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Unst - what does the future hold?


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In Sussex people started to buy houses in the villages as commuter homes or holiday homes. The locals were forced out as they could no longer afford to buy there. Village shops, post offices and butchers shops closed down as the village was like a ghost town in the daytime with everyone away orking in London, except for a few old folks who had been there for years.

 

I remember visiting someone in hospital once. An elderly woman in the next bed was slating the incomers for the fact that the Sandness shop had closed down. I am not sure whether incomers don't shop or homes in Sandness were bought by people outwith Shetland for holiday homes. I thought about flicking the switch on her life support machine more than once, but then I realised she didn't have one.

 

The reviews in the papers are likely to bring more visitors and there will be those that decide to buy properties as holiday homes, especially on places like Unst where they are at their cheapest. I can't imagine that too many young people will want to move up here. The youngsters here often dont want to stay. An empty house is a house not contributing to the economy.

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New Magnie wrote"Your point about Unst folk only welcoming incomers if they're well heeled retirees, on the other hand, is iredeemably ill informed - not to mention insulting.

 

I must apologise for the way that piece was worded. 'As long as they are retirees and not competing' should have read 'especially if they are retirees and not competing'. There was no mention about being well heeled. Asylum seekers would be equally welcome.

Unst has welcomed many thousands of incomers over the centuries,most especially over the last fifty years and will no doubt continue to do so,if allowed. There must be a tinge of bitterness however in people who see the created jobs going to incomers whilst they have had to leave the island to survive.

 

I see your point - apologies if I misquoted you.

 

When I think about the last tranchee of departees though, I can't see many of them coming back for the jobs that have been created. No disrespect to those who work at them, but a lot of the jobs created of late have not been of the highest skilled variety (PURE excepted). The last bunch of young families to leave were after the airport closure, mostly young, skilled and well paid. They'd have to take a fair pay cut to go home now and for guys kicking 40 with bairns and mortgages its not really an option.

 

Job creation in Unst therefore, tends to draw an incoming population who are perhaps not native to the place - and as often as not face little competition for the jobs on offer. Consequently, I haven't seen much bitterness in the place. The island has now reached a point where depopulation has become a bigger issue than unemployment - that's generally recognised by the indigenous population and its fear of population drain that colours their view more than competition for jobs.

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In Sussex people started to buy houses in the villages as commuter homes or holiday homes. The locals were forced out as they could no longer afford to buy there. Village shops, post offices and butchers shops closed down as the village was like a ghost town in the daytime with everyone away orking in London, except for a few old folks who had been there for years.

 

I remember visiting someone in hospital once. An elderly woman in the next bed was slating the incomers for the fact that the Sandness shop had closed down. I am not sure whether incomers don't shop or homes in Sandness were bought by people outwith Shetland for holiday homes. I thought about flicking the switch on her life support machine more than once, but then I realised she didn't have one.

 

The reviews in the papers are likely to bring more visitors and there will be those that decide to buy properties as holiday homes, especially on places like Unst where they are at their cheapest. I can't imagine that too many young people will want to move up here. The youngsters here often dont want to stay. An empty house is a house not contributing to the economy.

 

Lets face it, we're all guilty of neglecting local shops if we have the chance to stock up at the supermarkets - but empty houses and part time empty houses don't help. we haven't reached the situation of sussex or even the Highlands yet but the day is maybe not that far off.

 

The promotion of tourism as a saviour of rural economies by HIE is a point I've probably laboured to death on the tourism thread but thats the upshot - local young people priced out of the housing market and a low skilled low paid economy.

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Youngsters not wanting to stay is a problem generally. My own view is that social trends and educational factors now have more of an influence over where young folk decide to stay than just employment alone. In a Shetland context that isn't unique to Unst (where there has been a link between big employers moving out and people leaving). If you look at just how much population and the likes of primary school rolls have fallen in places like Fetlar, Yell and Northmavine over the last 25 years or so you will see a similar decline, albeit on a less dramatic scale. Over the same period the Council has invested in local transport infrastructure, services and amenities in those areas and there have been few examples of jobs being lost on a large scale.

 

Thirty or forty years ago the solution to keeping folk in a place was to provide jobs in traditional sectors like fishing, fish processing or knitwear manufacturing - jobs were few and far between (before the oil arrived at least) and folk were happy to stay if they could get a job. Nowadays its much more complex. Young folk have more choices generally - more are encouraged to go on at school and to college or university which inevitably means them graduating in a profession which they can't find work in in most outlying areas. Certainly decentralisation of professional Council jobs could help here - as could grant schemes to encourage employers such as fish farms, energy providers or fish processors to take on graduates in areas like marine biology, marketing, engineering or whatever. But do these people always want to go back when they graduate anyway? And are all of the people who move to Lerwick or further afield when they leave school just doing so to get work? I would say no in both cases - the attraction of towns and cities generally and the social opportunities they offer are what more commonly draw and keep young folk away than just lack of jobs or even the lack of the right type of jobs.

 

Yes the various agencies tasked with economic development need to encourage the creation of employment so that those who want to stay or return can - but not all young folk do even when they are given the choice.

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in full agreement shetlander, just to add my personal viewpoint (& position) though, i would love to have the opportunity to live and work in Unst (or indeed anywhere in the country/isles), as it is where i feel most at home, i love being in cities but i always get bored of it no matter whats on offer, (some people may argue that life in the isles gets a bit boring, but i always manage to make my own entertainment and at least the everyday can never be regarded as souless) an ideal situation for me would be to live in the country but work in town (even if just on occasion) but with my chosen profession (assuming i ever bl00dy graduate & find a job) it is never going to happen until possibly when i reach retirement, that includes shetland in general, i accept it though and don't expect things to change as due to the small population of the islands, there will never be enough work to sustain me, let alone develop my career. hell i can always visit when on holiday, just a pity that by the time i have the money to afford a holiday home the market will be sewn up, hopefully for Unst onywye :wink:

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've come back from a holiday in Sweden - excellent place! - and went along a cold war coastal artillary fortress/ nuclear bunker for a look.

 

Now my line of thought here is with this thread here and the potential of the MOD base in Unst (the bunker part) as a tourist attraction.

 

a) its the most northerly UK bunker

B) it was of huge strategic importance in the cold war

c) it would be a great learning tool for Shetland children

d) etc. etc. etc.

 

Now if all the original equipment were there still? Should it not be purchased from the MOD lock stock and be transformed into a tourist attraction - what with the SIC moving towards tourism as one of the main industries?!?

 

a) increased usage of Yell and Unst ferries

B) increased patronage of local amenities

c) potential job opportunities in tourist industry - tour guides for starters + any knock on tea shop jobs etc.

d) etc. etc. etc.

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Tourism. said it before and I'll go on saying it until even I'm sick of hearing it, is nice as an addendum to a solid employment base, but as a primary industry, is nothing more than a one way road to low paid, low skilled seasonal employment.

 

As for buying anything from the MoD, given that it was built on the public nickel anyway, I don't see why they should get a black ha'penny for a single built asset in the place.

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Tourism. said it before and I'll go on saying it until even I'm sick of hearing it, is nice as an addendum to a solid employment base, but as a primary industry, is nothing more than a one way road to low paid, low skilled seasonal employment.

 

Who are you? You speak my mind!

 

I absolutley agree with you here! Its not to say that this idea should be dropped because though ... plus I want to see the inside of it! :o

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