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Everything posted by petergear

  1. Brief answer: No. With reference to the piece in the paper which mentioned that Golder Landscapes were taking on one "local", starting on monday, the person in question was approached to see whether they would take up the responsible post of gang foreman. As I understand, he greeted the proposal with enthusiasm, until he was offered minimum wage, and no overtime rate. He has declined their kind offer.
  2. The main thing I object to is that the SIC have accepted a programme from the new contractor which is in direct contradiction to the specification laid out clearly in the tender documentation. They were supposed to have their first "round" completed by May 12th (a week ago), with commencement in mid-April. Yet the council officers accepted a schedule showing the North Mainland and Isles contracts only commencing next week, in other words, two weeks after the latest date by which it had to be completed. Also, the litter bins aren't being emptied (so far as I can tell?), nor do they seem to be litter-picking, nor sweeping hard surfaces, nor doing anything in the planted areas (these are all supposed to have ten visits over the summer). The grass is being permitted to grow above the maximum growth-height in many places (due to their not cutting it low enough in the first place, and not getting back to do the second cut quickly enough). The SIC seem to be happy to let them off with all this so far.
  3. The "Local Government in Scotland Act 2003, Best Value Guidance" provided by the Scottish Executive, states (in chapter seven) that a local authority which secures Best Value will be able to demonstrate: "consideration of the social, economic and environmental impacts of activities and decisions both in the shorter and longer term".
  4. Another one is the bloke whose job it is to check that Golder Landscapes' work is being done properly. He's with Infrastructure services, and his email address is: graeme.macdonald@sic.shetland.gov.uk Any of the ones Ghost Rider provided should do it as well.
  5. I have had similar experience, but only when Fat Man (Mr Maclane) wasn't cheffing - it was worse than mediocre, it was REALLY c**p, rotten shellfish and everything. Now if we're going for a rare "special-occasion" treat, we phone ahead to see if FM Maclane is cheffing. If he is, you're in for a rare treat. If not, don't bother.
  6. The contract specifications are complex and vary from area to area, but all of the following requirements apply to all areas: All edges must be strimmed. They're supposed to clean all the clippings off the hard surfaces (pavements, roads, man-hole-covers and the like). They should do a litter-pick every visit and clear the ground of debris. All the planted areas should have a good going-over every two or three weeks. The bins in the playparks should be emptied every visit. The finish of the cut should be neat and even.
  7. They aren't even half way through their first round yet; it was supposed to have been finished on Friday. It's four years, unfortunately, unless something "gives" first.
  8. Agreed Bryan. They are evidently trying to "train-up" some novices, on-the-job, with supervision from only one or two skilled workers. Which beggars the question as to why they delayed by most of a month, before they started the work. They were awarded the contract around the start of April. Although the growth this year was slow to kick-off, there were lots of jobs which they could have been getting on with in the meantime. For example there are numerous planted areas which were to be overhauled which they haven't started on yet, numerous areas of waste ground which were to be wrestled under control, hard surfaces which were needing a scrub, and so forth, all of which they could have done before the start of the main growing season. They delayed by far too long. What they have brought to Shetland is, IMHO, far too little far too late.
  9. "...around 10 local jobs lost..." Hi-aye Peerie Bryan. Just to say that it would be more like a dozen to fourteen local jobs.
  10. In reply to Just Me's comments: Put it this way, between my own firm and Peter Stevenson's outfit, we were doing all the work which "Golder Landscapes" are now undertaking, with SIX "squads". Golders are trying to do the work with only TWO squads. In my own (restrained) opinion, they are not going to be able to "cut it" (pun intended) with regard to fulfilling the black-and-white necessity of the specification, which was laid out in the all-new-revised contract, unless they throw a lot more people at it. And are they cutting corners (ouch, puns again...)? Er..... I have to be careful what I say, but other people have been noticing that their work is below par. Their mowing is fine (it's hard to go far wrong with a mower), but it's the other little time-consuming aspects of the work which they're making "economies" in (strimming, clearing-up grass clippings off the pavements, emptying bins in playparks, litter-picking etc). Frustrating for myself and the other Shetland contractors to watch, because we all priced to actually fulfil the new contract terms as they were written. In fairness their work has improved, I would say, even over the past few days, but they still have half of Shetland to get through on their first "round", and they would need to be starting their second round by now. I have no idea why they put in such a low bid (their price was REALLY low), but my best guess is that it was either something along the lines of Ghost Rider's suggestion, or they simply made a horrific error of judgement. Incidentally, they are supposed to have everything on the first round cut by the 12th May at the latest (earlier today in other words), so if you're aware of any housing schemes, urban verge areas, open spaces or playparks which haven't had a going-over yet, feel free to let the council know about it.
  11. In reply to Ghost Rider's comments, I would say that this is an excellent insight into some of the economics of the issue.
  12. Just to say, I put a letter in to the paper, but unfortunately there was no letters page this week. Anyway, here's a copy of what I sent in: "A couple of people, mistakenly believing that it was still the responsibility of my own firm, have recently complained to me about the standard of some of the grass cutting work around SIC property. I wish to preserve my firm's reputation for delivering quality, so I am writing to let everyone know that most of the SIC contracts were awarded some weeks ago to a firm based in Ayrshire. The areas which the new firm are responsible for are the playparks, sheltered housing schemes, urban verge areas, open spaces, planted areas, and offices. If anyone has any comments regards the standard of anyone's work, please contact the SIC directly; the main switchboard number is 693535."
  13. The local sherrif employed quite a creative touch to his "doing justice" this week. I have cut-and-pasted this article from the Shetland News website: A SHERIFF has told a young musician from Shetland that he must think up ways of steering young people off drugs, after he admitted giving a teenage friend a cannabis reefer at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday (Wednesday). Lyall Balfour Campbell, aged 24, of Stakkafletts, Fetlar, was arrested in Law Lane, Lerwick, last February after police were tipped off that a group of youngsters were preparing a reefer. Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the finger was pointed at Campbell as being the source of the drugs, but the amount of cannabis in the reefer was "ridiculously small". Sheriff Graeme Napier deferred sentence on Campbell, telling him to return to court in six months with some ideas on preventing drug abuse in young people. Sheriff Napier said: "I would like some suggestions as to how the implications of being involved in the misuse of drugs can properly be communicated to young people in Shetland." He suggested Campbell liaise with local youth groups, drug agencies and the council's social work department to help him with his task.
  14. Found this on the Shetland News website earlier. Hooray! : "Manson: SIC should relocate jobs COUNCIL officials in Shetland have been asked to identify a number of smaller sections of the authority which could be relocated outside Lerwick. Shetland Islands Council is striving to "promote efficiency" by developing a single council headquarters campus, while at the same time seeking to decentralise some employment away from the islands' capital. The local authority is also exploring ways of promoting more flexible hours to suit those with child care responsibilities, and is even looking into working from home. Councillor Bill Manson said he was keen to explore further the idea of small units within the SIC working outside Lerwick. The council already provides a significant number of jobs outside Lerwick such as teachers, ferry staff and the ports and harbours department, which is based at Sella Ness, near the Sullom Voe Terminal."
  15. Excellent ideas guys n gals. I did hear of the horrendous difficulties SNH have had with that move, and the general outcry that resulted over it. You might have noticed, as well, the piece in the paper this last week, about the Policewoman who wanted to stay in Lerwick for the sake of her kids, but the Constabulary wanted to move her to Brae. I do, of course, agree that no-one's ever going to welcome a forced move. Sorry to witter on about it, but if I could add though, in my defence, that I didn't propose a wholesale forced move. What I suggested (or at least had in mind - maybe I didn't explain very clearly) was a number of voluntary moves made by individuals from different departments. It would require some (but not a great deal) of re-training of staff and a little personnel-shuffling. You would be aiming to move a dull and straghtforward admin operation like, for example (and I'm undoubtedly at risk of offending someone here...), the Payroll department. One dull admin job is much like another? Well, maybe not.... I'm sure there's something there though. The Westen Isles model sounds absolutely excellent. I'm sure there are many individuals who could just as readily do their job from Unst as they could from Lerwick if they were given the chance. Not sure. Who would be best to approach? If you know any councillors or council managers, you could maybe mention it to them.
  16. The SIC should, instead of trying to find more and more offices in central Lerwick (which reduces the potential space for housing), move some of its administrative facilities to Unst. I appreciate that there are reasons why many of the SIC personnel have to remain "central". However with the availability of broadband, there is no reason why much of the work currently done in Lerwick could not be done in Unst, where there are lots of "free" ready-made offices and houses. This would certainly take a bit of personnel-shuffling, but even if only twenty people were re-located this would be helpful - the cost of re-training, if need be, could easily be offset by the massive savings offered by free-ing up valuable space in "da toon". In a time where the SIC is trying to make savings, perhaps it should consider saving the money it intends to spend on Lerwick housing (£13 million) by instead using its offices in Lerwick for housing. Unst has plenty buildings and is URGENTLY in need of an influx of paid workers to rescue its local economy. Perhaps handsome re-location incentive payments could be made to staff, offset by the cash made available by "releasing" the Lerwick property for housing? £13 million could go a long way in this respect. Now, the SIC were going to spend £130,000 per "unit", for 100 "units", on the current proposed development for new-build housing. Say, (picking figures out of thin air), forty SIC staff were moved to Unst (NOT against their free will I might add - I know a number of Unst people working in Lerwick who would happily move back north if there was work), freeing up one SIC office block, which could be converted into flats. The cost of converting the building into flats would be, say, £150,000, and the cost of purchasing and converting the buildings in Unst would be, say, another £150,000. A complete guess here but say you get TEN(?) new flats out of that, which would perhaps be equivalent to, say, a very conservative FOUR(?) of the SIC's proposed new-build "units". You've just saved over £200,000, which could be used as "relocation" incentive money. I have tried not to make my figures too optmistic and to be honest, they are all plucked from thin air, but I believe that the SIC should be striving to de-centralise to relieve pressure on Lerwick and bring a little of the money, and the graduates and young families back into rural areas, and that this could be a golden opportunity.
  17. A link to an article on the Shetland News website, which "reveals that the impact of intermittent supplies from wind power have been blown out of proportion": http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/pages/news%20stories/04_2006/wind_power_no_problem_for_grid.htm
  18. An article on the Shetland News website (link below). Lerwick Port Authority have sponsored the renewable-hydrogen driven car in an international eco-marathon. Good on them. http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/pages/news%20stories/03_2006/harbour_backs_hydro_car_record_attempt.htm Bryan, I've never heard of an online petition before but it sounds like a good idea. You could email all your friends to get them to sign it, and they could email their friends, and so forth.... it could end up really big. You could also include links in the email to relevant articles, and so on, and try to encourage people to do everything they could (eg email their MP - a pre-written letter could be included) to get Blair to realise the benefits of renewables?
  19. I don't know how much involvement Stevie has had with them, he set up in business a few years ago, and seems to be doing very well.
  20. Incidentally, a bit of cross-thread interest here: http://www.shetlink.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=421
  21. Lower the voting age? Yup JAS, you're very right about the poll in question. I'm not sure if even the £7M figure is accurate (remember it originally started at over £9M?), because the Scottish Arts Council are fronting 2.2 M, leaving only... £4.8M of SIC money - about half the original figure. Can someone please correct me if I am wrong. Anyway I digress: yes, especially with the length and popularity of that particular debate, and the fact that the question was flawed from the outset, you should get everyone to vote again. It'll be interesting to see the outcome. Incidentally, it is of course possible for utterly unscrupulous people to vote "twice" under different user ID's. I understand that there were a number of multiple-identity comments being placed on that particular thread for a while....
  22. That was a good peerie fun, Colin! I noticed they actually managed to get a fancy posed photo in the paper this week, of the named offender who copped the first fixed penalty...! You'd have thought he'd surely want to keep his face out of the Times for something like that!? Believe it or not he had posed for the picture willingly, because he was trying to protest at the injustice (!) of the fact that he was being punished for his crime. Incredible
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