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Unst Community Council


Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 5th October 2015 at 7 pm at the Baltasound School, Music Huts


Gordon Thomson,

Pat Burns

Minnie Mouatt

John Peterson

Raymond Priest

Hazel Spence

Julie Thomson

Gary Cleaver, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)



Toby Sandison, Unst Partnership

Pat Christie, Community Learning and Development Officer

Josie McMillan, Clerk


01/10/15       Apologies:

Claire Priest

Janice Priest

Robert Henderson, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

Steven Coutts, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)


02/10/15       Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 10th September 2015 were approved, proposed by Julie, seconded by Hazel

03/10/15       Matters Arising from last minutes

07/05/15.4 SIC Housing

Colva Peterson has been appointed as the housing support officer for Unst and Fetlar. Her duties include dealing with matters affecting all of the Council’s social housing tenants as well as those in sheltered housing. This post replaces the Sheltered Housing wardens who finished at the end of July. Gary agreed to find out where Colva will be based.

07/05/15.6 Meeting for North Isles Community Councils – Emergency timetable Bluemull Sound

There has been no further word about the emergency timetable. The Bigga is still out of service because of gearbox problems. Gary explained that the Ferries Department is keen for Transport Scotland to pay towards the inter-island ferry service. This would help maintain the ferry service.               

09/05/15.6 Windsock

The Council has now removed the pole that the windsock was on. The airstrip is still being used by planes and the Coastguard helicopter. Gary explained that these aircraft use the airstrip at their own risk as the airstrip has been delisted by the SIC. Gary will speak to Scottish Air Ambulance to ask if they will put up a windsock as they are the main user at present. There was a discussion about the lights. There are no longer any fixed lights that work. The Coastguard puts out portable lights when the helicopter needs to land.

09/05/15.7 Fixed Link

Gary explained that the options for providing inter island transport links will be developed and explored in detail by the Council and Transport Scotland, fixed links will be included in this. It is anticipated that this work will be complete early in 2016.

07/07/15.1 North Isles: Investing in Energy Isles – Representation on BenCom Group

Pat has heard nothing more about setting up the BenCom. Energy Isles is offering two shares for each of the North Isles. A seventh share is being offered to be shared among the North Isles. This share has to be paid back on the dividend from the shares. There is still a long way to go on setting this all up. Gordon has agreed to be the second person on the BenCom group from Unst, along with Pat.

07/07/15.3 Stiles at Woodwick

Kevin Serginson, SIC Walks and Footpaths officer, has spoken to the tenant and also the land agent for the National Trust for Scotland about the stiles on the way to Woodwick. The SIC is planning to put in new stiles and create a clearly marked route, which will be a slightly different route to the one where the old dilapidated stiles and boardwalks are. Mr Serginson explains that this is due in part to land management needs, but also to the very wet and boggy nature of the valley bottom path.  This route is over a shorter, drier route and will require far less infrastructure to make is useable. Mr Serginson says that assuming he can finalise an agreement with NTS his intention is to do the work that has been identified in the next financial year as he has no budget available to carry it out this financial year.

07/07/15.4 Historic Scotland – turning place at Muness

There has been no word from Historic Scotland. The Clerk will contact them again.

06/09/15.5 Refugee Crisis

There were 25 big refuse sacks of clothing donations collected at the Unst Partnership office for the Refugee Appeal.  

06/09/15.6 Roads

Neil Hutcheson, Roads, has emailed to say that the work will hopefully be done when the programme of resurfacing works for this year is complete. This is likely to be in a period from mid-December to mid-January weather permitting. He explains that the Council would wait until March and hopefully slightly better weather before attempting any resurfacing work in Unst.  Mr Hutcheson goes on to say that the temporary road closures and road opening notices required by legislation cannot be changed at short notice. The works to be done in September include the new AHS roundabout with the surfacing there time critical for the project. The A969 South Road is also to be resurfaced with a type of asphalt that requires reasonable temperatures when being compacted. Mr Hutcheson explains that the weather and the distance to be travelled will play a part in whether to resurface in March. With a load of asphalt causing in excess of £1,500 for the materials alone the Council would be reluctant to begin in low temperatures or if there is a possibility of ferry delays due to poor weather. Unfortunately, these works are capital funded through the “gateway” process. Should the Council decide that they cannot proceed this financial year it is a possibility, perhaps unlikely since the works have already been approved, that they would not receive this funding again. Assuming that funding is approved it would be 2017/18 at the earliest before the work could be done due to the length of time taken to prepare, report and get approval for the business case.

04/10/15       Unst Partnership Update

Toby said that the Welcome Pack is now online and there had already been requests for paper copies which have been sent out. Toby had met with Mary Leask, SIC, about the processor for green waste. Ms Leask had explained that there is a very prescriptive list of what can be composted. And it is very important how the waste is collected. She had also pointed out that there needs to be a lot of storage space. Compost has to be tested before it can be sold so batches would have to be stored. The Hydrogen Project is progressing with the 1st option appraisal due by the end of October. Gordon explained that UP had approached AB Associates to carry out a tourist survey. There was a discussion about how to gather the information needed, i.e. comparing ferry usage over the summer months against the winter months. There has been a lot of information already gathered on tourism for the Halligarth report and also the survey which was done on the ferries. Pat Christie said that there had been a study conducted by the Skerries Community on tourism. The information was compiled into a report which is available on the Skerries ferry and Loganair. She is going to get a copy of this for our next meeting.

05/10/15       Application for Donations

05/10/15.1 Unst Youth Centre

It was agreed to give a donation of £250 towards the costs of the Youth Club holding a fireworks party.

06/10/15       Application for Planning

There were no applications for planning

07/10/15       Community Council Finances

There has been no expenditure since last meeting.

08/10/15       A.O.C.B.

08/10/15.1 ASCC Meeting 3rd October 2015

Gordon attended this meeting. He said that there was a discussion about the costs of organising the biannual meetings. Most Community Councils felt it was worthwhile to meet twice a year. There was a discussion about the road layout changes at the Brig of Fitch. The ASCC had suggested a turn-off lane but the Council didn’t see the need for that and had put an island in the road turn of for Scalloway. There had been a discussion about the grass cutting pilot in Bressay. The plan is for the Bressay Community Council to manage their areas SIC budget for grass cutting as a pilot for the Council. If this is a success the Council plans to roll it out to other Community Councils. Members felt that this would have to be very carefully managed. Pat Christie thought that Bressay were looking to get a self-employed person to do the work. She wasn’t sure how advanced the pilot was. Jan Riise, SIC, had encouraged all Community Councillors to read the SIC Corporate Plan and also the Scottish Government’s Islands Bill. Helen Budge, SIC, spoke to the ASCC meeting about the Curriculum for Excellence Senior Phase. The Council had set up Academies for Engineering and Social Care, which were working well. She had also spoken about the plans to reduce the number of subjects studied to six. Gary explained that many Councils in Scotland had already done this or were considering implementing this. National 5s are more complex and have a different structure than earlier qualifications. Gordon said that standard grades were done over two years where National 5 was done over one year. Jim Anderson, Lerwick Community Council, spoke about the planned asymmetric week. It is proposed to finish the school week at 2pm on a Friday. Mr Anderson suggested starting the week at 11am on a Monday. This would give the isles pupils an extra night at home, which would have implications for hostel and staff costs etc. Gordon said that there was also a suggestion that all schools had the same timetable. This would help with teachers moving between schools. All these proposals have to be discussed with unions and parent councils. Whalsay and Aith schools already have earlier closing on a Friday. Vaila Simpson had told the meeting that there had been a good response to the Building Budgets meetings. There had been 244 responses, 191 of these completed online. The Unst meeting had been well attended, the people there had appreciated being able to speak to the Councillors in a normal setting when it wasn’t a negative meeting.

08/10/15.2 SIC Ferries Review Impact Assessment

Unst Community Council (UCC) responded to the SIC Ferries Review Impact Assessment by stating that while it is grateful for the continuing ferry service provided by the crews to the North Isles, UCC would like to make the following points:-

  • to request some kind of local resident/frequent user concession for people travelling across the Sounds which is below the present "10 Journey" ticket price. People on lower incomes working across the Sound e.g. Care workers or Salmon workers have to pay a considerable amount to get to their work. At £84.80 for a 10 journey car ticket, someone working a 5 day week for 46 weeks would be paying £1950. Almost £2000 pa. For some people on a minimum wage, this would make them better off on Benefits than working. Now that more accurate figures are being logged for travel on Bluemull Sound, we believe a case can be made for a frequent user season ticket eg 3 months duration.
  • UCC continue to have concerns about the number of days/times that the Bluemull Sound ferries are off-service for maintenance or repairs. Unst and Fetlar are often going down to a single vessel service on Bluemull Sound. As time goes on, we feel these ferries will need more repairs and break down more often. And we are left to provide the "back-up" ferry for other ferries too - another reason to make a Single Vessel service more likely.
  • When we go to a Single Vessel service, the "Saturday timetable" does not always fit in well with sailings on Yell Sound during weekdays. Nor commuters getting to their work. 

UCC has welcomed the willingness of Ferry Services to put on extra ferries for local events eg Unst Show/UnstFest/weddings etc. The electronic booking service also seems to work well.

08/10/15.3 Community Ferries for Fiddle and Accordion Festival

The Clerk emailed Peter Leask to ask why there was no Fiddle and Accordion concert in the North Isles. He replied saying that they would have liked to have had a concert in the North Isles again this year but when they were planning the programme late last year they were given the distinct impression by both Sellaness and the Booking office that a Community Council run was highly unlikely given the economic situation. For this reason they could not take the risk and had to take a decision as the festival finances could not run to paying for a full ferry hire on top of the other expenses such as bus transport, meals etc. The Fiddle and Accordion Committee have to balance the cost against the potential income from ticket sales. Attendances at the Isles concerts tend to be lower than mainland ones. In 2011 they sold 60 at Uyeasound, in 2012 they sold 90 at Cullivoe, in 2013 they sold 65 at Baltasound and in 2014 they only sold 40 at Burravoe. Christine Murchison from the Shetland Folk Festival Society also contacted the Clerk to say that they would hold a Folk Festival concert in the North Isles If they can get a guarantee that a Community Council Ferry Hire would be available next year. They are looking at the possibility of having it in Unst. Ms Murchison explains that “their main problem is that they need to find out in advance if additional costs would be involved if they don't get a community hire as everything is being squeezed with their funding being further cut this year by the Charitable Trust.  Also since the programme really has to be in place sooner than March it makes it complicated if there are "ifs and buts" in the equation!” After a discussion it was agreed to email both The Folk Festival and the Accordion and Fiddle groups to say that the Community Council could use one of its Community hire, but it would pay for half the hire if the groups would pay the other half. This is what the Community Councils in Yell and Whalsay do.

08/10/15.4 Sign and Musical Boat, Belmont

Lesley Gray, Unst Youth Centre, has asked Art Machine for a quote for a printed sign which replicates the original design. There was a discussion about the Musical Boat which was designed and made by Unst Creative. Members would like a group to take on responsibility for repairing or replacing the boat. There were several options discussed. This will be discussed again at the next meeting. There were also concerns raised about the double decker bus at Belmont. Tourists still believe it is a café. It is looking unsightly. This will be followed up by contacting the owner.


The next meeting will be held on Monday 9th November 2015 at 7.00 pm in the Baltasound School



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