View Full Version : John o' Groat Journal: review-February 25, 2011

25-Feb-11, 12:02
Councillor resigns,the design for Wick High and local man's quake ordeal in NZ
THE paper leads this week with the surprise news from one of Highland Council’s Wick members, Katrina MacNab, that she intends to resign. In a letter published in the same day’s issue, she lays the blame for her move, on an apparent “empathy change” in the community. She also cites “negative press coverage” surrounding controversial plans for a new Wick High School and the ongoing school estate review. Mrs MacNab said she was not able to support retention of the local library and swimming pool at the cost of losing better amenities with the high school. She says it is now up to others to “take the reins” to find a way forward, as the North faces the most severe cuts to public services in the last 40 years. Councillor MacNab appeals to the community to pull together and find solutions to “design their vision” for primary school provision in Caithness.

STILL on school provision...the Groat’s other main front page story concerns the design to the new Wick High School with provisional plans being unveiled at a meeting, in the school. The public had been asked to present ideas and the meeting was told that Highland Council has received a battery of community add-ons, for the school replacement. A cinema, running track, 250-seater performance area, dance studio and crèche are featured among the wish-list, outlined. Other ideas include a polytunnel, video-conference room and hydrotherapy pool. The specification for the £34 million complex already includes a library and swimming pool, which are being earmarked to double as community facilities. The latter would sound the death knell for the town’s existing municipal library and pool. Rector Tom McIntyre urged parents, staff, pupils and community groups to help shape the design of the school. He told the audience: “I see this as a marvellous opportunity where we have a real chance of building a world-class educational institution.” After the meeting, a community group was formed to liaise with the school’s project team.

THE main front page photo shows Dr Fiona Kinnear toasting the new season on a spate-swollen Forss River, in traditional fashion...decanting a Quaich of whisky into the swirling waters.

THE story of a Wick man’s ordeal, amid the horror of New Zealand earthquake, appears on page three, and is a follow-up to the Courier's piece, earlier in the week. David Armstrong was at his work, in a whisky store, in the centre of Christchurch, when the quake, which killed 98 people, struck. He said it was “like a bomb” had hit the city. His graphic description continued: “There was absolute mayhem, everywhere. Not a building was left standing...the whole street, was destroyed. There were bricks and dust everywhere. Cars were crushed..people were crying and screaming”.

HIGHLANDS and Islands SNP, MSP, Rob Gibson has put in an early claim for the cash that was to have been spend, needlessly, on Dounreay’s famous dome. He welcomed the NDA’s decision not to finance the re-painting and sprucing up of the dome, as it is due to be demolished, and said that the £1 million save should go towards helping create renewable jobs in Caithness and further, “logical investment” in Scrabster harbour.

PLANS to cut the number of coastguard centres around the Scottish coast have attracted further criticism. The move has been described as “Draconian” by Thurso community councillor Mike Potts He told Thurso Community Council that the existing coastguard set-up should be retained, to help provide adequate cover in the Pentland Firth.

IN another story from the community council, it was claimed that the future of Dunbar Hospital, in Thurso will not be known until after the Scottish parliamentary elections in May. The claim made by Councillor Donnie Mackay. He complained about a lack of communication over the controversial plan to close the 12-bed inpatient ward at Dunbar and reduce hours at the hospital’s minor casualty unit. A proposal being investigated, the possibility of palliative care, currently being provided at Dunbar being taken over by a local private care home, did not impress Community Councillor Ian Wright who said it was “all wrong”.

WICK Academy is looking to bounce back from last week’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Turriff and will have to be “fit, focused and fired up” when they face hi-fliers Keith, at Harmsworth Park tomorrow, says Scorries co-manager, Ian Munro. Giving cheap goals away will be outlawed, he adds.
Academy seem to be doing well at home, of late. When they are in full flight, playing the sort of fast, flowing football that’s a joy to watch, few in the Highland league can handle them. The home support does make a difference, so I would be looking to them to do the business, tomorrow. Come on you Scorries!