View Full Version : Fit's in 'e Coorier 'e day

01-Jun-11, 10:38
Courier review: June 1, 2011
A WICK community councillor has branded the closure of the town’s passport interview office as “ridiculous”. First-time applicants could now face a round trip of 200 miles for a 30-minute interview, reveals the paper on its front page. Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council chairwoman, Coreen Campbell, said the Home Office decision to close the office in September, would cause unnecessary travel woes and add to the expense of getting a passport. A Home Office spokesperson confirmed that the office, which employs three staff, will close, although it is not yet known if jobs will be lost. The spokesperson added that the closure was part of a UK-wide cutback. However, conscious of the Far North’s geographic position, it is intended that a mobile service will be introduced.

Also on page one, is an appeal to businesses dependent on Dounreay, to act now, to ensure they have a prosperous future in the area, as the rundown of the plant gathers pace. A steady trickle of engineers and project managers have been leaving the site, to take up well-paid jobs in the oil industry usually in Aberdeen. The latest bid to stem the flow, has come from a 2.3 million skills development programme launched in Wick, yesterday. Spearheaded by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, it aims to help people transfer to jobs in the new industries, forecast to take off in the area. Opportunities in marine and offshore wind energy are being eyed along with a growth in business support services. The development agencies behind the push have a target of creating 2000 jobs by 2020.

INSIDE, a man, who gives up half his year to help African orphans, is appealing for ideas to raise money for them. Ian Orebell (62) from Lybster will be heading to Bamburi, in Kenya, for six months, to work with the Tumaini Home of Hope. The UK-based charity raises and manages funds for Tumaini Children’s Home and other projects, to help children who suffer from HIV and AIDS. Ian joined the charity in 2003 during a trip to Kenya when he said he was moved by what the organisation did for the youngsters.

BUS services to Inverness from the Far North are likely to be disrupted during essential maintenance work. It was announced this week that structural work needs to be carried out on the Kessock Bridge, on the A9. The work involves major repairs to the north expansion joint on both carriageways of the bridge. Remedial work to the bridge deck surfacing is also required to be carried out. Work will begin in Sunday, June 19, and last around 18 days.

A FALL in infection rates across the North, has been welcomed by the local health partnership. The number of on-site reported infections at Caithness General Hospital, has followed the wider Highland trend and decrease for another year. North Highland Community Health Partnership general manager, Sheena Macleod, said she was pleased by the latest figures. She said: “ Infection control is a priority for Caithness General Hospital and I am pleased that the latest report shows infection rates are falling across the board. We have a good track record here, on the control of infection and all staff work incredibly hard to ensure it remains a high priority. However, we must not be complacent and will continue to raise awareness among all staff, patients and visitors on the need to follow infection control rules.”

BUILDING contractors in Caithness have expressed fears that new water supply rules will have a damaging impact on the industry locally...and even lead to job losses. The Scottish Government introduced new legislation last October, stating that every new house required an adequate water supply for firefighting purposes. Previously, domestic buildings were exempt from complying with this standard. Contractors say that the latest legislation adds major construction costs at a time when the industry is facing severe difficulties. Highland Council’s planning environment and development committee is now calling for the Scottish Government to urgently review the recent changes.

Top executives are to promote the Far North as a place to do business. Highlands and Islands Enterprise has launched the ambassador inititative and a number of bosses working across the UK, who already have business or personal connections with the area, have pledged their support as ambassadors to encourage new inward investment opportunites. Senior figure in multinationals like BP and AMEC, are amongst those playing a part in promoting the area. Andrew McCree, of energy and environmental company AEA Group said: “This is an innovative approach. Caithness and north Sutherland have a number of strong business connections and it is important that these are fully utilised to the benefit of the local economy.”

Fed-up residents in Dunbeath have signed a petition, claiming an excessive number of buses are driving through the village. Twenty-five people signed the document which was sent to Stagecoach offices, complaining about the X99 service introduced last month. It is a direct link between Thurso and Inverness on the A9 and has cut the previous travelling time by 20 minutes. Passengers from Wick now have to disembark at Dunbeath, before being picked up by another bus to take them north along the A99. The new service is not proving popular with local people who are tired of their village being used as a bus station. The petition is led by Joyce Milne, of Achorn Road, Dunbeath. She claimed that as many as three buses stop near to the village war memorial, to transfer passenger and the activity is “ruining” the village. Residents, she declares, want action. A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said that an interchange was necessary to facilitate the X99 route splits which provide additional travel options for passengers and added that the company is committed to a service which makes the area accessible to them.