I genuinely enjoy reading your contributions and I agree with most of them in all but detail.

    If you just focus on the one simple question I asked and try to answer it then I believe the purpose of my question will reveal itself and you will realise it was not personal. Would you like to have another go?

    Just how, SPECIFICALLY, do you think the Co-op should reduce its prices by 15% ?

    @ Clive. Thanks for the definition. I WAS capable of finding it for myself – I found it by asking you. Sadly, your suggestion that I am a “fairly knowledgeable chap” is just an illusion that I have perfected over the years. 🙂

  • David Spence

    • October 26th, 2013 15:24

    ‘ Just how, SPECIFICALLY, do you think the Co-op should reduce its prices by 15% ‘

    Hello Malcolm, my apologies if I misinterpreted what you were saying in regards to the said subject.

    The reason I suggested the Co-op should reduce its prices was because of my own experience in shopping there and comparing (not exactly like for like but as close a match as possible as well as including their own brand name products) prices to this of its competitor Tesco’s.

    As I have previously mentioned, the difference (which I did purely out of curiosity) between the two supermarkets was roughly 15% more for the Co-op than Tesco’s for the same amount of shopping.

    This may seem little to most people, but for those on a tighter budget it is obvious which one would be the better.

    I must confess, as Clive has pointed out, there is a contradiction in my political views to this of my own life’s experience and this of shopping at Tesco’s, and supporting, as some people may say, a large corporate company which may have questionable business practices from an ethical if not moral perspective.

    I am, unfortunately, in a position where one does not have much choice in where someone buys their groceries, unless one is prepared to pay considerably more and purchase such goods elsewhere in the town.

    This is a luxury I cannot afford to support even though I may object to Tesco’s and their dominance in this particular market of food retail and other commodities. Hence, possibly, myself being a hypocrite……..which I, if it is to be interpreted as such, have to admit too………..mores the pity lol

  • Sandy McDonald

    • October 26th, 2013 17:23

    Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government”. Although he did add the rider: “, except all the others that have been tried”.

    I am sure David will correct me on this but it seem to me that most socialist states are extremely corrupt (as are many supposedly democratic ones). I speak from experience here having visited many countries in the merchant navy. Beware any Country that has the words: Democratic, Socialist, Peoples etc as part of their name!

  • Malcolm Henry Johnson

    • October 27th, 2013 11:03

    @ David Spence

    Hi David. Thanks for your reply. I would just like to make one final contribution to this debate before signing off, hopefully for good.

    For what my own opinion is worth, I think the members and supporters of the Co-op are placing that organisation in an impossible Catch 22 situation due to their own inability to decide what they actually want.

    They love to hate big bad capitalist Tesco who supply us with a huge range of goods at very low prices. Tesco can do this because they pay peanuts to Third World farmers and sweat shop workers and they pay minimum legal wage to their U.K. staff. The “I shop at the Co-op and look down my politically correct nose at the Tesco shoppers” brigade like to believe that their democratically run organisation is fundamentally different from Tesco but is it?

    IF the Co-op paid Third World producers a price that allowed them to live like us, or IF they paid their own domestic staff proper salaries, or IF they removed all the non-healthy products from their shelves and sold only healthy foodstuffs, or IF they did ANYTHING differently, then I might be able to see the point. They wouldn’t be able to compete on price but they WOULD be different.

    In reality, the Co-op is being put under more and more pressure by its own members to provide EXACTLY the same service as Tesco and sell EXACTLY the same range of products at EXACTLY the same price. The only way they can do that is by doing EXACTLY what Tesco does. (This is the point I was trying to make in my original question to you.) They not only have to imitate Tesco on the big issues (i.e. pay low prices to their suppliers and low wages to their staff) but they have to imitate Tesco on even the smallest details. (e.g. When big bad Tesco replaces paid staff with machines and tells customers to serve themselves the Co-op has to do EXACTLY the same in order to compete.)

    If the whole point is to duplicate everything that Tesco does then what is it that makes the Co-op members feel so superior? Is it because Tesco is run by an appointed Chairman and the Co-op is run by an elected committee because that’s the ONLY difference I can see? I think that if the Co-op members were honest enough they would re-name their shop Tes-Co-op and be done with it.

    If it really is important for the Co-op to survive then it must be because they are doing something different and that has to go beyond their obsession with internal management structures and other trivia. (Like stocking a tiny selection of Fair Trade products which pay the farmers tuppence ha’penny instead of tuppence)

    In the meantime David, you do not owe anybody an apology for shopping at Tesco and I wouldn’t get too hung up on the whole “ethical” thing for that word has the squishiest of all definitions.

    And with that Sirs, I wish you all Good Day and promise never to speak of this again.

  • fraser cluness

    • October 27th, 2013 16:53

    can someone tell me who actualy owns the co-op? i heard it was asda wallmart? is that true. if it is then its no better than tesco in a diffrent jacket.

  • David Spence

    • October 27th, 2013 17:36

    lol Sandy, no I will not correct you.

    However, in todays world there seems to be a drastic change in one countries attitude, political ideological nemesis (maybe put rather strongly lol) rivalry to what was not that long ago, this of the USA and its dominance (albeit diminishing) over global issues and this of ‘ forcing countries to adhere to its will (either by war and conflict or supporting Dictators, Governments which see things the US way) and way in which it should run its economy.

    However, despite this, many european countries still have, to a large degree, a socialist based system (as mentioned previously, the basic structures which makes up our society being in control of the Government rather than private enterprise) and I think most people in Europe would very much prefer this system to this of a Capitalist System where profit, greed, selfishness and exploitation are the key attributes on how a countries economy and basic structures are defined.

    Basically a system of two tiers, one being the elitist (rich and well off) the other for the majority of the population where the services and state run provisions are given with the minimum of expense because the Government prefers the elitest system more, although its moral obligations to the people would contradict this.

    In some ways, Capitalism is no more different to what was before the industrial revolution, this being the rich and the privileged (church) dominating peoples lives and where people were conditioned to be subservient to such powers of the state and religion……………today however, it is economics (and very much the Banking Systems) and not the state or church which rules the roost and dictates how a countries foreign policy and relationship with other countries is defined as well as how the people of the country should live, controlled and dictated too (where the media has a powerful influence and is still controlled by the Government).

  • jean martin

    • October 27th, 2013 20:31

    The Members !

  • jean martin

    • October 27th, 2013 20:37

    Sorry I may need to spell this out ? If you are member of the Co-op you are one the people who own it !

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 28th, 2013 9:40

    David Spence how ironic pointing out the good customer service of Tesco when buying a blue ray player from them rather than the local shop Clive used to run.

    I shop at the co-op because if Tescos are the only supermarket here we will be in big trouble. Not to be politically correct. And I also do think their meat and (local) bread are better. I do also go to Tescos.

    Did any one else notice that Primark are only having to pay £24 a month to their former workers. They will never notice that money going out every month.

  • David Spence

    • October 28th, 2013 10:36

    David Spence how ironic pointing out the good customer service of Tesco when buying a blue ray player from them rather than the local shop Clive used to run.

    Johan, I think you may have your facts wrong……..Clive never did sell any video recorders, dvd players or blu ray players……….he sold the dvd discs, blu ray discs and compact audio discs. He also sold games, headphones, disc cleaning equipment and various other audio/video accessories.

    I am sure Clive could verify what I have written?

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 28th, 2013 12:33

    I met a pal coming out of his shop one day with a blu ray palyer, and we used to buy PS3 bits there

  • clive munro

    • October 28th, 2013 13:36

    Johan, David’s right in saying that we never sold DVD, blu-ray or video players. We did, however, sell a lot of PS3s and, initially at least, many people bought them because, as well as being a good games console, they were also reckoned to be an excellent value Blu-ray player, given that actual Blu-ray players cost a small fortune when they first appeared on the market.

  • David Spence

    • October 28th, 2013 14:09

    I stand corrected Johan……my apologies.

    I may be wrong, but I was under the impression it was Internet sales which had a profound affect on Clive’s Record Shop and not Tesco’s, thus Clive having to close the shop?

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 28th, 2013 15:22

    But surely Clive’s customer service would have been better than Tescos, in any case

  • fraser cluness

    • October 28th, 2013 18:40

    i think the prices on amazon, and other webpages as well as tescos was possibly the last nail. However the above shops did not personally close clives or anyother shops in shetland or else where. Its us the shoppers by going there closed the shops. no-one in them forced us to shop there so it was us, The shetland public by buying elsewhere closes shops. Thus local shops up and down the country have to play the big boys games and offer great services, and just as good prices to keep going. Big shops like HMV are struggeling so what chance do little shops selling the odd CD have? The co-op also sells dvds and Cds and did so before clive closed so is it their fault too?

    I will say plant pots and nice painted buildings will make no difrence to a business if the service inside the shop is not great. You should also note the the co-op sells all sort of electrical aplyances tescos dont and have done for years. ie washing machines etc

    Good service, nice staff, clean shop, range of products, compecitive pricing, good customers aftercare and the ability to get near the place (parking) is all importaint to a moderen shopper. If any of the above are missing then I and I’m sure everyone esles will go where we get it.

  • Sandy McDonald

    • October 28th, 2013 19:55

    If you can get something for £200 from Amazon and the same product costs £300 in a local Shetland store, you are hardly likely to buy it up here unless you have the cash to burn or really really believe in shopping locally.

    I would urge folk to barter a bit as a few local shops are willing to drop their prices to match “the internet”. Again, speaking from experience, the old LBC guaranteed us the same price for a fridge freezer that we found online (including the quote for delivery of course). It dropped almost £100 off the original price. I would also highly recommend the camera centre for getting good deals and for the after sales service you get there.

    Then there are the local shops that still insist on shutting on a wednesday and won’t open their doors on a Sunday when the town is full of cruise ship passengers.

    The local stores that have modernised and evolved seem to be surviving not too bad. The ones that refuse to change are most likely doomed to fail. Adapt or perish!

  • john irvine

    • October 28th, 2013 22:07

    Sandy, there are a lot of people in Shetland with money to burn but sadly they are the ones most unlikely to part with the cash, if they could save 1% on something over the internet rather than buy locally then thats what happens. At the end of the day even if they paid twice as much it would make no difference to them financially.

  • David Spence

    • October 28th, 2013 22:08

    I would suspect that the Internet has had a massive impact on small communities around the country? However, as someone has mentioned previously, if local businesses are not prepared to try and address this issue, more and more local shops will end up closing, and the street would have to be renamed from Commercial (quite apt considering the subject matter) Street to Closed Street.

    I must admit, I have bought a few items from Amazon as well as Ebay, as the cost of certain products (locally as well as nationally) are ridiculously high……almost to the point of daylight robbery. It is no wonder Britain is the most expensive country to live in, in Europe…….even more expensive than the Scandinavian Countries.

    I am not having a bash at Capitalism (yeah, yeah I hear you say lol) but it is because of this political as well as social regime over many, many years that Britain has become a laughing stock of Europe, and is known, quite rightly, as ‘ Rip-Off Britain ‘.

    Here is an example :

    I was visiting friends in Germany, and I could purchase 5 t-shirts of reasonable quality for 10 euro’s (about £8.00).

    On my return, I paid a visit to Edinburgh to see my brother. We went shopping, and in one of the shops in Princess Street was selling almost the identical t-shirt for, wait for it, £4.00 each (or £20.00 for 5)

    need I say more……………

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 29th, 2013 9:22

    David, to get your T shirts for 10 euros, someone low paid probably female, in perhaps a dangerous building in e.g. India had to make that for you. That surely is capitalism at its worst (as someone pointed out earlier).

  • David Spence

    • October 29th, 2013 13:11

    Well Johan, I cannot say as to what the members of staff were paid or for that matter where these t-shirts were made…………….but the shop also included ‘ Designer Clothes ‘ as well and at a noticeably higher price compared to other products of a very similar design and wear.

    When it comes to the vanity and fashion industries, these industries are very much the exploiters of the consumer when it comes to charging too much………as well as those people stupid enough (easily conditioned and brainwashed to part with their money) to follow the latest fashion 3 or 4 times a year irrespective as to how these garments were made…..and where these individuals care not about any morals as long as they get their latest dose of retail therapy (buy the latest fashion) and buy these garments.

  • Stewart Mac

    • October 29th, 2013 13:32

    You know David, i’ve sat back for a while now but reading all this has somehow restored my faith in humanity, its somehow warm and comforting to see that you too financially support these vile capitalists you despise so vehemently (and vocally!) on these pages.

    I wont raise the H word which you so accurately mention yourself but i sincerely hope it does make you stop and take stock before spouting on further self righteous nonsense about the faults of the capitalist world. Remember- just as your principles are swept aside in the hunt for a bargain (forced by circumstances or otherwise), others too may have little choice in where they shop or why, albeit they may not be quite so vocal in their condemnation of the purveyors of these vile capitalist bargains where you seem all to eager to spend your weekly pocket money. so lets hear no more crys of vile capitalist anything from you until such time as your principles are supported by your shopping habits

  • Harry Dent

    • October 29th, 2013 13:33

    I’m a Co-op member but wasn’t able to be at the meeting.

    If Co-op management think installing self-service tills is an improvement, I fear the store is doomed. I for one avoid these abominations like the plague.

    It needs to be refurbished into a brighter store with as wide a choice as space will permit.

    It also needs a cash machine, though that might be more difficult to achieve now the Co-op has surrendered control of its bank to an American hedge fund.

  • David Spence

    • October 29th, 2013 14:40

    I am intrigued to know Stewart what your stance is on Britain being the most expensive country to live in ?

    Are you in support of capitalist principles on the basis that profit, greed and selfishness are the main priorities which should govern a country and peoples morality?

    Where do you draw the line between people benefitting from a way of life which supports immoral business practices (slave labour, sweat shops, zero hour contracts, exploitation of third world countries……the list goes on) or are you one of those individuals where ‘ it doesn’t affect me, so I do not care ? ‘ (selfishness being a typical trait of capitalism) mentality ?

    Are you in support of bankers giving themselves massive bonuses, whilst this Government is hell bent of reducing the budgets of the Councils to do their jobs

    Yes, I may shop at Tesco’s because it is cheaper than what local shops charge, but one could equally say the same about people using ebay, amazon or any other online shopping via the Internet in terms of supporting capitalist ideals.

    As I have said Stewart, all western societies have an element of capitalism and socialism incorporated within them…… is the relationship between the two and what system has greater power and dominance which dictates how a country is run and on what basis.

    I have also given examples where countries are ruled by either a socialist or capitalist based economy and government…….if you cared to read my previous posts……..and where socialist based principles are significantly more widespread around the world than any capitalist based principles.

    So Stewart, NO!!!! I will not stop criticizing a system where profit, greed, exploitation, lying, deceiving, dishonesty and all the other negative aspects of human nature are highlighted to the full for the part (individual (supported by this VILE Tory Government) rather than this of the whole (society).

  • David Spence

    • October 29th, 2013 15:06

    Stewart, I also, even though I cannot really afford it, support 5 Charities (Oxfam, Cancer Research, RSPB, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Amnesty International) and 2 organisations (Greenpeace, World Wildlife Federation) because I believe in the principle of the greater good of the collective, unlike capitalism which only, in principle, benefits the individual (look after number 1 mentality).

    So even if I do shop at Tesco’s, and you may brand (as I have admitted myself) me a hypocrite, I still try my best to support the greater good rather than just thinking of myself and what I can get out of people for my own gratification and wealth.

  • Ali Inkster

    • October 29th, 2013 16:18

    Please explain what sea shepherd, amnesty and rspb do for the greater good David. For as far as I can see sea shepherd charge around the globe in diesel driven boats attacking people going about their legal business. The same can be said about Greenpeace, I saw no sails on their ship in Russia. And then we have the rspb who dictate who can and can not live on fair isle but still expect us to subsidise a bunch of twitchers visiting from elsewhere. So for the life of me I can see no legitimate purpose to their existence.

  • clive munro

    • October 29th, 2013 16:54

    David, I don’t mean to be pedantic, and I don’t know what criteria your claim is based on, but I’d question your assertion that Britain is “the most expensive country to live in”. That honour, I believe, falls to Denmark, closely followed by Switzerland and Norway. From the information I could find Britain isn’t even in the Top 10.

  • Scott Johnson

    • October 29th, 2013 17:31

    Just to add my point, everyone, I am with David Spence to a degree here. Tesco offer products at lower cost to the customer, better customer service and a wider range of products that blows the Co-Op out the water.

    In days of recessions and financial strains, it’s no wonder why people prefer the retail branch that is Tesco over the Co-Op. And to me, it isn’t like the Co-Op are even trying to secure custom. I have continuously been baffled by the lack of staff on shift at the Co-Op at one time when I am there. Maybe I go there at the wrong times, but the customer service at the Co-Op really is shambolic, especially from a shop that is apparently losing customers.

    I am all for going to smaller companies for goods when the prices aren’t too great, even if Tesco does happen to be cheaper, but there is more to securing my custom than money. Ranges of products, availability and customer service are just as important on a personal level to me. I remember going into World Tastes shortly after reading an article in the paper that Tesco were putting them under, and the counter assistant didn’t look at me, gave me vague answers to my queries, despite knowing English and the prices of the products were shocking.

    I can see why some people remain loyal to shops like the Co-Op, but the “sell outs’ that end up going to Tesco are simply looking out for their best interests, which I don’t judge them for.

  • David Spence

    • October 29th, 2013 19:27

    lol Well Ali, as I am sure you are aware, us homo-sapiens (aka human beings) live on a planet which co-exists with many other species of life in a finally balanced environment (which is also a living entity) where life and the environment have a symbiotic relationship to the mutual benefit of both (known as the Gaia Theory)

    However, though, this very finely balanced situation is being threatened by the actions of humans, where pollution, destruction of the natural habitat (in many cases for agricultural reasons, expansion of building due to population increase and for material and fuel) is having a catastrophic affect on many species as well as the environment.

    According to scientific analysis and with the exception of the meteorite causing the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago (thus the rise of the mammals thereafter) the rate in which species are becoming extinct has never been faster.

    Yes, there has been, according to scientific analysis again, 5 major extinctions in the Earths history. As mentioned though, the rate in which species are becoming extinct now has never been faster. Other extinctions that have happened occurred over long periods of time. As to the precise cause of these extinctions is still speculative based on fossil records.

    Now, some humans (lets call them capitalists – predominantly big corporate companies) do not really care about the environment or the destruction of natural habitat or eco-systems, all they seem to care about, irrespective to the long term damage they may cause

    (again, the typical capitalists (bcc) lack of any long term vision due to there ‘ lets make a quick buck mentality ‘)

    in what they can reap from the planet in the form of financial gain and never ever consider the negative impact and consequences of their greed…………but why should they……..afterall, look after number 1 is their only priority.

    Now Ali, it may utterly surprise you, but us humans do have to co-exist with other species of life as well as the environment for our own survival as a species, despite the fact we (humans) have literally disconnected ourselves entirely from this symbiotic relationship between life and the environment, and have created our own environment (cities, towns etc etc) at the cost of the natural environment.

    I am sure you may be aware Ali, but as a consequence of us humans causing so much destruction to the environment, natural habitats, eco-systems there is going to be a price to pay………this is what is known as global warming (and the evidence is so overwhelming that human activity is responsible for it) and the affects from this, although maybe not apparent in any significant way now, will have drastic consequences for future generations and populations later (and we are talking in decades not thousands of years).

    However, as mentioned before, your average capitalist (bcc) cares not about what they do now as long as they get rich quickly, and to hell with the long term damage they may cause……..but the price everybody else is having to pay for their selfish ways (a typical trait of a capitalist (bcc)) will become, hopefully, more apparent as nature, quite rightly, reclaims back what us humans have destroyed (hopefully with the complete annihilation of us humans as a species, if we do not cause our own demise before then) and puts the environment and life back to a stable symbiotic relationship.

    Now Ali, you may not consider the environment and life on this planet as important, but whatabout future generations? Whatabout acknowledging that we humans are having a drastic affect on the planet and it is upto organisations (lets face it, the softly, softly approach never works) to bring this issue to the forefront and to try and tackle this problem before it gets beyond our control and for nature to decide how we will or will not exist as a species?

    There is a saying I am sure you are aware of ‘ Ignorance is bliss ‘, and no doubt many people will say this about my comments…………but what price (what irony, using a monetary description as a metaphor for the survival of our species lol) do we have to pay before it is too late ?

    I would suggest Ali, before judging, learn more about the organisations and what they do, but more importantly, why they are doing what they do.

  • John Tulloch

    • October 29th, 2013 21:01


    You are taking a strong lead here which you could reinforce by example.

    As opposed to shopping at the top capitalist shop in Shetland, you could lead by example on global warming by stepping across to your electricity mainswitch and shifting it into the “OFF” position.

    Then you wouldn’t have to spend all your time watching the BBC and telling us all about it on the internet when you could be out there delling the rigs of your croft and painting your fishing boat for next year and you could trade your neeps and tatties for some whale oil to burn in your lamps so that you can see to light the fire with the wrack-wid you carried hame from the beach after you were painting your boat to keep you warm.

    Or perhaps, not? Burning the oil and wrack-wid would unleash carbon dioxide on the atmosphere. Oh, dear me, what a dilemma! How will you reconcile your selfish wants of light and warmth with nature?

    If only the world was a little warmer, that would help.

  • Ali Inkster

    • October 29th, 2013 21:58

    There is more to shopping than Tesco and the co-op, and with a bit of intelligent shopping you will find that neither of them are the cheapest, and certainly not the best deal in Shetland.

  • David Spence

    • October 29th, 2013 23:52

    Hello Clive, I take your point in regards to what you have said, but looking at various factors related to the cost of living, the UK still proves to be the most expensive in Europe for food, train transportation, alcohol, tobacco, private schooling, private health care, private child care (actually the most expensive in the world) automobiles, clothing (near enough equal with Denmark) and many other factors related to the cost of living in proportion to income.

    I was surprised to see that the second best country in the world to live in was France with Austria being the number 1 country in the world to reside in terms of quality of life.

    Although Norway pays high taxes, it was also one of the top countries in the world with the best quality of life, education, transportation and health.

    The USA (a country the Tories would love this country to emulate) was behind most European countries as well as countries in the far east on practically every aspect related to the cost and quality of life categories…….despite the fact the USA trances every country with over 422 Billionaires………as said, capitalism, the selfish ideology.

  • David Spence

    • October 30th, 2013 7:53

    Ali, something I forgot to mention in my previous blog too you.

    If the present rate of global warming continues, it is estimated the ice at the North Pole will be completely gone by the year 2050, which, I am sure you will realize, will have a drastic affect on the North Atlantic Ocean Currents as well as the Gulf Steam. It will not have an affect on global sea levels as the ice at the North Pole floats on water.

    It is also believed, based on weather models, that the UK and Europe, strange as this may sound with global warming, will actually become colder with the weather becoming a lot wetter and more frequent stronger winds.

    Inclusive to this, it is estimated that by the year 2040 over 30% of all mammals will become extinct as a consequence of human activity.

    If the ice on Greenland melts, sea levels globally will rise by 7 metres. However, although it may be unlikely, if the ice at the Antarctic melts (which is landbase), global sea levels will rise by at least 60 metres. Combine the 2, sea levels rising by at least 67 – 70 metres.

    Mind you, the Antarctic ice approximately contains 90% of the worlds ice or about 70% of the world’s fresh water and is approximately 2,100 metres thick, so it may take some time to melt lol

    Will this have a drastic affect on the environment, human populations and activity? In a word ‘ YES!!!! ‘

    So, something to look forward too lol

  • clive munro

    • October 30th, 2013 12:20

    Ah David, despite all the flak you’ve received on this thread you’ve shown, beyond any shadow of doubt, a politician’s knack for ignoring any unwanted, or uncomfortable, criticism and simply ploughing ahead with your own agenda. Very impressive. So, here’s what I suggest. Join your local community council, and gain some grassroots political experience. Next, stand for the full council and gain wider experience, while at the same time trying to improve the lives of the less fortunate among us. Then, having, hopefully, impressed your fellow islanders sufficiently, seek election to the Scottish or U.K. parliaments and try to make a real difference at national level. That, for someone with your burning passion, ought to be the way to do it. Though it would, of course, be a lot of hard work and maybe you’re content simply to regale us with your daily sermons, even though they’re extremely unlikely to make a blind bit of difference to the issues which move you or, more importantly, to those vile Tories you so despise. Lol, as you so love to say!

  • Sheila Tulloch

    • October 30th, 2013 12:38

    Cripes David, all that just because the Co-op members held a meeting in Islesburgh the other night?! Lol

  • Stewart Mac

    • October 30th, 2013 13:18


    I’m not getting into a debate with you with my position on x,y or z, as in the context of this discussion it is irrelevant – and particularly so when it is so wildly off topic, i will not be distracted from your original posts.

    I am simply pointing out, as others will have no doubt noticed, your excessive and over the top use of the words “vile” and “capitalist” in a surprising number of your posts on this forum yet by your very actions you actively support the very things you purport to detest with such vigour. I simply find that very very funny.


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