Unst Community Council   Unst Community Council
Unst Community Council

Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 22nd June 2020  at 6.30 pm using Webex Phone Conferencing


Patrick Fordyce, Chair

Claire Priest, Vice Chair

David Cooper

Caroline Hunter

Janice Priest

Hazel Spence

Gordon Thomson

Julie Thomson

Alec Priest, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

Ryan Thomson, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)


Frances Browne, Community Involvement and Development Officer

Josie McMillan, Clerk

01/06/20      Apologies:

John Peterson

PC Angela Manson

Duncan Anderson, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

Michael Duncan, Community Council Liaison Officer


Patrick welcomed everybody to this “Historic” Meeting.  The first time the Community Council was meeting officially using phone conferencing, not a face to face meeting.  He thanked everybody for attending and asked Ryan if he would update everyone on what has been happening within the Council.  Ryan said that the ferry service will be starting to run its summer timetable from the 29th June, although it will still be stopping slightly early.  This should not affect the Unst runs too much, the 10.50pm into Unst will not run. Ryan explained that this will be a relatively temporary situation.  He said that the account cards had been a success and the SIC intend to continue using them for residents and people working in the North Isles.  The introduction of card payments on the ferries had been shelved because of the current situation but would be going ahead later on. The books of ten tickets will still be available, but Ryan understands that people of low incomes cannot purchase these because of the cost, so using the account cards will help them.  Ryan said that the Northlink ferries have now resumed their normal timetable.  Ryan and Alec both said that no one should be punished for living in the isles.

Patrick asked Alec if he had any points to raise.  Alec said that the fibre optic cable will hopefully be laid within the next 4 to 5 months.  It had been delayed because of the pandemic.  He was asked if the ferries were taking unbooked cars, as someone had been at Toft and there had been unbooked cars which the ferry took on.  Alec explained that the ferries were not as strict as they had been at the beginning of the lockdown, but if there are no bookings then the ferries will not run.

02/06/20      Minutes from the Last Meeting

The minutes from the meeting held on Monday 23rd March 2020 were proposed by Gordon and seconded by David.

03/06/20      Declaration of Interest

Janice declared an interest in agenda item 10/06/20.1  Shetland Space Centre Proposed Development.

04/06/20      Matters Arising from last minutes           

There were no matters arising from the last meeting,

05/06/20      Unst Partnership (UP) Update. 

The UP shop closed on 14th March and has not been trading since, so it is losing £1000 a month. They did receive a £10k business support grant and furloughed their one part time staff member. UP are looking at renting two containers to store and clean shop goods before they go on sale but do not have a suitable site yet for the containers. Shop layout makes distancing and staff protection difficult, but they are keen to start trading when they can, within government guidelines.  UP registered as the Anchor Organisation for Unst, along with the Community Council.  UP received £4800 from HIE for Food assistance and a community newsletter. Funds were budgeted to last until July but with restrictions still in place they asked for a further £3400 to last until the end of September. Any money unspent goes back to HIE.  With permission from HIE, they have extended the grant to cover pet food, electricity vouchers for people working with a key card and petrol for NHS volunteers delivering prescriptions. The fund is in line with the budget, spending being approximately £1000 per month.
UP received £3000 from the SIC Community Development Fund to go towards a £5k project to buy land and draw up plans for a Community hub at Hagdale, north of the track to the Nissan hut. This would house a recycling centre with repair and restore facilities, storage for larger shop goods, a laundry, office and meeting area. Other plans are for a community garden area with raised beds and/or polycrub, a scrap wood pile and a food composter.  UP received a further £2k from the Corra Foundation for community support, part of a grant application made by Voluntary Action Shetland.  Community skips are proving tricky as the Shetland Amenity Trust workers who take metal and white goods are on furlough, with no word of when they will be back to work. Garriocks are willing to come in July but can only spare one driver at present. So UP could go ahead but not take large metal items or white goods. The SIC are considering supplying community skips to rural areas but UP have not heard when or if this is going ahead.  Gordon suggested that the Community Council could host a participatory budgeting event to allocate their Community Development funding.  UP are less likely to run their participatory budgeting event due to loss of earnings.  Gordon asked Community Councillors if they were in favour of UP organising a skip day.  Patrick asked if there were any objections to this, there were none. 

David asked if he could put down two markers as to how the Community Funding (SCBF and other funding) coming into Unst could be spent: extending the fibre optic cabling to private households and to do something about the level of fuel poverty on Unst.  He understands that there are already schemes in place for fuel poverty, but still many households do not qualify for various reasons.  Alec said that the current fibre broadband scheme was going into SIC and Health Centre buildings.  There is a new scheme being introduced by the Scottish Government linking fibre broadband to households.  The SIC are making a big push to get in to this scheme, so it is better not to use community funding for this.

Frances suggested that the Community Council should invite Marvin Smith to attend a future meeting.  It was agreed to do that.  She also thought a participatory budgeting event would be a good way of allocating funds.

Ryan said that the Council is looking at reintroducing skips into areas that do not have them.  They are looking at the costs of this.  Ryan said this was very much Community Council led and that the existing scheme in Unst run by UP worked really well.  There is always the concern of commercial businesses using the skips, which is what happened in the past, although the way the UP scheme is set up this does not cause any problems.

06/06/20      Community Involvement Update

Frances emailed her report before the meeting.  She said that during Covid-19 they have undertaken some of their normal duties and also some duties different from their normal.   Frances has checked in with the community organisations in the North Isles, mostly those with buildings or assets to maintain, to see if they were concerned about the impact Covid-19 would have on them.  Most organisations, although they would feel the financial impact, had enough reserves to be able to manage.   The organisations who felt the impact most were those with high ongoing costs, and those that would lose income gained through tourism.   As the weeks progressed the Corona Business Support Grant became available to charities who gain relief from paying rates, and all the eligible groups in Unst have applied.   There is one group waiting to hear back at this time and all that have heard back were successful.  Frances was able to report at the meeting that all groups have now heard back and have been successful.  This should alleviate any financial concerns for organisations in the short term.     Frances has also been keeping in touch with the groups who have become ‘Community Anchor Groups’ and have received the Supporting Communities Funding.   

07/06/20      Application for planning

Planning Ref:



Change of use from business to domestic use to create addition living space


Westside Shop, Uyeasound, Unst, Shetland ZE2 9DW


Fabien Kuntz

Date of Consultation:

11 May 2020

This was circulated and approved by email.                          

Planning Ref:



Install a 10m telecoms mast to aid with the development of the North Isles Fibre network


Near A968, Unst , Shetland


Mr Marvin Smith

Date of Consultation:

12 June 2020


There were no objections.

08/06/20      Unadopted Roads – Advertise Shops, Post Office and Facebook

These grants will be advertised.

09/06/20      Application for grants – Advertise Shops, Post Office and Facebook

These grants will be advertised.

10/06/20 Correspondence

10/06/20.1 Shetland Space Centre (SSC) Proposed Development

There was a three day online consultation in early May.  This was part of the preplanning application; the full planning application will be submitted in September.  The Community Council asked the community for questions and submitted the 35 questions received.  A copy of the questions and answers are attached to the minutes.  Several Community Councillors attended.  Caroline kindly took notes each night and these were circulated to everybody.  The Community Council came in for a lot of criticism, people thought that members were pushing through the SSC and not advertising meetings.  All Community Council meetings are open to the public and minutes are posted in the shop, Post Office and on the SIC website www.shetland.gov.uk/communitycouncils and the Shetland Community Portal www.shetland-communities.org.uk/subsites/ucc/   Ryan said that maybe the community needed a reminder that all Community Council minutes are made public. There was a discussion about this, it was agreed to put this on the agenda for the next meeting so that all members could put forward their views on SSC.  And discuss how to deal with anonymous complaints and criticisms. There was also a discussion about Social Media and what should be put on that.  Someone suggested that the best plan was not to reply to negative posts.  Patrick felt that there should be a policy drawn up and that he should know beforehand what is put on Facebook.  Gordon suggested sharing information before it is posted on Facebook so that everyone knows what is being posted.  Frances said that she could follow up Community Council’s use of social media with Michael Duncan and report back at the next meeting. 

10/06/20.2  Easting Kirkyard

Patrick attended the ASCC meeting in March where kirkyards had been discussed but this had only been about grass cutting, which is going to be done more regularly this year.  Yvonne Scott, SIC Burials Officer, replied to our query to say that the original decision was made in 2019 to disallow future full interments at the Easting Burial Ground because of the very rocky ground and access challenges the yard presents. However, following heartfelt representations made by local people, this decision was reversed in February 2020 when it was agreed that future full interments would be permitted for those who have already shown interest.  Other than these pre-approved interments into the prepared lairs there will be no further full interments permitted within the Easting Burial Ground.  However, ashes interments will be permitted during the summer months for those who already have lair holdings and where depth is available.  The Council has engaged with a contractor to prepare (excavate and backfill) these pre-approved lairs within the Easting Burial Ground, but due to the current lockdown restrictions this work has not yet commenced.  Once restrictions are lifted these lairs will be prepared.  Ms Scott says that the SIC very much regret that this situation occurred and apologise for any distress this has caused.   Ryan and Alec have both had representations from the community about this and have informed the relevant individuals about the change in policy.

10/06/20.3  Shetland Community Benefit Fund (SCBF)

There was SCBF meeting Wednesday night which Gordon had attended. He said that Viking Energy are still forging ahead. SSE are waiting Ofgem permission to go ahead but appear confident. Funding is going to be on 3 tiers, £50-£500, £501-£5k and £5001 upwards. Each Community Council would get about £10k per annum and would decide who received grants, based on SCBF criteria. Basically, money has to benefit the community in some way.

10/06/20.4  Shetland Island Council Ferries

Gordon attended a Ferries meeting on Wednesday night.  He said the plan is to restore Summer timetable from 29th June. There was a lot of debate about other timetables which came to nothing.  There is still some doubt about later evening ferries and whether there will be a 9.30pm Ulsta ferry to link with the 8.45pm from Belmont. SIC Councillors are still to decide on this, so the Community Council could still push for this if we feel it is going to be used.  Ryan said that discussions were still going on and that he would push for this, although he thought it might run on a bookings only basis.

11/06/20      Community Council Finances

11/06/20.1  Community Development Fund Application

Unst Community Council has been awarded £3000 Community Development Grant.  This money is usually used for Da Voar Redd Up payments.  Frances said that because there has been no Voar Redd Up, UnstFest or Farmers Markets a lot of groups will not have had the opportunity to raise funds so might need to apply to the Community Council for funding to keep going.

11/03/20.3  Accounts prepared to be audited by Voluntary Action Shetland

The accounts are being audited by Voluntary Action Shetland.

12/03/20      A.O.C.B.

12/03/20.1  SIC Bin Men (Essy Kart)

This was discussed at the meeting in March 2020.  Ryan said that he is following this up.  The jobs will be advertised in the North Isles as it makes a lot more economic sense than the vehicle travelling from Lerwick every day. There has already been interest in the jobs from people in the community.  Yell Community Council is also chasing this up.  Ryan said that he will let the Community Council know any progress on this.  In normal times these jobs would have been advertised and people in post by now. 


13/06/20      Date of next meeting

The next meeting is set for Monday 3rd August 2020.  Format to be decided nearer the time.

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