Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let's get back up to speed

You know how it is, post County Show the nights draw in and everything becomes more of a slog (except when I was kid in Kirkwall in the 70s and the dark meant playing hide and seek in the schemes and lighting bonfires i.e. great fun), so creative writing has hit the back burner.

There have been a number of hot topics hitting the news since August, such as the Stromness Lorry Park furore, and the recent Sheltered Housing Warden controversy, and they are worth a post on their own, and I'll get onto this later- it'll be called 'Communication...'

Here I'd just like to update on things happening in the ward.

First thing to note is that the Black Building has gone, more quickly and finally than any of us expected. I was torn over the decision to demolish, as it was clearly A Unique Thing, but equally clearly had been destroyed internally (as can be seen in the Orkneycommunities Image Library pics of it). Magnus Tullock is compiling an archive related to it, and I hope that Orkneycommunities.co.uk can help out, and bring the information to a wider audience as well. I believe that the cost of demolition was significantly lower than early estimates, but I am waiting to get this clarified.

The Schools Investment Programme (now known as Orkney Hostels and Classrooms- no, I just made that up) is well under way, with construction hoped to start in one year, with the new KGS expected to take 2 years to build. The hostel, new pool, and Stromness Primary will take less time, maybe 18 months. Assurances have been given that the new pool construction/old pool demolition will be phased so that Kirkwall will not be left without a pool for any significant period of time. Much more about the SIP here. I am on the advisory working group for this project, and am impressed with the huge amount of work that has been put into it already. There is no question that the Council made the right decision to keep the programme on track, when the debate took place about whether to prevaricate about the Stromness Primary site. As I said at the time, what is the worst that is going to happen to Stromness? Assurances had been given re. a lorry park, there is a commitment to look at developing the harbour for renewables, and the town is getting a brand new school in the site that still seems to be the most popular amongst all the options from the last survey. Meanwhile megabucks are being spent on the Townscape Heritage Initiative, and the town is positioning itself as a centre for creative industries and renewables. Any more mass there and it'll turn into a black hole that will suck all of Orkney into it... Personally I'd sooner see all of this in Kirkwall anyway, and see no reason why the Stromness Lorry Park can't be at Hatston ;-)

Festive lighting- now there is something that splits the Kirkwall councillors. I'm in favour of the festoons, and am delighted that they are back, and coloured. More of them, and with warmer colours for next year please. On a related topic, cathedral lighting is being looked at, with a view to more economical but better (i.e. switched on) illumination of the Red Building. Nice planters for the Kirk Green have also been promised for 2010.

And 2010 is just around the corner. Will I get my posts addressing flooding, Dounreay, the Year of Islands Culture 2011, the H&I Film Commission, the Kirkwall Town Centre Partnership and Communication... in before then? Hope so. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year just in case.