View Full Version : Fit's in 'e' Groat 'is week?

13-Jan-12, 10:38
John O’ Groat Journal review: January 13, 2012

SCOTTISH Government ministers have been asked to scrutinise plans to amalgamate two primary schools in Wick – sparking fears the scheme could be delayed. Parents’ concern about the decision making process behind the planned closure of Hillhead which is to amalgamate with North Primary, has prompted this latest development. Members of the public had until January to make representations to ministers about the plans, which could see all four primaries in the town closed, to make way for two new facilities. However, the process has now entered a period of limbo after Hillhead parent council presented its concerns to Holyrood.

ALSO on the front page of this week’s edition...some good news, with a report that the threat to hundreds of classroom assistant jobs in primary schools across the Highlands has been lifted. Highland Council leader, Dr Michael Foxley, has confirmed no jobs will be cut when a working group, set up to review pupils’ needs in the region, published its recommendations next month. It comes almost a year after the authority sparked a public outcry when it announced the controversial £1.5 million cost-cutting measure to scrap 344, mostly part-time classroom assistant jobs, the equivalent of 158 full-time posts. Parents removed their children from class in protest and the ruling independent/LibDem and Labour administration later deferred a decision, following heavy criticism of the move.

THE new £1.2 million dental unit at the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso has opened. General dental practitioner, Dr John Barry, has taken on the lease of the new, four-surgery dental clinics and will run it as an NHS-committed practice. At present, there are three dentists in post but it is hoped to have a full complement by the end of next month. The practice which is now open for patients, will have the capacity to register 6000 people once it is fully staffed. NHS Highland dental service development manager Alex Fraser said the lease agreement is one of the first of its kind in Scotland.

Inside the paper...A Caithness man has won approval for a solitary wind turbine, despite a local Highland councillor claiming it could impact on the landscape because it would be near a controversial 12-turbine farm. Jonathan Miller sought consent from Highland council to construct the 33.6m high turbine at Hillside Croft, Keiss. Mr Miller’s proposed turbine was recommended for approval but brought before the local authority’s North planning applications committee in Inverness, on Tuesday, in Inverness, because eight objections had been made about its proximity to houses, the potential noise and visual impact.

THE SNP should “stop mucking about with the future of Scotland” and hold a referendum on independence, sooner rather than later, to end uncertainty over the issue. That was said this week by Caithness Sutherland and Easter Ross MP John Thurso but local MSP Rob Gibson hit back and accused political opponents of “scaremongering”. He claimed the other parties are playing politics with the referendum and accused John Thurso of “poo-poohing anything the Scottish Government puts forward”. The local politicians expressed their respect views in interviews with the Groat as it emerged the Scottish Government plans to hold the vote in the autumn of 2014.

A CAITHNESS councillor says his constituents are shivering in the local authority housing because of flawed electric heating which is doing nothing to cut fuel poverty in the region. Landward Caithness members, David Flear, said 12 tenants, mainly single mothers and elderly residents, had contacted him in the last few months, complaining about their electric systems which had left them unable to heat their homes properly and facing higher bills. He has called on the Highland Council to investigate alternative heating systems because of the “desperate” problems in Caithness and other parts of the region.

A THURSO mum says she is alive today because of those who are prepared to give blood. Gemma Coghill of Bishops Drive, needed life-saving emergency surgery just three weeks after giving birth. Now she is urging new donors to come forward. She said: “I gave birth to our first child, a beautiful boy, Sam, on June 25. Three weeks later, on July 25, I was rushed to Caithness General Hospital after a massive haemorrhage at home. I required emergency surgery which last six hours and in total relied on 17 pints of blood and blood-related products to help save my life.”

FUNDING for rural communities will top the agenda next week at two roadshows designed to help people find money for local projects. The free Rural Direct roadshows are being staged in Wick and Thurso, on Monday. A team of expert advisers will be on hand to help people find out more about planning, developing and accessing funding for local schemes. The roadshows will feature presentations on rural development, funding project planning and equalities. Those who attend will also have the chance to arrange follow-up consultations to help them take their plans forward. The event is one of a series of free SCVO-led Rural Direct roadshows taking place across Scotland between now and March.