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Unst Community Council


Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 22nd September 2014 at 7.00 pm at the Baltasound School, Music Huts



Laurence Robertson, Gordon Thomson, Minnie Mouatt, Janice Priest, Raymond Priest, Joan Ritch

Steven Coutts, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio), Robert Henderson, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)


Frank Strang, Saxa Vord Resort,   Josie McMillan, Clerk

01/09/14       Apologies:

Pat Burns, John Peterson, Andy Spence, Gary Cleaver, North Isles Councillor (ex-officio)

02/09/14       Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 19th August 2014 were approved. 

03/09/14       Matters Arising from last minutes

09/05/9.7  Baltasound Pier

Gordon asked Robert and Steven about the walkway at Ulsta in Yell as it has been suggested a similar design would be suitable for Baltasound.  Robert explained that it had been put in by the Council when the alterations were made to the harbour for ferry berthing.

10/09/13.1  Roads

Brian Wood, SIC Roads, answered the queries from the last meeting.  He explained that the brig at the Westing is due to have work undertaken on it this year. The SIC is about to send out a small tender for the works, as they do not have the resources to undertake the works.  This work will hopefully begin in the near future once the Council has gone through a tendering process.  Mr Wood said that the road at Haroldswick still needs a short section of the wall rebuilt and a few areas repaired so that the water can run through the gaps. He explained that because of the resources they have available and the back log of work, it will be number of weeks before they can complete this work.  Mr Wood explained that there has been some damage to the foundations of the Uyeasound brig; when the burn bed was scoured out under the brig and the upstream armour was dislodged.  An initial assessment has been undertaken and after further investigation the required repairs will be undertaken. No weight restrictions or closure are required for the bridge.  Mr Wood also said that the tractor flail cutter is working its way throughout Shetland at present undertaking an extended safety cut and should be in the North Isles in the very near future.

10/08/14.1  Clerks meeting 06-09-14

The Clerk attended this meeting.  One of the items discussed was the extra paperwork which had been generated with the Community Development Funding.  All were grateful that it was still available but thought it should go back to the way Community Councils were funded in the past.

10/08/14.2  ASCC Meeting 04-10-14

Gordon will attend this meeting which will be held at the Shetland Museum.

04/09/14       Unst Partnership (UP) Update

Gordon explained that the 1st skips, provided with project funding from the Community Development Fund, had been well used.  The next skips are coming this Thursday and will be sited at the Northside.  There will be a pick-up service for people who are unable to get to the skip within the time it is in Unst.  Donations for using the service will be gratefully received.  UP directors have been on an away day to Northmaven to see what their development company is doing.  UP has applied for funding from Coastal Communities for a Tourism Officer.  The broadband project is still being worked on.

05/09/14       Education Review Update

Gordon explained that the consultation has started on Whalsay and Mid Yell School’s Secondary Departments.  The consultation document is online.  There is a public meeting in Yell on Thursday 2nd October.  Members of Unst Action Group will be going to the meeting.  Gordon explained that there are now several teachers working between Unst and Yell, so making savings for both of the schools.  As teachers leave the jobs are advertised as reduced hours, and usually involve travelling between schools.  These savings have not been taken into account.  The figures used are historic.  There was a discussion about this being a better option than moving pupils although valuable members of the community are leaving.  Frank Strang said that he has spoken to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to see if he can get funding to undertake a consultation on what the effects of closing the secondary department will have on the community.  Gordon said that there is usually a socio-economic study carried out on the effects on jobs and the community.  Steven said that what happens in Mid Yell and Whalsay will be a good indication of what is being proposed.  Council is looking at full closure of their secondary department or going to Secondary 1 to 3. 

06/09/14       SIC Ferries

Laurence asked Robert and Steven if they knew what was in the fares structure report which is going to the Council on the 6th October.  Robert said that he didn’t know what was in the report, but it would be on the internet the week before it goes to the council.  There was a discussion about how ferries fares on Bluemull Sound had significantly reduced the amount of people travelling between the North Isles.  It has had a negative effect on the number of people working between the North Isles.  Frank Strang said that the number of Yell and Fetlar residents coming in to eat at Saxa Vord had gone down significantly.  Shops, businesses and community events are also noticing lower numbers of other north isles visitors.  There was also a discussion about how the lack of ferry capacity had affected the Unst Show, UnstFest and the Yoal Rowing Regatta.  Robert and Steven were asked if they knew if the Bigga would be back by November or would it first be back in 2015 as is rumoured locally.  Robert said that he didn’t know for sure.  There is a problem at Belmont with a lot of the streetlights not working.  This is dangerous as ferry crews can’t see folk waiting to board the ferry.  There is also no working light in the waiting room.  The Clerk is to write to the Ferries Department about his.

Laurence asked Frank Strang if he would like to speak to the meeting. 

Frank Strang, Saxa Vord Resort

Airstrip - Frank Strang said that things are going well at the moment.  They have spent £40,000 on consultants looking at the airport.  He said that the Council has been very proactive with their assistance.  He explained that it will take a lot of money to bring the airport up to standard.  With all the new regulations, shorter flying times and changes in helicopter regulations and the opening up of the Rosebank field west of Shetland, Mr Strang is still very optimistic that something will happen at the airstrip.  He also said that he is investigating the option of putting up a civilian radar at Saxavord, to replace the MOD installation.  This service could be sold to civilian/RAF traffic.  Having the radar on Saxavord would also make the airstrip a more attractive and viable facility for helicopters.  He believes that the airstrip in Unst is an asset.  Mr Strang has spoken to the general manager at Scatsta but he wasn’t interested in working with Unst. 

Motor Sports Club – Mr Strang has also been talking to the Motor Sports Club about the possibility of arranging another Unst Thrash Day at the airstrip.  Members explained to Mr Strang about what had happened in the past and that the reason the Community Council weren’t keen for the club to use the airstrip was the potential damage that could be done to the lights and the surface of the airstrip.  In the past there had been several incidents and negative feedback from the community.  Mr Strang was keen for the event to go ahead, and felt it would benefit the community.  It would be on an event by event basis working closely with the Police and the local community.  He was made very aware of the negative feeling of the meeting.

Shetland Reel Gin – Mr Strang explained that the launch of the gin had been a great success.  They are still using the small still but hope to have the big still shortly.  The Shetland Reel Gin was unveiled to the sounds of a jingle written and performed in person by American country singer-songwriter Jim Salestrom.  Mr Strang is organising a Shetland Reel Music Festival for the 13th, 14th and 15th August.  There will be several well-known performers coming from America as well as Shetland musicians.  Members said that the launch of the gin had gone really well, the weekend events had raised a lot of money for a youth group and charity.  The bairns had enjoyed the workshops with Jim Salestrom.  Mr Strang was advised to advertise this in the Shetland Visitor. 

Saxa Vord Resort – Frank Strang said that the tourist season had been good even though they had Petrofac workers staying.  He said that tourists from outwith Shetland had tended to stay longer.  He said that they are keen to push Shetland and Sava Vord as a destination resort.  The oil boom will come to an end so tourism businesses are very important.

London financiers – Mr Strang said that he is in talks with London financiers who are keen to set up a Shetland fund which businesses could access. 

Laurence asked Robert and Steven if there was anything they would like to pass back from the Council.  Robert said that there is a meeting about fixed links on the 30th September 2014.  Steven said that the Anderson High School has been granted planning permission as long as it meets the 26 conditions.  The money for roundabouts and roads will come out of the budget.  There was a discussion about whether the main contractor would be using local labour.  Robert said that the Council had no say over this. 

Laurence thanked Robert and Steven for attending the meeting.  They left at 8.30pm to catch the ferry.

10/08/14.6  Ambulance Provision in Unst

There was a meeting with Peter Smith, Paramedic Team Leader, Scottish Ambulance Service and Malcolm MacLeod, Area Service Manager (islands) to discuss the termination of the present ambulance contract. Discussions are ongoing about making an ambulance bay in the fire station, with the garage being contracted to maintain the ambulance.  Gordon said that Scottish Ambulance Service is very slow at organising training courses for volunteers.   

07/09/14       Application for Donation

07/09/14.1  Unst Partnership

It was agreed to give a donation of £125 towards the extra costs incurred in hiring the skips.

07/09/14.2  Unst Senior Netball Team

It was agreed to give a donation of £100 towards the costs of buying new strips for the senior netball team.

07/09/14.3  Spirit Dancer Shetland Youth Exchange to Canada in July 2015.

It was agreed to give a donation of £125 towards the cost of the youth exchange trip to Canada.

07/09/14.4  Unst Youth Club Italy Trip

It was agreed to give a donation of £125 towards the cost of the youth club trip to Italy next year.

08/09/14       Community Council Finances

The budget figures for the year were discussed.  Last year’s accounts have been submitted to Michael Duncan. 

09/09/14       A.O.C.B.

09/09/14.1  SNH – Consultation on lease of Keen of Hamar Nature Reserve to the RSPB

Members believe that it would be of benefit for the Keen of Hamar Reserve to be managed by RSPB.  There was a general feeling that it was good it would be looked after.

09/09/14.2  Community Council Elections – nominations to be in by 7th October 2014

Several new people have shown an interest in standing for the Community Council.  Forms must be in Lerwick by the 7th October.

09/09/14.3  Halligarth Report

There is a meeting about Halligarth with the National Trust for Scotland on Thursday 25th September at 8pm in Unit 1, Hagdale.

09/09/14.4  Loch at Coutts Mill and burn to Wester Loch

Concerns were raised about the amount of water in the peerie loch at Coutts Mills.  The valves on the dam are open at the moment, after a Uyeasound resident contacted Cookeaqua a fortnight ago with concerns about the quantity of water in the loch.  The valves will be closed again while the brood fish are kept at Coutts mill.  The burn from there to the Wester loch needs to be cleared as this was reduced in size when the brig was put in.  The Coutts Mill brig can no longer take any heavy flows of water.  The Clerk is to contact the roads department and ask for them to meet with councillors from Uyeasound to look at the burn and ways to reduce flooding.

09/09/14.5  Scottish Water

There are still major problems with leaking water pipes in Uyeasound.  There is a burst pipe at the back of Batavia, which was supposed to have been fixed earlier this year.  This affects the whole of the east side of Uyeasound, with poor water pressure.  The Clerk will write again to Scottish Water.

The next meeting will be held on Monday 3rd November 2014 at 7.00pm in the Baltasound School

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