John O’ Groat Journal review: November 18, 2011

DAY service in Wick “demeaned” the memory of the men and woman who died in two world wars and other conflicts. That was claimed this week, by local man George Budge who was “angry and upset” by what was said by Caithness priest father John Allen when he gave the prayer at the Wick war memorial on Sunday. Father Allen yesterday accepted the criticism but said he was just trying to set the remembrance service in a wider context, and look at what is happening in society and why conflicts occurs. Mr Budge, whose late father William served in the Second World War and was taken prisoner in North Africa, maintained the first part of Father Allen’s prayer was “all about religious dogma”. Mr Budge claimed the priest bemoaned the breakdown of marriage, opposed civil partnerships, appeared to scare children by telling them that in their adult life they would regret taking part in Halloween and expressed regret that church were being turned into pubs and being used for other purposes.

pub in Wick could fall foul of an “over-provision of licensed premises” ruling. The former Town and County Club in Back Bridge Street, has been refurbished by Sasa’s Cellar Bar owner, Alexander Harper. However, ahead of his application for an on and off-sales licence going before the Highland Licensing Board on Tuesday, an objection has been lodged by NHS Highland’s director of public health. Dr Margaret Somerville says that Wick already has an over-provision of licensed premises. In her objection to the board, she writes: “Wick is an area where levels of alcohol-related harm are significantly in excess of the Scottish average.” She adds that NHS Highland had concluded that this indicates over-provision in the area and “no further liquor licences should be granted, unless proprietors could indicate that they would not further contribute to levels of alcohol-related health harm.”

in Caithness and other rural areas are being ripped off by companies who charge them huge additional costs for deliveries. That’s the view of the Citizens Advice Bureau, and now Caithness CAB is joining with colleagues across rural Scotland to campaign for fair delivery charges for customers. Local people are being urged to take part in a survey and give examples of unfair delivery charges-and the offending companies will be named and shamed if they don’t change their ways.

heating scheme is set to be relaunched in Wick next year. That emerged this week after Ignis Energy bought equipment which previously belonged to Caithness Heat and Power Ltd. Ignis Energy now hopes to continue to operate the heating scheme and expand it at a later date. The company had been earmarked to take over the CHaP scheme from the Highland Council, earlier this year, but the local authority decided Ignis “failed to achieve the conditions required for concluding an agreement” and decided not to award a contract.

and students at North Highland College, in Thurso, observed the two minutes silence at 11am on Armistice Day. Many assembled at Cafe at Morven, last Friday, to remember those who lost their lives fighting for their country. Hospitality students set up a display table with an example of a week’s rations, during, and after, the Second World War. This was compared with a week’s rations current cadets receive, when they go to camp.

arts figure is calling on public agencies to invest in education to make Wick the hub of a thriving theatre industry. George Gunn claims the three new schools being built in the town can provide the ideal platform for the development of a thriving drama scene. Amidst a withering attack on public-sector support for the arts in the Highlands, he makes his pitch for a new approach to development a home-grown national theatre, in the north Highlands. Thurso-based Mr Gunn, a well-known playwright and poet, maintains the initiative would create major economic spin-offs.

manager, Davie Kirkwood can’t understand why his squad is not playing a rescheduled fixture this weekend. The tabled Highland Football League game against Inverurie Locos, is postponed as they are playing in the third round of the William Hill Scottish Cup, leaving the Scorries a free weekend. With a game in hand and the weather looking clear, Kirkwood can’t get his head around why the league officials wouldn’t sanction another game. He said: “The league won’t do it. We tried to do it with the Fort William game the last time there was a free weekend but were told it would be an unfair advantage. I don’t understand why, because obviously the bad weather is going to kick in sooner or later.”