View Full Version : Groat review for February 18

18-Feb-11, 19:44
John O’ Groat Journal review: February 18, 2011

As the dreaded cuts begin to bite, it’s North Highland College that is in the firing line and takes the lead story on this week’s front page. Gordon Calder reports that the college could be threatened by cuts of 1.2m which must be made by June. Fiona Macintosh, the newly-appointed local convener of the EIS-FELA union, is worried about the impact the “crippling” cuts will have on courses, jobs, the prospects for young people in the area and even the college itself. She says: “A saving of this magnitude could put the future of the college at risk.”

Another burning issue in the county, is the threat to primary schools and the current review that is being carried out. Wick Councillor, Bill Fernie, who chairs the education, culture and sport committee, has urged parents to get involved in the review. He said that a range of options are being considered but stressed that parents and head teachers may come up with other suggestions. Mr Fernie stressed: “Nothing has been decided. We are approaching this review with a very open mind and are hoping the public will get involved. The door is open for comments.”

The front page features a photo of a smiling Scottish Water worker, Sandy Bremner, winner of the authority’s Vision Award. Sandy who is based at the Thurso East treatment works, beat off competition from over 3500 other staff. He received his award at a presentation ceremony in Edinburgh. His team leader, Ewen Skinner, said that Sandy was always willing to help out others and his sites were always clean, safe and tidy. “He has the best interests of Scottish Water customers at heart and is always looking for ways to do things efficiently. His commitment is outstanding and we’re all very proud of him.”

Inside, the paper tells of another person whose considerable commitment is recognised. Watten woman Jean Macdonald received the Caithness Citizen of the Year, at a ceremony in Ackergill Tower, on Wednesday. Guests heard of her considerable contribution to her community, in various fields that benefitted both young and not so young, over the years.

A few miles further along the road from Jean lives another woman who is to be the first recipient in the county of the Elizabeth Cross, awarded in memory of her teenage son, who was shot dead while on active duty in Northern Ireland, nearly 40 years ago. Helen Nicholls, 85, has been invited to attend a special ceremony in the village’s Ross Institute on April 7, when she will be presented with the medal along with a miniature version, and a memorial signed by Her Majesty, the Queen. The Elizabeth Crosss, the first to be named after a monarch since the creation of the George Cross in 1940, is a new award introduced to provide national recognition for the families of armed forces personnel who died on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism. Guardsman Paul Nicholls, of the Scots Guards, was killed on November 27, 1971, when he was just 18 years old. He had been manning a road block along with members of his regiment, in the Falls Road area of Belfast, when he was shot from behind by an IRA sniper.

Castletown has been given a boost with the announcement that a major housuing development is planned on the outskirts of the village. It was described as “great news” by Doug Fraser, chairman of the local community council. The development is being undertaken by Scotia Homes and could result in a total of 34 homes being built at Castlehill. Mr Fraser said that the project would give a boost to the building trade and the Caithness economy and could act as a catalyst for other schemes in the village.

The paper reports that householders in Caithness who don’t sort out their recycling, could be fined. Highland Council has backed a Scottish Government consultation, potentially giving it the power to issue fixed-penalty notices to householders for failing to help reduce the amount of waste the country produces. The scheme which is already in place in England, could be a positive step forward for the county, but is also going to be a challenge according to local councillor Robert Coghill, who said that the extra space needed for a stricter recycling regime, could pose problems for certain people.

And finally, Caithness schoolchildren and local council staff are among those not being given the day off for the royal wedding in April due to the cost involved. The decision was taken by Highland Council’s resources committee, which took the view that, given the financial plight facing the authority, it was not appropriate to sanction an additional holiday for staff to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday April 29.
Hard times, indeed!