John O' Groat Journal review July 29, 2011

THE inconvenience cause by closed Whitechapel toilets, on Saturday night crowning and procession gala events, commands the lead story on page one. The facilities are no longer the responsibility of Highland Council but Vacman Cleaning Ltd. It appears that the crux of the problem was a question of communication. According to Caithness ward manager, David Sutherland, the gala committee was advised to contact the firm but this did not happen. He said: “The public toilets are available to be opened upon request but the contractors can’t do anything if nobody asks them to.” However, hotels and pub owners in the town centre rallied round and made their facilities available.

ALSO on page one...Caithness can overcome the economic difficulties caused by the rundown of Dounreay but the area needs “a greater commitment from the Scottish and UK governments”. That was the message delivered this week, by two national union leaders following a two-day visit to the Far North. Kevin Coyne, the Unite national officer and Keith Hazlewood, the GMB national secretary, spoke to the paper at the end of their first trip to the far north. During their time in the county, they toured the Dounreay site, met union representatives and management, and helda meeting with officials at Scrabster harbour where a 20 million redevelopment of the port is under way.

INSIDEin the Far North are benefitting more from commercial opportunities than tourism this summer. That’s according to North Highland Tourism marketing manageress, Jill McNicol, who believes the staycation trend is starting wear off. Her views come, despite Wick Airport’s announcement, last week, that it has experienced a 13 per cent passenger increase. Mrs McNicol described it as great news that airports across the Highlands were starting to see an increase in customers. But she said the tourism industry in Caithness is not necessarily benefiting from it.

A DISABLED woman from Lybster is appalled at the treatment she received from bus gianTS Stagecoach. Alison Kirk has slammed the firm, claiming it has shown a lack of respect to people who are disabled. The 59-year-old suffers from a condition known as myalgic encephalomyelitis which causes pain in muscles and joints as well as severe exhaustion. When she arrived at the Inverness bus terminal, she received incorrect information from the bus company about the next leg of her journey and was “disregarded” when she went to complain. A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said that the initial information given to the passenger was correct and added that they were currently investigating the claim that the passenger was later given incorrect information. She added that the situation was resolved when the company was able to provide alternative transport, ensuring the lady reached her destination.

A GROUP of English holidaymakers feared for their lives after becoming trapped in a sea cave during s sightseeing tour from John O’ Groats this week. However, all 10 escaped unscathed following their 90-minute ordeal on the uninhabited Pentland Firth island of Stroma. Along with the two crew of the rigid-hulled inflatable tour boat, they clambered out onto the top of the cave from where they were rescued by lifeboat.

Wick Academy manager, David Kirkwood said that changes would be required, after the team were knocked out of the North of Scotland Cup, by a 2-1 scoreline. It was an all too familiar story, the Scorries going ahead, only to lose their lead. Mr Kirkwood maintained that the players defeated themselves by lacking composure when in possession, but reckoned that the defeat might be the wake-up call they required, in advance of their opening Highland League game against Clach, at Harmsworth Park tomorrow.