Caithness Courier review: November 4, 2011

possible loss of over 200 jobs at the Vulcan nuclear submarine base in Caithness would be a “massive blow” for the Far North. That was said yesterday by Bob Earnshaw who chairs the Thurso Community Council and Dounreay Stakeholder Group. He spoke out, after junior defence minister, Peter Luff, confirmed the Ministry of Defence does not see a future for the Vulcan test facility after 2015. The decision could mean over 200 jobs going, at the site when its current £360 million contract expires. Mr Earnshaw said: “This announcement could be a double whammy for Caithness, which is already losing jobs because of the decommissioning of Dounreay. On the face of it, this does not look good.”

on the front page..Far North MSP Rob Gibson has been involved in a war of words with a former parliamentary candidate, this week-140 characters at a time. The row between the SNP member and former Labour candidate, John Mackay, emerged on micro-blogging site, on Wednesday. The squabble was sparked when Mr Mackay retweeted news of the possible loss of jobs at the Vulcan submarine nuclear reactor test site and prefaced it by calling the MSP and insulting name. Mr Gibson responded with his own tweet, calling that, “a pretty immature response”.

INSIDE... it’s reported that fresh blood is needed to help revive one of the longest-running organisations in Wick. Volunteers are being sought to help re-establish the Wick Boys Brigade which was first formed 124 years ago. The branch went into abeyance in 2009 when the group struggled to attract adult volunteers to act as BB officers. For the past two years, it has struggled to re-form, despite having a high number of children in the organisation before it ceased to operate. Now, a public meeting has been organised by former officers to bring it back. It will take place on Wednesday November 16, at 7.30pm in the Boys Brigade Hall, Wick.
PORT operators at Scrabster are denying a claim they are giving short shrift to small vessels which use the harbour. George Walker said his, and other boats have been damaged as a result of not being able to obtain a safe berth in the inner harbour. Unhappy his grievances have gone unheeded, he raised them at last Thursday afternoon’s annual general meeting of Scrabster Harbour Trust. Mr Walker co-owns the Sea Jay V with his 30-year-old son, Gordon, who operates it. He said the problems began in August following the start of the £20 million scheme to redevelop the inner harbour. Speaking at the trust meeting, chairman William Calder said he would follow up Mr Walker’s complaint but added that it was the first he had heard of such concerns.

number of people in Caithness over the age of 75 will double from 2000 to 4000 in just over 20 years. That was the prediction Sheena Macleod, the general manager of the North Highland Community Health Partnership gave members of Castletown and district community Council last Thursday. She said the demographic changes will mean 15 per cent of the local population will be over 75 by 2033. She said that the rise in the number of the elderly people was one of the factors driving the changes involved in the controversial west of Caithness health redesign plans which could see the closing of inpatient beds at the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso and a reduction in the opening hours at the minor injuries unit.

village community project is within touching distance of providing a brighter, fun-filled future for children in the area. Thrumster Park Regeneration fund is “delighted” to be approaching its first fundraising target of £20,000. The milestone will provide a brand-new play park for around 50 youngsters in the village and secure a lasting legacy for future generations. Group chairwoman, Alice Miller, said it should change the lives of children in the village.

Academy manager, Davie Kirkwood faces a tough dilemma this weekend=who should stay and who should go. After a resounding 2-0 victory over Formartine United, last Saturday, the manager is trying to decided whether or not to change the team that broke the club’s four-games losing streak. The question is weighing heavy on Kirkwood’s mind ahead of welcoming Highland League heavyweights, Nairn County to Harmsworth Par, tomorrow.

AND finally...a Wick businessman has used his creative talents to design a new tartan which will help raise money for charity. Martin Gill who was a member of Wick lifeboat for 12 years, has based a unique material on the colours of the RNLI which responds to thousands of distress calls every year. Mr Gill,a member of the lifeboats fundraising committee will use the new tartan for made-to-order kilts which it is hoped will swell the charity’s coffers.