View Full Version : Fit's in 'e Groat 'e day?

03-Jun-11, 10:07
John O' Groat Journal review: June 3, 2011

PRIMARY schools in Wick are the only ones in Caithness which could be closed or amalgamated by a Highland Council review, says the paper in its front page lead. The possibility emerged when plans to look at the future of local rural schools, were “put on hold” for a year, after Scottish education secretary Mike Russell called for a moratorium. He asked councils in Scotland, not to close any rural schools for a 12-month period, to enable a commission on the delivery of rural education to be established. In a separate development, Highland Council has decided not to proceed with its review of primary school provision, in Thurso, for five to six years, leaving Wick as the only area in the Far North where schools may be closed or amalgamated.

A PHOTO PIECE, also on page one, honours Billy Farquhar for his 38 years service to saving lives. He was awarded the Old Pulteney Maritime Achievement Award during the Prohibition Ball held at the company’s Huddart Street base, in Wick. The award is given, annually, to a local resident who has contributed greatly towards the community and the maritime industry. After leaving the merchant navy, he worked on boats fishing out of Scrabster and joined the Thurso lifeboat crew in 1969. His first shift was “a baptism of fire”, the Longhope disaster which claimed the lives of all eight of the Orkney crew.

LOCAL artists are bristling over the lack of notice given to them, about a new contract being let as part of the makeover of John O’ Groats. Photographers and filmmakers have been given just over a a week to submit tenders by Highlands and islands Enterprise. HIE was forced to apologise in March, after a communications breakdown, left Caithness Arts unaware about the issue of five previous tenders. Jenny Bruce, acting secretary of the arts umbrella organisation, accused HIE of “riding roughshod” over the interests of local artists. She accuses the enterprise company of indulging in crisis management, in the way it has placed contracts for the art works.

MILLIONS of pounds of a government subsidy which part funds the Scrabster ferry to Orkney, is “going up the funnels”, according to a university professor. Napier University Transport Research Initiative professor, Alfred Baird, claimed his research comparing fuel consumption between the NorthLink services to the islands, from Scrabster and Aberdeen, and the Pentland Ferries crossing, from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney, shows the latter is more ecofriendly in terms of the total CO2 emitted. In his two reports-the second of which has been compiled with Roy Pederson of Pedersen Consulting- the professor argues it is greener for freight coming from the central belt to take the Gills Bay ferry, despite the Government part funding the NorthLink alternatives. The professor observes, this is the same Government which put through the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, an act of parliament with the primary aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

THURSO lifeboat was called out for the second time in 10 hours, after a Faroese fishing vessel with 14 people on board suffered engine failure east of Duncansby Head. The 38-meter Vardborg broke down in the jurisdiction of Wick lifeboat but had requested to Aberdeen coastguard it wanted to be towed back to Scrabster. The crew of the Wick lifeboat was paged shortly after 4am, to go to the aid of the stricken vessel, with the Thurso lifeboat later contacted to take over the tow. However, the Vardborg subsequently regained power and continued its voyage to the fishing grounds.

REAY man Mike Flavell has won the right to take over a croft adjoining his family home at the west end of the village. The current tenant of Ivy Cottage, 83-year-old Donald Macleod, had sought to assign the holding to Mr Flavell. The transfer was opposed by estate handyman, William McIvor, who bought the land in 2009. Mr McIvor objected, along with his son Keenan who has expressed an interest in the tenancy. Following a Crofters Commission hearing in the village hall, on March 2, the ruling has gone in favour of the 47-year-old hospital physiotherapist.

KEEN swimmers in Caithness are to miss out on new water quality signage for the county’s coastal spots. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has unveiled electronic signs at 23 locations across the country, which will form a network, displaying the predicted water quality for visitors. The system incorporates risks from all potential pollution sources, relevant at the time bathers are visiting. However, none of the county’s secenic seaside spots will feature the new signs. A SEPA spokeswoman said they hoped the system would be expanded to Caithness in future.

THIS weekend will see the return of a popular football competition in memory of a a talented teenager. The Scott Mackenzie Memorial Tournament will take place at Bignold Park. Wick, on Sunday. It is being staged, again, as a tribute to Wick youngster, Scott Mackenzie, who tragically died in a car crash three years ago, when he was 17.

AND finally...a close save is usually sudden, and stressful, but not in Laird Sutherland’s case. The 69-year-old is looking forward to parting with his distinguished beard as it will hopefully raise a bundle of cash for Cancer Research UK. Laird’s wife, Margaret, battled the disease for four years and thankfully recovered from it. Laird had a more modest beard but decided to grow it longer for the good cause. He will return to being barefaced, when the six-month growth is shaved off at the Camps Bar, next Friday.