Unst Community Council   Unst Community Council
Unst Community Council
Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 13th November 2017 at 7 pm in the Baltasound School, English Room


Gordon Thomson

Pat Burns

Minnie Mouatt

John Peterson

Claire Priest

Janice Priest

Raymond Priest

Hazel Spence

Julie Thomson


Tavish Scott, MSP

Frank Strang, Shetland Space Centre

Kenn Allan, Shetland Islands Council Estates

Frances Browne, Community Learning and Development Officer

Alec Priest, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

Duncan Simpson, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

Ryan Thomson, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

Caroline Hunter, Chair of Unst Community Health Support Group

Two members of the community

Josie McMillan, Clerk          

01/11/17     Apologies:

No apologies


10/11/17.4  NHS Shetland – North Isles Project

Gordon welcomed everybody to the meeting.  It was decided that the first agenda item would be Caroline Hunter, Chair of Unst Community Health Support Group (UCHSG).  Caroline explained that the group had been set up comprising of members from the local community, health professionals and NHS Shetland.  There had been a meeting of this group with Hazel Sutherland, Head of Planning and Modernisation, and Simon Bokor-Ingram, Director of Community Health & Social Care, present to discuss the North Isles Project.  Caroline said that Unst, like many other rural practices, was struggling to secure the services of a permanent doctor, relying on locum doctors and often locum nurses as well.  The North Isles co production project will look at options for the future delivery of services.  Hazel Sutherland said that they will be looking at everything from the “bottom up”.  Gordon said that the status quo isn’t an option at the moment because of the problems recruiting permanent doctors.  The cost of using locum doctors and nurses is not financially viable in the long term.  The UCHSG will be involved in working out options.  Frances said that at the moment there are no set plans and that NHS Shetland genuinely want community input. The next step is drawing up a code of conduct and looking at what models of service might be available.  Claire explained that this was an opportunity that the community had to be involved in; the alternative was that NHS Shetland might impose something without consultation.  Tavish Scott said that the community should argue for a GP lead service.  He said that the British Medical Association, Scotland has just signed a new contract reconfiguring national contracts for GPs.  Tavish agreed to help the UCHSG with this co production project.  Caroline said that every island has different needs and would be treated as such, no one model fits all.


02/11/17     Tavish Scott, MSP and  03/11/17  Frank Strang, Saxa Vord Ltd

These two agenda items were taken together.

Gordon welcomed Frank Strang, Tavish Scott and Kenn Allan, SIC Estates, to the meeting.  Mr Strang handed out an information pack – “Shetland Space Centre, Satellite Launch Facility”.  He explained that the UK Government had secured cross party support to deliver a space capability to the marketplace. This consists of two options a) a Space Port, which requires a very long runway to allow for manned spaceflight, and b) a Satellite Launch facility to allow for the vertical launch of satellites into Polar and Sun Synchronous orbits.  Mr Strang said that the second option is the only one that may be delivered in Shetland.  He explained that the UK Space Agency had invited interested parties to present sites suitable for this development, in the north of Scotland. The site selection process was undertaken by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  The report, which was compiled by leading experts within the space industry, was called the Sceptre Report and stated in its executive summary that the best site was Saxavord, Unst.  Saxavord met all the primary criteria for this, but Unst and Shetland were initially overlooked.  The Shetland Space Centre (SSC) is now preparing a business case supported by HIE and Shetland Islands Council (SIC).  He praised both organisations for their help, saying that the SIC had been unequivocal in its support of the project. 

Mr Strang, Kenn Allan (SIC) and Scott Hammond (SSC) have met with the UK Space Agency.  There have also been meetings with the Ministry of Defence (MOD).  The MOD is already building a Radar at the top of Saxavord and are happy with the new project plans and are willing to provide a tracking service.   Mr Strang said that Shetland has a lot of different skill sets, a lot of which were developed in the oil and gas sector. If this project goes ahead the economic benefits to the communities of Unst and Shetland are potentially enormous.  Various options are being considered for a launch site: the former MOD aerial farm north of Saxa Vord hill, Lamba Ness or along the north coast of Skaw. 

Mr Strang was asked what the plans for the airstrip were and if it would be used to provide flights.  He said that it would cost too much to extend the airstrip and bring it up to standard.  The plans at the moment were for the airstrip to be used for the industrial units and stores and maybe for the control systems and offices. Flights would be to and from Scatsta.  There might still be helicopter activities at the airstrip.

Mr Strang has met with Malcolm Macdonald, director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications at Strathclyde University, who is very supportive of the bid. There have been a lot of interested parties up in Unst on site visits; some of them have spoken to local businesses.  The bid will be submitted early next year. Mr Strang said that it was not a “done deal” but it was very winnable.  The licence will be issued by the UK Space Agency.

Tavish Scott said that he has spoken to Scottish Government ministers in supporting Unst. To win the bid we need the Scottish government and its main agency HIE to be 100 per cent behind Unst. As Unst is the location that industry wants, that should be straight forward.  The Ministry of Defence reinstating the radar at Saxavord is a game changer in Unst being the place for satellite launches. The radar means that industry can track the launches. No other site in Scotland can offer this service so there are huge advantages to the Unst case. “I will be working with all the parties concerned to make sure Unst wins this work,” said Mr Scott.

Mr Strang was asked who would manage the project. He answered that his company would in partnership with Garth Estates.  At present the UK sends satellites to India, China, Kazakhstan and Russia to launch.  The Satellite launch site will be the only one in Europe once it is built. 

Mr Strang said that if SSC is awarded the project they would be keen to use local contractors.  He outlined some of the benefits to the Shetland community: highly skilled, well-paid jobs, with young skilled graduates retained  in the islands.  A lot of the infrastructure is already in place on Unst: school, health centre, leisure centre, roads, ferries etc.  Mr Strang said that a fire crew would need to be trained up to provide cover at satellite launches, possibly using the retained crew presently serving in Unst.  He was asked if the poor broadband service would hinder the project; he said that there would need to be a reliable, fast broadband service.

Mr Strang said that he is organising for someone to come up to speak to the SIC about Satellites and the launch facility.  He asked if he should bring this person up to Unst to speak to the community.  It was agreed that this would be useful. 

Gordon thanked Frank Strang, Tavish Scott and Kenn Allen for coming along to the meeting. 

They left the meeting.  Also, Ryan, Alec, Duncan, and Caroline left at 8.30pm.


04/11/17     Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on Monday 2nd October 2017 were approved by Julie, seconded by Claire. 


05/11/17     Matters Arising from last minutes

08/07/16.1 Lund Kirkyard Road

Alec had followed up this matter with Neil Hutcheson, SIC Roads.  Mr Hutcheson told him that the cost of bringing the road up to a standard, including installing grids, would be in excess of £50,000.  Therefore, it is unlikely that the Roads Service would ever be in a position where it could formally adopt this access. The current situation is that the Council’s “medium term financial plan” does not permit the use of capital monies on the acquisition or construction of new infrastructure or assets and requires that it is only used to maintain existing assets.  Gordon has also spoken to Christopher Cassels from the National Trust for Scotland but has not made any progress in finding out who is responsible for the gates on the road.

Gordon also asked Mr Cassells if NTS had any plans to sell any of the houses they own on Unst e.g. Houlland.  Mr Cassells said that NTS has had requests to buy the property in the past but they felt it should remain in hand as they work to progress the Halligarth project.

09/03/17.7  Bus Shelter at the Uyeasound Hall

A works order for the repair of the bus shelter has been issued to the North Isles Foreman.  Members raised concerns that there is nothing securing the back of the shelter to the front.  This is a hazard to the young children who use the shelter. The Clerk is to write again to Neil Hutcheson.

10/05/17.7  Greenwell’s Booth and Easting Signs

Gordon has contacted Davy Couper, SAT, who told him that the order for the signs has been sent off.                    

10/07/17.4  Leawart Road used as turning place

Mr Hutcheson, SIC Roads, replied to the query saying that he had placed a works order with their contractor for the provision of a “turning point” sign below the existing “Skaw Road Closed” sign and a “No Through Road” or dead end sign on the route to the old Skaw road. Hopefully, this will suggest to these drivers that they should turn at the bus shelter. Mr Hutcheson said that the Council have also agreed not to charge the householder for the surface dressing on the section of their access that is still used as a turning head.

10/08/17.2  Street Lighting, East Road, Uyeasound

Alec had followed up on the query about the East Road streetlighting with Neil Hutcheson, SIC Roads.  Mr Hutcheson said that the streetlights were removed in accordance with the Council’s “streetlighting reduction” policy. He said that “there were no comments received from residents” of East Road during the Council’s “Have Your Say” meetings with the general public held throughout Shetland in 2011.

10/08/17.4  Janice Hawick, Energy Advice Service, Shetland Citizens Advice Bureau

The Clerk will contact Janice Hawick about attending the December meeting to give a presentation about what the Energy Advice Service can do for clients.

12/10/12.2  Festive Timetable

The Festive Timetable has already been published.  The Community Council had emailed about some minor alterations and were told that someone from the Ferries Department would get back to them but no-one did.  Gordon has contacted ferries again but no reply has been received.

12/10/12.3  Benches in Uyeasound

The provision of benches in Uyeasound might be something which could be applied for as a special project when the Community Council applies for its Community Development Funding – Special Projects.

12/10/12.4  Ferries Issues

There has been no reply from Michael Craigie, Zetrans, about the suggestion that the timings of starting and stopping the summer timetable be changed. The summer timetable could be started later, at the beginning of May, and ending later at the end of September. 

12/10/12.7  Broadband Services

Broadband services are still very poor.  This was discussed in connection with the Shetland Space Centre project, which will need reliable fast broadband. 

12/10/12.8  Baltasound Pier

The work on the pier has now been completed.  There was a discussion about a need for a pontoon at the pier, but it would need a group to see funding for this as the SIC will not replace the old one.  There is no place for yachts to tie up.


06/11/17     Unst Partnership (UP) Update

Gordon said that UP is working on buying Unit 1 instead of renting it.  The unit has now been valued.  UP will now approach HIE regarding Community Asset Transfer and apply to the Scottish Land Fund for funding towards the costs of buying the unit.  They also need to get two insurance quotes, as UP will own the unit not rent it.  The next skip day is Saturday 25th November 2017, from 10.45 – 1.15pm.  Gordon said that the Shetland Amenity Trust skip for the metal and white goods will be there.


07/11/17     Community Involvement Update

Frances said that the biggest thing she is involved with at the moment is the Health Project which was discussed at the beginning of the meeting.  She mentioned the training for Community Councillors which is on Saturday 25th November, and training for Clerks which will be organised soon.


08/11/17  Application for Donations

08/11/17.1  Unst Youth Centre

It was agreed to give a donation of £300 towards the cost of purchasing fireworks for the community event.

08/11/17.2  Uyeasound Hall  Bairns Christmas Tree Party

It was agreed to give a donation of £144 towards the Uyeasound Hall bairns Christmas party.

08/11/17.3  Unst Under 5s  Bairns Christmas Tree Party

It was agreed to give a donation of £132 towards the costs of their Christmas Party.


09/11/17     Community Council Finances

The income and expenditure spreadsheet was discussed.


10/11/17     A.O.C.B.

10/11/17.1 Community Ferry Runs

There was a discussion about community ferry runs and the impact on Community events when they are restricted by ferry capacity and availability.  There is a meeting about this on Tuesday 5th December in the Ulsta Hall.  Gordon and John are going to attend.

10/11/17.2  Community Council Training 25th November 2017

There is a training day in Lerwick for Community Councillors on Saturday 25th November 2017.  It is in Solarhus from 10.30am to 2pm.  It will cover the roles and responsibilities of Community Councillors,   Community Engagement & Consultation,  Recruitment of Community Councillors.  John can attend this.

10/11/17.3  Scrap Cars

A member of the community has contacted Gordon about two scrap cars in Nikkavord Lea.  There are several cars that need to be picked up at various places in Unst.  Gordon is going to contact SAT and 60 North Recycling about getting these collected.

10/11/17.4  NHS Shetland – North Isles Project

See first meeting item.            

10/11/17.5  Shetland Amenity Trust Unst Jobs

After a discussion it was agreed to write to Shetland Amenity Trust expressing the Community Council’s concerns about the threat to SAT jobs in Unst.


The next meeting will be held on Monday 11th December 2017 at 7.00 pm in the Baltasound School

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