Last Day For Staff At Wick Branch Of Alliance & Leicester
The staff at the Wick branch of the Alliance & Leicester were today saying farewell to the customers they had served for many years.  with Alliance Leicester closing a number of branches around the country similar scenes are being repeated elsewhere.  The staff in Wick were treating their customers and friends to a different day at the bank.  Tea and coffee and even a glass of wine was on offer with tables laid out with cakes and sandwiches.  Staff were over-whelmed with the responses in cards and gifts showered on them by customers making their last visits to transact business.  All of the staff have obtained other jobs mainly with the other banks in the town who have spotted the chance to get people with years of banking experience.

Reunion Party  - The Past & Present Milk Board Staff - Wick and Thurso Staff
Saturday 19 February 2005 contact Alice Kennedy 01955 603615 or email

End Of The Wick Kirkwall Air Link By Loganair - Would You Like To Comment?
The Wick Kirkwall air link ends on 1 November and the Consultative Committee on Wick Airport would be interested to hear any views on how it affects individuals or businesses.  Contact Carol Smith on 01955 605858  or email to pass on your comments for the next meeting.


NHS Highland has confirmed that there are still tickets available for all six public events they have arranged for next week to discuss the future of Maternity Services in Caithness.  Check the dates of the public meetings and then telephone to get tickets.  NHS highland have confirmed people will be allowed in to the meetings if there is room even without a ticket but ticket will ensure admittance.

Town And County Hospital Staff Out To Raise Funds For Extensive improvements
The staff of the Newton Wing, town & County Hospital are pushing forward with a project to raise funds to enhance the Palliative Care Facility.  they aim to raise enough money to build an extension to the current Palliative Care Rooms that will give patients and their families the ability to be together at what is often a difficult time. in a homely and private environment.  Staff are currently preparing to hold sports auction and the picture shows prizes donated so far.  If anyone would like to donate a prize get in touch with the wardThe sports auction will be held on 26 November at the Francis Street Club at 8.00pm with Willie Mackay acting as auctioneer.

Scottish Surf Championships At Thurso - Lookin Great As The Experts Hit The Waves

The pictures from the latest surf competition show why Thurso is increasing in popularity as a top UK destination for surfing.  And if it dies on that beach there is always another one a few miles away where the beach lies at a different angle.  The winner of the competition was Llewellyn Whittaker who acknowledged the great conditions.  Second was Alan Stokes who also won the Freerange Best Barrel scoring a top 10 points with a great tube ride half way through his quarter final heat earning him an additional £250. Spencer Hargraves was placed in third.  He was the 2002 winner and conditions dropped at a crucial point for him.  Ben Baird was fourth and said the waves were the best he personally had ever seen in the UK.

Full Metal Jacket Almost Complete At North Pier -  Wick
The pile driving is almost completed at north Pier, Wick.  The interlinked piles driven in over the past few weeks now surround the pier in a solid metal jacket.  No doubt the concrete will begin to be poured shortly to make the pier solid for another 100 years. North Pier Index

Omlie Community Association Assisted With Energy Study By Students From Germany
Students from Flensburg University, Germany who undertook the renewable energy study for Ormlie Community Association. The students gave their presentation at a public meeting at the Town Hall, Thurso on Friday 17 September 2004 and OCA hosted a thank-you party for the group after the event. Pulteneytown Distillery kindly donated miniature bottles of Old Pulteney as gifts for the students to take back to their homelands (Nepal, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ghana).

"Anette" Landing Coal At Wick Harbour
Anette is Norwegian registered and was built in 1979.
79.65 metres in length with a beam of 12.80 metres and draft 3.64metres. GRT 1730 NRT 535


CASE Offices Tollemache House, Thurso Part Of Portfolio Being Offered For Sale

A marketing campaign has been launched to sell a number of properties owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).   HIE is currently marketing nine properties across the Network area, with the intention of leasing them back from the new owners.  The move is the first stage of a phased three to four year programme of substantial disposal of properties in the economic and community development agency's portfolio. In the current financial year, HIE expects the property disposal programme to raise around £5million, which the agency will re-invest in a range of strategic development projects across the Highlands and Islands.

John Thurso MP Visited Pulteneytown Today To See "Operation Values" For Himself
John Thurso MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross visited Harrowhill in Pulteneytown, Wick today to see for himself the hig profile part of the campaign to reduce crime and vandalism.  He chatted to housing manager Robert McIntosh, Community Warden David Robertson and Pultneytown People's Project chairman David Dunnet.  The community safety vehicle which is acting as a centre for the police and others during the day is the high profile side of a much wider action by all concerned in the community too improve the lives of local people.  The day time campaign is backed up by night patrols in both uniform and plain clothes.  Apart from offering security advice and offering to mark mobile phones the operation hopes to gather information from the community which will have longer term results.  John Thurso was extremely encouraged by this partnership of the whole community and he is fully supportive.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority today announced plans to begin decommissioning the waste shaft at Dounreay four years earlier than previously planned.  Following a period of public consultation, UKAEA Dounreay has chosen grout as its preferred method of isolating the 65-metre deep facility from the surrounding groundwater.  Subject to regulatory approvals, a 10 metre-wide band of rock around the shaft will be sealed by injecting grout into the fissures to form a deep containment barrier that stops groundwater flowing into the shaft and becoming contaminated with radioactivity.
Ministers Consider Extending the Nuclear Option - BBC

Caithness Courier Will Be Late This Week Due To Technical Problems
The midweek paper in Caithness has not appeared today due to technical problems.  Newsagents are telling customers at the shop and those phoning in to find out what a happened to the paper that it is hoped to have it for delivery on Thursday.  An engineer is  coming in from Aberdeen to fix the problem and the courier should go to press a day later than usual so check your newsagent again on Thursday.

Council Will Build Recycling Centres At Wick And Thurso

The Highland Council has today (Wednesday 29th September) welcomed the award of £49 million from the Scottish Executive's Strategic Waste Fund (SWF) to help improve recycling throughout the Highlands.  A five-point plan of action is geared to increasing the waste recycled to 27,264 tonnes ~ 17.6% - by March 2006.

New Ordnance Survey Web Site Section Lets You Trace Place Name Origins
an interesting and useful addition to the Ordnance survey web site allows you to find out much more about place names in Britain.  If you want to known more about Gaelic, Scots, Welsh or Scandinavian place names then this site may help you to find out.

Wick Town Improvements Awarded £16,000 From Heritage Lottery Towards Fountain
Wick Town Improvements Association have been awarded £16,000 towards their latest project which is to bring the fountain at wick riverside back into working order.  not only that but they plan to add floodlighting to make it a more visible feature.  The group have all the funds in place for the fountain itself but delighted hair-woman Jan Banks says the group still required to raise a further £10,500 for the lighting.
Wick Town Improvements Association runs the local Wick Gala each year as part of its fund raising to help the town.  The WTIA carried on the tradition of earlier times with the crowning of the Herring Queens by starting the Gala to continue to raise money to improve the town.  Its roots are even further back in the early twentieth century.  Wick Gala is still one of the largest of its kind in the Highlands.  See Galas

Wick Kirkwall Flights To Cease
Loganair have announced that the Wick To Kirkwall flights are to cease as there are too few passengers to make it viable.  Caithness area convenor has expressed disappointment at the decisions as he said the flight allowed people to return home at the weekend by air which would no longer be possible in the future.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm facing no confidence motion - BBC
The conservatives hope to use time on Thursday to force a vote of no confidence over the ministers handling of hospital reorganisations such as those in Caithness and many other parts of Scotland.

North Action Group Head For Big Glasgow Demonstration On Saturday
North Action Group's banner will be seen at the big NHS Demonstration being organised by the Scottish Health Campaigns Network which NAG has been involved with since the start a few months ago.  NAG will be seen at more demonstrations being planned.  If you want to support North Action Group's bid to retain services at the maternity unit and live in the Glasgow area why not go along and gather near the banner.

Police, Council And Community Coming Together In Pulteneytown
Pulteneytown is the focus this week of a high profile campaign by the Council Housing Department, the police and people in the area to combat vandalism and crime.  It is part of an ongoing process by agencies to work with the public in the area to tackle problems.  As part of the operation police and housing officials were available in the community safety mobile unit.  The can mark mobile phones and offer information on making your home safer.  The operation made it to the TV today - Watch online
Higher levels of policing have been brought into the area with further resources being targeted at those who cause trouble for law abiding people in the area.  More on the Op

Come To The Highlands If You Want To Be Spotted
The link to this article in the Herald shows that many people think they can disappear in the Highlands but they fail to realise that although it is a vast  area in the north of Britain it is made up of scattered small communities with people who often know the area and landscape intimately.  From the local gamekeeper who knows every tree and bush to farmers who spot anyone unusual in their area to small towns and villages where most outsiders are easily recognised and usually welcomed.  It is not all that easy to merge into the background as several runaways have found recently.

Dunbar Hospital, Thurso On A Bright Sunny Day
Many thanks to Michael Draper for sending in this picture of the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso taken on a beautiful sunny day.  He took the picture as he likes the style of the building.  According To Caithness - An Illustrated Guide by Elizabeth Beaton  - "The hospital was donated by Mr Dunbar of Scrabster and the foundation stone laid by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh , 21 January 1882.  Originally intended for the relief of suffering from disease of any kind and for support of a limited number of aged persons who have seen better days.  From 1924 it has served Thurso as a hospital for the sick, the infirm elderly accommodated elsewhere."

The Economic Importance Of The Arts
A one-day Workshop for arts groups, practising artists and the business community.
Date: Tuesday 12th October 2004, 10.00am-4.30pm Venue: Wick Youth Club, Lower Dunbar Street, Wick Cost: FREE. Lunch provided.
This workshop on how the arts can make a contribution to the local economy is led by Professor Ian Brown, and is supported by Bryan Beattie, an advisor to the Scottish Executive on arts & culture -related issues. It will look at current issues affecting the arts in Caithness, and will draw on the recent work done by Professor Brown on “Revealing the Vision of Caithness”, a study into the local arts sector.

Calling All Budding Playwrights
EVOLVE could help you develop your playwriting skills. If you are an aspiring writer or have just started building your career as a playwright, EVOLVE would help you to hone your skills and cultivate your voice. Over several months the Playwrights’ Studio would provide you with focused script development with support from a director. You would receive advice and training to help you write a new play.  You need to be over 18 to enter the competition to gain a place on the FREE course

Caithness rangers challenge young people to the cone zone
Over two dozen young people took The Highland Council’s annual “cone zone challenge” on Saturday 25 September 2004  at Dunnet Forest in Caithness.  Organised by the Caithness Rangers in the Council’s Planning and Development Service, the challenge attracted 9 teams of secondary school aged, boys and girls including the second Thurso scouts and Wick scouts and the St. Andrews Ambulance cadets and badgers.  The “cone zone” consisted of a series of six stations set in Dunnet Forest where the groups had to tackle a physical or mental challenge working as a team over a limited time period. 

SNP Leader Alex Salmond Called In At The Dounreay Stand At The Conference In Inverness
Delegates to the SNP annual conference at Inverness heard last week how the clean-up of Dounreay is generating international interest in the skills and experience of Scottish companies.  More than a hundred companies are now involved in decommissioning the former experimental reactor establishment, leading to spin-off developments such as the trials and research centres at Janetstown and the business and technology park at Forss.

Fiddle Workshop & Masterclass 30 October Lyth Arts Centre
Under The Expert Hand Of Iain MacFarlane - Blazin Fiddles

Iain was born in Glenfinnan, a small village in Lochaber. Whilst being taught the fiddle from his father and also from Donald Riddell, he also started to receive tutelage on the bagpipes from pipe Major Evan MacRae at the age of 10.   Phone Gordon Gunn on 01955 602831 for further information.   Places for the workshops are strictly limited and will be on a first come first served basis.

East End Boys Club, Wick Hit Big Score Against Golspie Aberdeen in Close Match
The Under 9s challenge match between East End versus Golspie Aberdeen played at the Bignold Park this morning.  East End ran out worthy winners in a very close contest. (10-5) Rematch scheduled for next month in Golspie. East End are unbeaten in their County League. Captained by Jordan Howden (white strip, 3rd from right). Coached by Peter Swanson.


Loch More Shows The Blustery Day In Caithness Today

Fear of revolts delays hospital shake ups  - The Guardian
This article in the guardian shows that what is happening at Caithness General Hospital is going on all over the UK and that politicians are being forced by local people to change or at least halt changes being pushed forward by NHS managers. 
Hospital shake-up staff 'left in limbo'  - The Scotsman - about St John's hospital in West Lothian
NHS board concedes its failures in consulting - The Scotsman - About Glasgow Health Board
Shaping of the NHS - The Herald Editorial

North Action Group Takes To The Streets Today With Postcards and Petition
In a bid to increase the numbers of people replying to the NHS Highland Health Board public consultation North Action Group members will be out today gathering more signatures for the petition to go to the Scottish Parliament and to get folk to send replies to the consultation indicating that they wish to keep the consultant led service at Caithness maternity unit.  the postcards are being distributed widely in shops and many other public places.  North Action Group has purchased a FREEPOST license and all cards can be posted at no cost to the individual.  But returning them direct to NAG members will save NAG from paying the postage as the cards can be collected and delivered by hand.

Barney Has An Audition For The Web - He Tells Us He Got The Part!!!

Health Cuts On Scottish News Broadcasts AS MP's Get Worried  Scotland Today  Scottish Television
Watch the broadcast from today's Scottish Television news as Labour MP's at Westminster get worried about next years elections.  You can watch using Windows Media or Real Player

North Action Group Determined To Keep Up The Pressure As Health Tops The Agendas Again
McConnell signals drastic surgery on health boards - The Herald
Stobhill A&E closure date brought forward - Evening Times

Chairman Of NHS Highland Says No One Will be Turned Away From Public Meetings If Room
Chairman of NHS Highland Gary Coutts stated on Moray Firth Radio today that no one would be turned away from public meetings being held as part of the consultation process on Maternity at Caithness General Hospital if there was room in the halls.   He was being questioned on the need to have a ticket to gain entry to the meetings being held in Caithness and Sutherland.  North Action Group is continuing to encourage people to apply for tickets but still to attend if they do not receive one.  The Assembly Rooms , Wick has been booked for two days and has a capacity in the main hall of 600.  Meanwhile North Action Group members will hit the streets tomorrow to distribute postcards and to encourage people to reply to the NHS Highland consultation paper.

Air Passenger Numbers Increase in Highlands and Islands
The increase over all for highlands & Islands although Wick had decrease of 13 passengers in August compared to last year.  It is possible this might improve when September's figures are released due to the number of people flying in to test the new Range Rover Discovery cars being made available to the press from all over the world.  Many of them are flying in to test drive the vehicles on Caithness and Sutherland roads, beaches and special test areas.
Work to Start on Wick Airport Terminal Upgrade
Work is set to start on the upgrade of Wick airport's terminal building to meet new security requirements.  The works project, which will cost in the region of £800,000, will see a range of improvements introduced and enhance passenger comfort. It will include a new departure lounge, enlarged concourse area, new check-in desks, office accommodation and a hold baggage x-ray facility.

The Money Is Out There For Charities, Voluntary Groups and Individuals
Today another batch of announcements about funds available to the voluntary sector for many types of projects plus a couple open to individuals to apply for such as the Churchill Travelling Fellowship awards.  A few deadlines are now coming up but some are open for a while yet so you have time to get applications forms filled in for your group's latest project.  If you are looking for money for a project then take al look at today's additions to our funding page.

Health Hits The Headlines Yet Again Today
Cuts are accident waiting to happen - Robin Cook MP Writing In The Scotsman
McConnell in threat to axe health boards - Evening Times
Birth rate rise casts doubts on QM closure - Evening Times
Hospital rationalisation dominates Parliament - Scotland Today - Scottish TV
Hospital service cuts scrutinised - BBC News
Subdued celebrations for hospital under threat  - about the Queen Mothers Maternity - The Herald

North Action Group Gets Postcard Campaign Going
NAG members are already pushing ahead with a major postcard distribution to allow the public to respond to the NHS highland Health Board public consultation.  the FREEPOST cards have an answer already printed which if agreed can be signed and sent back or returned to NAG members for forwarding to the Health Board.  On Saturday Nag committee members will take to the streets to get more cards signed and also gain signatures for the petition to go to the Scottish Parliament.  Meantime several voluntary groups in the county are embarking on fund raising events to help ensure the North Action Group can maintain its efforts.

Whaligoe Steps From The Opposite Cliff
Here are pictures of the Famous Whaligoe Steps taken from the cliffs opposite to try to let you see them all at once.  If you have never been there it is difficult to take in the huge take it must have been to construct the steps.  These are views Bill has been aiming to take for along time to add to the pictures already in the Whaligoe Steps section.

Would You Like To Sing This Winter - Why Not Join Caithness Choral Society?
the group meets once a week and prepares for two or three concerts each year often with the Caithness Orchestra.  The society would welcome anyone who wants to sing and in particular is short of men and male bass voices.  You do not need to be a trained singer just have a reasonable voice.

Have You Got Your Tickets For NHS Highland Health Board Maternity Public Meetings
the NHS highl;and Health Board are to hold public meetings as part of the public consultation.  They are limiting the numbers to 100 people per meeting even at the Assembly Rooms in wick which can hold 600.  north Action Group are likely to be holding a demonstration outside the Assembly Rooms on one of the nights to protest at this restriction on numbers.  to be sure of getting in you need a ticket and you can get some by phoning the number on the message board for the date you want.  Meetings are also being held in Thurso, Strathy, Lybster and Halkirkl.

More Headlines On The Health Debate
Tragedy Waiting To Happen - Daily Record
Hospital cuts 'could kill patients' - Scotsman
Chisholm told: maternity changes could kill - The Herald

Wick Engraver Makes His Mark
A former employee of Caithness Glass has just set up his own engraving business, with assistance from his local enterprise company Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE).  Willie Bain was employed by Caithness Glass in Wick for over 30 years as a glass engraver and was also involved in the design and development of new products until he was made redundant in March 2004 when the company went into receivership. Since then he has worked tirelessly to establish his own business, Wick Engraving, and has just taken lease of a unit at the Wick Airport Industrial Estate.

Will Post Boxes In Rural Areas Be Next To Disappear?
Taking pictures of threatened phone boxes made us think that there might be a future threat to post boxes also.  Little did we know that the threat was almost upon us.  With the announcement that postal deliveries and collections are to be opened up to competition there also comes the possibility that as with non profitable phone boxes postal boxes in the rural areas will be considered non-profitable and no company will want to take them on.  We have no information on this  - just posing the question and we would be interested to hear your views on the Message Board on this topic.  With competition as the driving factor will the PO keep them on or be forced was with telephone kiosks be forced to abandon them.  Roland Hill will be turning in his grave to see the universal postal system under threat. Check Postcomm For More

Have You Ever Been To Swartigill Burn? - Now Is Your Chance
Guided walk aling the Swartiglll Burn, an area rich in historic and prehistoric remains. See an abandoned farm settlement, mysterious long houses, ancient lime quarry and the newly recorded "Wag of Swartigill"   Meet At Thrumster church at 5.30pm for a two hour walk led by Islay MacLeod.  Check out the walk in 2002


Can't Make the Meeting? - then Read the Annual Report
The Scheme continues in a sound financial position with the aim of spending as much of the funds available within the year to provide carer support in Caithness. Maybe we were a little too cautious this year, due to the new referral circumstances and achieved a surplus of £5,793, which has been transferred to the reserves.  Based on the audited accounts the total income was £123,656.  A breakdown of the 7936 hours delivered in 2003/04.

Waybaggers Walk At Tongue and Castle Varrich Last September

Warning over 'Tragedy' Amid Hospital Closures  - Scotsman
MSP Jamie Stone warns of deaths in places like Caithness....
Health minister again refuses to delay hospital closure decision - Scotland Today Scottish TV
Under fire Malcolm Chisholm MSP told MSPs on the Health Committee that he will not change any plans that have already been made but would not make any decisions on new closure proposals.

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands has signed a motion that calls for a halt to BT's plans to close around one thousand telephone boxes throughout Scotland.  His colleague Bruce Crawford MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife who lodged the motion calls for better consultation between BT and Community Council's before it goes ahead and closes any boxes. Mr Gibson says that communities in the Highlands and Islands may be worse affected if phone boxes disappear and sights the village of Berriedale in South East Caithness as a prime example.... "The Community council of Berridale have contacted me saying that their phone box is likely to be lost, if this was to happen it would be nothing short of dangerous as there is no mobile reception in the village and the steep and twisting road that run either side which is regarded as many as the worst part of the whole A9.   Bill Fernie's Telephone Box Section
Bill Fernie would like to hear from anyone in Caithness with fears about Telephone box removals near to them. Email

Local Health Campaigns Begin To Waken Politicians To Future Election Chances
As local health campaigns all over Scotland begine to come together for a national campaign there is a build up of activity from MSP's and MP's.  Here are some of the latest reports  of two MSP's - Rob Gibson (SNP) and Maureen MacMillan (Labour)  Meanwhile North Action Group say they are not impressed with the latest announcement from Malcolm Chisholm stating he will not necessarily accept the results of local consultations currently being run by Health Boards.

Local Photographer John Baikie Launches Caithness Photographic Web Site
John Baikie is setting out to make his mark in the photography world with his new web site.  Her recently went full time after several years of part-time work and winning the Photographer of the Year Award in the Highland Media Awards.


Volunteers Flock To Keiss Beach Cleanup
Almost 30 volunteers turned out last Saturday to take part in a local beach clean and monitor at Keiss beach. The clean-up was organised by the rangers in The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service as part of the national Beachwatch event, the most extensive monitoring programme in Europe for coastal and marine litter. The volunteers cleared large amounts of unwanted debris and litter along the rocky section of the shore between the harbour and Stain. Members of the Caithness Critters and the Caithness Countryside Volunteers turned out in force and with help from local residents, created a strong hit squad. The types and quantities of litter were recorded and removed to ensure that the surveyed stretch of beach was rubbish free.

Scaffolding Going Up At Girnigoe Castle As Restoration Work Gets Under Way

The steeplejacks are now on site erecting scaffolding in advance of the next phase of restoration work on the castle.  the trust hope to get a reasonable amount of work done before the winter weather sets in.

Wick Scouts Learn New Skills To Build A Garden
1st Caithness, 1st Wick Scouts with the aid of the BTCV Scotland ( and George Gunn, Master Dry Stone Waller, have begun transforming the adjacent grounds at the Scout Hall. Explorer Scouts applied for the opportunity to work with the BTCV under Leader Plus and under consultation with Scouts, Cubs and Beavers created a design for the garden. Over 7 tonnes of local Caithness Flag stone was brought in and under the watchful eye of George Gunn and the BTCV Volunteers the Explorer Scouts and Scouts learned the art of Dry Stone Walling. They creating a large raised planting area, a seating area and a 'Tomb Stone' style fire pit. It has been a great opportunity for the Scouts to learn new skills and to help improve their local environment.

LEAVING CAITHNESS FOR THE JUNGLE! Fund Raising Gets Going for this Big Trip
Mandy Purves and Ann Cormack To Trek Costa Rica For SSPCA
Fund Raising Events - 25 September 2004

A table at the Car Boot Sale held in the rear co-operative car park in Telford Street, Inverness, this Saturday (25th September). It starts at 10am and finishes at 3pm.  Mandy will be on her own that day so pop along and say hello if you are in Inverness

Kennedy blasts Chisholm over hospital cuts - Scotsman
Charles Kennedy joins the attack on Malcolm Chisholm over Scotland's Health Service

Chisholm orders ban on one-man ambulances
Malcolm Chisholm has ordered a change to this as North Action Group hears police have ordered police officers not to drive ambulances

Your letters on the health debate In the Herald Today

MSP Maureen MacMillan Renews Calls To Rotate Wick Based Consultants
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has written to NHS Highland regarding the ongoing consultation on maternity services in Caithness and renewing her call for consultants to be rotated between Wick and Inverness.

North Highland College 2004 Awards Ceremony
The annual awards ceremony of North Highland College took place on Saturday 18 September.  We reproduce here the opening speech by the Principal of the college -  Rosemary Thomson and the main speaker Dr Colin Bayliss, director of UKAEA's Major Projects and Engineering Division.  the speeches give a good picture of what the college does and how it integrates into the north of Scotland and the contribution it makes to Caithness and Sutherland.

The North of Scotland's annual Food and Drink Festival, Highland Feast, takes place between Thursday 30th September and Sunday 3rd October. This is Highland Feast's fourth year and as always it aims to celebrate the high quality and rich variety of food and drink to be found throughout the Highlands. One of the 41 events taking place is 'Baking in Brora and Dinner with Sue'.  On Friday October 1st respected food writer Sue Lawrence will be celebrating the launch of her new 'Book of Baking' with an afternoon of baking in Brora, at the Royal Marine Hotel. The Baking Afternoon costs £7.50 and the banquet in the evening costs £50.

Unemployment Rate Still On A Downward Trend
Overall, the number of people unemployed in Caithness and Sutherland fell from 755 last month to 745. The revised unemployment rates in the Sutherland, Wick and Thurso 'Travel to Work Areas' respectively are as follows (corresponding figures for last month are in brackets): 3.3% (3.4%), 4.3% (4.4%) and 2.5% (2.4%).

Wick Players Gain Financial Assistance From CASE For Moray Street Premises In Wick
Wick Players, upgrading of Moray Street premises - £3,365 under Community Assistance grants

Ex Caithness Glass Employee Starts Up An Engraving Business
Willie Bain, Wick, a former employee of Caithness Glass Ltd, has started Wick Engraving, which will provide a glass engraving service for businesses or individuals.  Wick Engraving Up) is to receive £2,300 towards the purchase of specialist equipment.

Public Consultation On Banning Smoking In Public Places In Scotland Ends On 30 September
You can all have your say by completing the short online form at the Scottish Executive web site.

Thrumster WRI Organise Whist Drive For North Action Group's Fight To Save Maternity Services
Thrumster WRI are holding a Whist Drive on Wednesday 22nd September 2004 at 7:30pm at Thrumster Hall. All proceeds are going to the North Action Group's campaign fund.  There will be a bottle stall and raffle along with home baking and sandwiches at half time. Come along and support a good cause.

Thurso FC Still Hitting Top Form As They Win 4 - 0 Against Alness
Thurso F.C continued their high scoring form to the new North Caledonian League season. Thurso are top of the league and progressed to the semi-final of The Port Services Cup on Saturday afternoon with a comfortable 4-0 win away to old rivals Alness United. Thurso goals came from an Alan Murray double, Lee MacDougall and a Mark Nicholl penalty. Thurso have now scored 24 goals in their opening 5 matches, thanks to an incredible nine goals from Mark Nicholl and seven from Alan Murray. Next Saturday sees Thurso take on last season's champions Golspie Sutherland at The Dammies with a 3 p.m kick-off.

Keiss Kids Try Horse Power Around The Village

Keiss School  - New Garden Opens After Two Years Work
Willie Watt from Subsea Seven yesterday opened the new garden at Keiss Primary School.  the specially formed committee had worked for two years with the help of Ranger Marina Finlayson to clear up a derelict piece of school ground that had become overgrown. 

Hastigrow - You Pass It Between Wick and Thurso - Do You Ever Take A Closer Look?

Another farming area In the middle of Caithness and at this time the combines and tractors are busy taking in this years crops.  And just to show those new Range Rovers  are all over the county one came past as  camera was actually switched on.  If you snap one why not send in your picture and let us all see where they are getting to

Scottish Masters Junior Bowls  - Thurso

Pictures from this top competition held at Thurso Bowling Club on 4 September.  32 young bowlers from all over Scotland took part.

Hospitals Still Hitting The Headlines In The Papers
McConnell annoyed at vocal MPs -
Sunday Herald
McConnell under attack over hospital protest jibe - -Scotsman
First minister scorns health protests  - The Herald

Lantern Procession ‘Wick, A light in the North’ - Report And More Pictures
On Saturday evening, 11 September 2004, over a thousand people turned out to watch and follow a spectacular community procession through out Pulteneytown and ending out at South Head Quarry, which was organised by Wick Youth Club and Lower Pulteneytown Townscape Heritage Initiative Management Committee. This procession marks the final stage in the permanent display of the Community Public Arts project, “New Media Meets Old” in Telford Street with the switching on of two new media artworks created by commissioned artist Tamsin Williams and young people in Wick.

Range Rover Discovery Put Through Its Paces In Caithness - Life's A Beach

The world's press are arriving daily in Caithness testing the new Range Rover Discovery models.  With its many different road types across Caithness and North Sutherland the are is regarded by motor companies as one of the best locations to try out new vehicles.  Wick in particular is suitable with an airport right on the doorstep of the varied terrain required to try out these rugged vehicles with everything a car could have by way of comfort and strength in an off road vehicle.  There are many of them in the county at the moment in case you think a lot of folk have been incredibly lucky on the lottery.

Caithness Midwife Gets to Top Thirty In Dettol Nurse Of the Year - Cast Your Vote
Meryl Banks a District Nurse/Midwife in Caithness has been recommended for the "Dettol Community Nurse of the Year 2004" by one of her patients, and has managed to progress to the top thirty nominees! She is well-known and highly respected throughout the community.  To have a chance of progressing she needs to have votes cast online at the Dettol web site.  With maternity being the hot topic in Caithness i think we can ll head over to cast our support for midwife from Caithness.  Well done on getting to this stage.
More information can be found on  (click Midwives).

Auckengill Telephone Earmarked To Be Removed
Auckengill telephone box is on the list of payphones to be removed so here are a few more pictures added to the section we already had for this phone.  There is still time to make representations abut any phones on the list for removal but you must be specific giving reasons why a box is required locally.
The Telephone Kiosk list for removal etc

So You Want to Study Something This Winter? - A Few Suggestions
The clocks will change shortly and  maybe you are tryng to think about what to do as the dark evenings draw in.  If you are thinking about a course then in Caithness ou can try Thurso College and its extension in Wick or an evening class at Wick or Thurso High.  If you are on an income of less then £15,000 the Scottish Executive has announce that Lean Direct Scotland will shortly offer grant of up to £200 to assist with education.  A new web site will be launched shortly with details.  Our Free Courses and Training page is still there for you to browse for ideas of things you can do online.

Loads-A-Money On Offer To Voluntary Groups and Individuals Today
A range of announcements of interest to voluntary groups, young individuals in sport and artists are in today's update in the Funding Page today.  Amongst the deadlines coming up are the Rural Challenge Fund grants that offers grants for a wide range of projects - get your application in by 21 October.

Partnership Of Authorities And Local People Sets Out To Reduce Vandalism and Crime In Wick
Police in Caithness have joined forces with the Local Authority Housing Department and Pulteneytown People's Project to combat vandalism in the area.  Under the auspices of the recently formed Caithness Vandalism Action Group, partners have committed to a high profile operation in the upper Pulteneytown area of Wick.  "The initiative code named "Operation Values" although chiefly combating vandalism, is anticipated to attract information in relation to other issues such as antisocial behaviour, crimes of dishonesty and drug related offences" said local Area Commander Chief Inspector John MacDonald.

Wick Academy Win Agains Golspie 2 - 1 Tonight - Report By Derek Bremner
Wick Academy beat Golspie Sutherland at home tonight 2-1 to reach the semi-final of the North of Scotland Cup and a home tie to either Forres Mechanics, Rothes or Elgin City on the 12th October.  Golspie took lead early in 1st half and then lead to H/T then Wick stepped it up and were rewarded with a stone wall penalty from which Martin Gunn scored. Then a bit of madness by players as one of each team was sent off.  MaCallum for Wick & Pullen for Golspie.  The game started to get niggly and plenty of bookings. On came Gary Weir who had two great chances to score but for wonderful save by the Golspie goalie but then minutes later scored the goal to take Academy through to semi final.  Academy were missing Goalie Don Macmillan due to injured toe & Criag Shearer missing too with defender Alec Lamb in the Goals.

Keiss Roadside Broch Revealed After Strimming
Dr Andy Heald the archaeologist for Caithness Archaeology Trust led a group round four Sinclair Bay brochs on Sunday.  Dr Heald and volunteers had cleared the weeds and strimmed the vegetation back to allow a closer look at the normally overgrown broch.  Other brochs visited were Nybster, Keiss Harbour and Whitegate a bit further along the shore.

Caithness Wins Major Grant For £3.5 Million District Heating Scheme
Highland Councillors in Caithness are delighted with the success of a major funding application to promote the first wood-waste fuelled Combined Heat and Power system in Scotland at Wick. The Energy Saving Trust has announced a £1.54 million grant today which is fundamental to the success of the £3.5 million first phase of this project. The Council's Caithness Area Committee has agreed to contribute £1.8 million from its Warm and Dry Programme and a bid is being made for £200,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.

New Locum Consultant Obstertician & Gynaecologist At Caithness General
Dr H. R. van Huyssteen, MB.Ch.B., FRCOG, M.Med (O&G) took up the post of Locum Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Caithness General Hospital on Monday 13 September 2004. Dr van Huyssteen, who has lived and practised private obstetrics and gynaecology in South Africa for 22 years, has taken up the post initially for one month:

Let the people decide, says head of health reform - The Herald
THE Scottish public were yesterday promised they would be placed at the heart of future decision-making on health.  Professor David Kerr of Oxford University, the Glaswegian charged with designing future health strategy, appealed to all citizens to join the debate which will shape the health service for the next 20 years.........
North Action Group are shortly to launch the next part of its campaign to save Caithness Maternity Services.

Caithness Glassblower Takes Artistic and Scientific Awards
Highly regarded Dounreay and Thurso glassblower Ian Pearson recently added a unique double award to his trophy cabinet. At a symposium, in mid-August, organised by the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers, of which Ian is currently its chairman, Ian’s entry in the technical glass category was judged by those present as the best exhibit of 2004. Ian’s entry was a roller tool that he has developed over twenty years, and is designed to produce an even wall thickness in glass tubing. The same entry was also judged to be the most artistic exhibit...

Community Memorial Garden Group In Wick Receives £860 Donation From Local Woman
Carol Smith raised £860 form a sponsored walk of the West Highland Way (85 miles).  The World War Two Air Raid Victims Group in Wick has been working for the past two years to move towards a suitable memorial to those who died in the first daylight bombing in Britain on 1 July 1940.  The bomb site lies derelict and the group hope to create a tranquil area dedicated to those killed.

The Wick Society Looks To The Future - Wick Heritage Centre Expansion
The Wick Society’s premises at Bank Row are bursting at the seams with documents, pictures and artefacts of all kinds chronicling the history of Wick and the surrounding area.  With detailed studies now completed, the Society recently agreed an action plan for conserving and developing the Wick Heritage Museum and its important collections.  As a first step, selection of a suitable architect is under way. The architect will oversee the urgent repairs required to keep the existing premises in good condition, before attention turns to the construction of a museum and archive store on the adjacent property formerly known as Cowie’s Yard. The new, purpose-built store will include workshop and study areas and will be open to the public.

Traditional Fiddle Classes Changed Dates - Plus Additional Workshop With Gordon Gunn
The workshop has had to be rescheduled to the weekend workshop at the end of October until Mid April but there is also another doing one 1st week in November 2005.  At present we are running a smaller workshop on 30th October with one fiddle tutor in Lyth Arts Centre, this is something intended to do on a 3 monthly basis between the larger event which will be held in Wick to keep momentum going.
Down load application forms and more info on the day at

Mandy Purves and Ann Sutherland To Trek Costa Rica For SSPCA

The pair are planning to take part in a 10 day Jungle Trek in Costa Rica, to raise money for the SSPCA. The trek will take place from 26th November to 6th December 2005, and is quite a challenging trek, covering some rough terrain.  Costa Rica has a huge variety of landscapes, climates and environments. It is home to five per cent of the planet’s biodiversity. Everything from palm tree-lined tropical beaches to smoking volcanoes, cloud forest, rainforest and mangrove swamps awaits us in Costa Rica!  The pair intend to raise funds for the trip by holding a range of events up to the time they leave.

Pultenytown Academy Primary School, Wick - September Newsletter

Murchison Street, Wick Taking On New Look As Refurbishment Goes On

Murchison Street is nearing the end of a refurbishment of the houses owned by Highland Council.  The new look houses should be much warmer this winter with the insulation added on the outside of each house and fresh rendering.  Murchison Street is also the place where the Pulteneytown People's Project is based with a rising number of local projects aiming to improve the amenities of the area.

Caithness Whisper With A Warning
Do you really want to buy a square foot or less of Scottish land.  Around the world there are plenty of people with scams skimming on the edge of legality and sales of tiny pieces of land seem to fit the bill.  Essentially you get a piece of paper for you money showing you have bought the land and possibly some unheard of obscure title which again is usually meaningless having passed out of use.  Ask yourself if your bit of land carries the title what about all the other tiny land owners.  Legal or not this oddity in land sales is plain daft.

"MSP Chisholm told to 'get a grip'" BBC
"MPs are right: someone has to get a grip on health" - The Herald
"MPs tell Chisholm: We’ll disown you on health" -
The Herald
"Hospital cuts are bigger threat than Iraq, Chisholm told" - Scotsman
As headlines in the papers like the Herald and TV programmes this week such as Newsnight and others are showing local difficulties for the Scottish Parliament like Caithness General Hospital might lose Labour MP's their seats at Westminster.  That thought has provoked strong reactions from them as can be seen by Malcolm Chisholm being summoned to meet them in London yesterday.  Robin Cook the former foreign Secretary and MP for the area in which a hospital in Livingston threatened with downgrading sits is one of those most outspoken over the current situation in the Scottish Health service.  It remains to be seen whether Westminster MP's can influence the situation with the Scottish Executive when the matter is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  North Action Group is also well aware that similar groups are beginning to form in parts of England so perhaps Labour MP's may think that not only in Scotland might they be punished for the threats to local hospitals at the elections for Westminster seats in 2005.  Maternity Campaign In Caithness

Sutherland Caledonian Pipe Band In Lybster
The Sutherland Caledonian Pipe Band in Lybster on Saturday evening. It was followed by a ceilidh in the Bayview in aid of the MacMillan Nurses Fund.  George Sutherland who is 85 and used to run the draper/haberdashery shop with his wife and sister was out enjoying the show.

Scottish Food Fortnight 2004 runs for two weeks from Saturday 18 September, and the organisers of Scottish Food Fortnight are encouraging people to slow down and enjoy buying and eating local food. Hopefully this will encourage people to discover the great food and drink in their area and support their local communities.  “Take some time out,” urges Jo Papworth, Project Manager of Scottish Food Fortnight “and enjoy Scottish food and drink”. Jo continued: “Maybe it’s been a while since your last proper Sunday Roast, or maybe you’ve been so busy that you haven’t had a chance to prepare food from scratch for a while. In today’s hectic world it happens to us all so why not make a special effort over these two weeks, take a detour from your normal routine and go to a farmers market, or your local butchers shop - take some time out and rediscover the joys of buying and cooking local produce.  Caithness has lots of fresh fish, meat and vegetables - use it!!

Skelbo Telephone - Not On The Hit List To Go
Here we go with another phone in a lovely part of Sutherland known to many Caithness folk as they drive up and down the 105 miles between Wick and Inverness.  Check the list to see if a phone near you is being removed and check to see if there is any good reason why it should be kept and then write to the highland Council in Inverness who are co-ordinating responses to BT.

Scientist's Nephew Sees Round Dounreay
New Zealander Tony Hurst today (14 September 2004) made a nostalgic visit to the former experimental reactor establishment where his uncle led the world in fast reactor technology.  The late Dr Robert Hurst was the first director of Dounreay from 1958 until 1963 when the site’s landmark fast reactor became the first in the world to supply electricity to a national grid.  His nephew, Dr Tony Hurst, is touring the UK with his wife Margaret and decided to seek out the site of his uncle’s pioneering work.  The couple called in yesterday at the visitor centre at Dounreay that tells the story of the world-leading research carried out there from the 1950s, and how the project is now being dismantled.

Right To Swim Campaign Aims To Change Recent Rules On Child Parent Ratios
Some of you will remember that swimming pools in Highland changed their policy on how many children a parent or adult could supervise in swimming pools.  The restrictions were not welcomed in Caithness but have remained ever since.  Now a national campaign is rising to change the rules once again.

Ben Stack In North West Sutherland - Another Caithness Waybaggers Day Out
This hill lies six miles South West of Rhichonich in the North West of Sutherland. We had to go the long way along the North coast as we had to pick up one of our party in Thurso. Loch Eriboll is very beautiful but the drive down one side and up the other is very frustrating. By the time we reached our starting point at the shores of Loch Stack the rest of the party was already there. They had travelled the shorter route via Lairg.  Ben Stack is 2364 ft high, 50 ft higher than Morven.

Your More Store In Wick & Thurso -
50% Off Sale As Company Goes Into Administration
Your More Store has 180 leasehold retail stores in locations throughout Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland including one in Wick and Thurso   The stores have 1,400 employees in total.  All the stores are up for sale as part of the administration.  The stores will continue to trade under administration until further until a buyer is found.  70 Stores were closed yesterday

Councillors Refuse Planning Permission For 29 Plots At West Gills, Thurso - Press & Journal
Councillors in Caithness yesterday refused planning permission for 29 plots at West Gills Thurso.  the full story is in today's Press & Journal.

Well Known Dounreay Scientist Dr Eric Voice Has Died
Nuclear scientist Dr Eric Voice who worked at Dounreay for many years, has died at 80 following an illness.  Dr Voice who wrote often to the newspapers was extremely confident in his views of the safety of using plutonium in a safe environment and even had injections of it given to himself as part of an experiment with others in 1997.  Dr Voice thought much of what was written in the media about plutonium was hype not based on the facts.  He apparently suffered no ill effects from his testing the material on himself

Renting Property?  Try Our Low Cost Ads In the Property Section
Whether you are looking for a property or have one to let then check the property section. 

From The New Archivist At Wick - Rachael Taylor
"Just a quick note to introduce myself as the new Archivist at North Highland Archive in Wick. I began work here at the start of August and it's great to be able to work in such lovely surroundings! I have worked in various archives around Scotland including the National Archives of Scotland, University of Edinburgh and Glasgow City Council."


"Ill-feeling over builders of NHS future" - The Herald
Dr George Venters, leader of the National Health Campaigns Network (North Action Group is a member of this network), accused the group of having no credibility and questioned exactly what it is supposed to achieve.  The Scottish Executive claims the body will "develop a national framework for service change", but Dr Venters dismissed the brief as "flimflam". 
Today Letters At The Herald  - More On The Health Debate

Caithness Cultural Trust Family Fun  - First Event Last Saturday

A few pictures from the vent held in the Waterfront, Wick on Saturday as part of Doors Open Day

New mothers sleeping in storeroom - The Herald
The Herald newspaper web site highlights the case of women sleeping storerooms at Dundee's Ninewells Hospital.  Mothers are being transferred from Perth following the maternity unit downgrading.   North Action Group fighting to stop the downgrading of Caithness General hospital see this as the predictable outcome that will happen at Raigmore for rural mothers.  The Herald article says "David Sedgwick, a surgeon at Belford Hospital in Fort William, said the problem of long waiting lists at many city hospitals will be exacerbated by many more patients from downgraded smaller hospitals being sent to cities for treatment".

Caithness duo excel in Britain¹s biggest cycling race - Tour Of Britain 2004
Two cyclists from Caithness , Evan Oliphant and, youngest rider in the team, 19 year old David Smith were part of the six man squad representing Scotland.  The Tour of Britain, from September 1-5, was the the most exciting and prestigious road race in the UK for a very long time ­ and featured arguably, the best-ever line up of cycling superstars. With 16 teams comprising medal winners from the Athen¹s Olympics, Tour de France top performers Kloden, Azevedo, Rubiera, and Boonen plus a host of regular front runners

Letters Page Of The Herald Keeps the Health Debate On The Boil
Several interesting letters today in the Herald and available on their web site.

Dounreay Sports and Social Club - Viewfirth Setting Out The Future
The club is holding and Extraordinary General Meeting on Sunday 19th September 2004 - 7.30pm, with the main topic of discussion being the future of  the club. At this meeting different ways forward will be presented to the members for their consideration.  As many of the members, both full and associate, should  attend.  A good attendance is essential, as then more members will hear what has to be said first hand, and a great proportion of the members will be able to decide upon the way forward.

The two Caithness wildlife workshops held recently by Ranger in The Highland Councils' Planning and Development Service proved to be a great success. The 'Batty about Bats' workshop at Dunbeath attracted more than a dozen people and the 'Caithness Cetaceans' workshop at Lybster saw more than thirty people over the course of the day.

New Photo Section For Cruise Ships Calling At Scrabster

Accelerated Decommissioning Keeps The Contracts Flowing
The formal signing of the contract to build a waste-handling facility for storing solid intermediate-level radioactive waste (ILW) at Dounreay recently awarded to Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd by UKAEA, took place in the board-room of Forss Business Park.  The contract, valued in excess of £10 million will increase the site's capacity for storing ILW arising from the site's accelerated decommissioning programme.

Thurso Scottish Country Dance Club Gets Going For A New Season on 15 September
Thurso Scottish Country Dance Club will be starting their new season of dancing on 15th September. They meet every Wednesday in the Thurso Club, Janet Street, Thurso, and would be delighted to see new members. Any lapsed dancers from the former country dance group in Wick would be particularly welcome.

'Show your commitment to Caithness Maternity' is Rob Gibson's challenge to Jamie Stone and Maureen Macmillan.  The SNP MSP challenge comes after the Liberal Democrat MSP for Caithness and Sutherland and Easter Ross and Labour list MSP for the Highlands and Islands have yet to sign Dr Jean Turner's parliamentary motion that calls for a moratorium on centralisation of NHS services in Scotland, until a national strategy is formed.

Health Reform - No Pain No Gain - The Sunday Herald
As health campaigns such as North Action Group in Caithness and others have taken off all over the country newspapers everywhere are now on the case.  With cumulative signatures on various petitions now reaching 250,000 this is the biggest revolt by people since the poll tax.  The North Action Group petition is also yet to be added to the total as it is still circulating in the county heading for a hand over in October.  The Health Board Ships may be slowing but they have not yet changed direction.  The consultation for Caithness General maternity is already well underway but demands for it to be extended or even postponed until after a national review are growing.

Health Campaigns Heading To Take On The Politicians Over Cuts In Services - Sunday Mail
North Action Group is part of the group heading to form a new political party to ensure that the cuts in services being discussed all over Scotland do not happen without a fight where it really counts  - at the ballot box.  For many months NAG has been represented at meetings in Perth of the new group.  NAG members like others wait to see if Health Boards can be made to stop their current moves to downgrade and close services against the wishes of patients who happen also to be voters.

First Birthday Party For Baby Shannon At Reiss
A first birthday party was held at Reiss on Sunday for family and friends of baby Shannon who is now one year old.  Handy things village halls when you have a big group of people to entertain and plenty of room for all the games for the kids.  they often so far have telephone kiosks outside which was why we were there today getting a few views of the Reiss box for the collection.


Tomatoes Along The Wick River Again This Year
Following last years hot summer and tomatoes found growing on the Wick river and Thurso beach we thought we would check again this year to see if global warming was making it possible for the plants to grow once again. Sure enough many plants and few with small fruits are present on the river bank.  Anyone seen them in Thurso yet?   Wick 2003   Thurso 2003
Speaking of plants - Has anyone thought about planting Bog Myrtle following the breaking story that Highland peaty soils may be set to make folk a fortune with this plant that has many uses.  Commercial production may be set to follow and Caithness would seem ideal.

Guide Dogs For The Blind - Caithness Group Fund Raising Walk
The local branch of Guide Dogs For The Blind held a fund raising walk from Wick High School to Milton and back via Newton Hill.  Guide Dogs is the national UK charity that supplies dogs and full training for blind people in the UK.  The Caithness branch often has stalls at local events. 

Any Emails Sent in the Past Few Weeks Unanswered?
Apologies to anyone who has not had a reply to emails sent in recent weeks but all of them have been lost as Bill's hard drive burnt out.  Also any pictures or items sent for the web site are also lost.  If you sent anything in recent weeks and it has not appeared on the site please feel free to send it again.  All email addresses have been lost on Bill's hard drive.  The Newsletter emails are OK and it will be out soon

'Scapegoat' claim by sacked Polish doctor The Scotsman
A letter from Dr Samberger one of the Polish consultants dismissed from Caithness General was printed in the John O'Groat Journal on Friday.  Both Polish doctors are thought to be considering legal action against NHS Highland.   Polish Speakers Go Here

Wick A Light In The North
A community event organised by Wick Youth Club saw a procession with may children and folk from the town carrying lanterns made by young people in the Wick Youth Club Summer Workshops.  the procession went from Miller Street celebrating the switch on of the New Media Works to the South Head Quarry for a low level fire display and fireworks.
Wick was the place last year in September when Assipattle was staged around the town.

Rutherhall Farm, Watten Payphone Scheduled For Removal
OK we are taking the pictures and begin to think about the reasons behind the removal.  It is about money but should they be removed for that reason.  Once they were considered to be a public service.  That was in the days when they were still in public hands before privatisation.  Did some of these phones ever make a profit - it seems doubtful in remote locations.  Your comments on the message board might be of interest.  Do you live near one of the phones to be lost.  Does it have some vital use for a neighbour or the community nearby?  Do visitors need it? What about emergencies - can you always rely on mobile phones?

Williamson Street Payphone Scheduled For Removal
OK we will never get to them all but here we go over the next week or so with pictures of payphones either remaining or to be removed.  This first one in the latest run is at the junction of Williamson Street and Martha Terrace in Wick.  Bill has been taking pictures of many others on his way between meetings in Inverness and Wick.  Some are in Caithness and some in Sutherland with some good views.  If you can think of reasons why a particular payphone is required for social reasons then let BT know by 1 October.

Caithness Business Club Meeting On Maternity
The Caithness Business Club held an open meeting to debate the possible affect on the far north economy and local businesses.  David Dunnet chairman introduced speakers Rob Gibson SNP MSP, David Flear Caithness area convenor, George Bruce, chairman of North Action Group, Vice chair of NHS Highland Health Board, councillor David Alston and Mary Scanlon conservative MSP.  Jamie Stone MSP sent apologies as he was attending a family wedding in Ireland and John Thurso MP also sent apologies.

Caithness Cultural Trust Presents an Afternoon At The Waterfront Wick 1.00 - 4.30pm
1.00 - 1.05 Introduction by J.Bruce - Compere H.Reilly
1.05 - 1.20 Handbell Ringers - 1.20 - 1.40 C.McDougall - 1.40 - 2.40 B.Pegg - 2.40 - 2.50 T.Horne
2.50 - 3.00 J.Stewart - 3.00 - 3.10 C.McDougall - 3.10 - 3.20 T.Horne - 3.20 - 3.30 Handbell Ringers
3.30 - 4.20 Bongo Drums - 4.20 - 4.30 Prizes

Crossroads Care (Caithness) New Staff In Post
Crossroads Care the organisation in Caithness that provides hundreds of hours of respite care with volunteers each year in the county have appointed two new staff following the departure of Maggie Page.  Mrs Susan Mileham is the new Care Manager and Mrs Fiona Robertson is the Office Manager.  Both ladies will work part time in the office at Scrabster at times between 0900 - 1600 from Monday to Friday depending on their workload and the need for the Care Manager to be out of the office to visit clients.

Impact of health care cuts subject of study - The Herald
Brief details about the Highland Council and Highlands And Islands Enterprise study into the impact of health cuts at Caithness General now being conducted.

Caithness Nappy Business Short-Listed For E-Commerce Award
Ella's House a local Caithness business selling real nappies online has been short-listed for an award in the e-commerce section of of the UK E-Commerce AwardsElla's House has been working hard over the past couple of years to promote a return to the modern real nappy and get people to think hard about using disposable nappies that end up in landfill sites.  This local Caithness business now has a wide range of nappies to choose from and it makes ecological sense as many more new customers are discovering by ordering direct online.  Congratulation to Ella's House out there in deepest Bower.

BT Telephone Kiosks  - Another Rural Downgrading?
Well we never thought the phones around the countryside would disappear as they have been there for so long.  Bill started the quirky section to show you round the area and now many of them may disappear before Bill gets to them.  He is on the case and is snapping more every day if he passes them.   In Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross there are 240 payphones at present.  44 loss making phones are to be retained as an essential service to the community.  108 phones will be removed.  88 profitable phones will be retained.   Over the next couple of weeks Bill will try to reach a few more before they disappear for ever unless saved by people contacting BT via the planning officer at Highland Council in Inverness with reasons why they should be kept.  Highland council has nothing to do with the removal but is acting to co-ordinate the responses to BT.  Make sure you let them know about valid reasons  - not generalisations.  Be specific if you know something that might affect the retention.  Could be poor mobile phone reception area.  You only have until 1 October unless they extend the deadline.

NHS Highland has announced details of progress on its discussions with local communities and GPs about plans to provide an alternative service when GPs take up their option of opting out of providing services outside surgery opening hours.  If you have views on the new out of hours GP services you have only got until 24 September to make representations to the NHS Highland Health Board

Latest On The Maternity Fight
Yesterday and today saw a flurry of attacks on the NHS Highland Health Board and the Health minister Malcolm Chisholm.  Locally Bill Wallace a Wick minister issued a statement from the Caithness presbytery questioning the need for a consultation as the Health Board admits it already knows what the public wants in the north in respect of maternity services.  Several newspapers and TV and Radio have also been highlighting the problems of hospitals the length of Scotland and politicians were on the attack in Edinburgh.

Caithness Business Club To Examine Business Consequences of Downgrading
An open public meeting in Assembly Rooms Wick will have a top table of politicians and others to discuss the business problems  following any downgrading of the maternity unit in Wick.  The Caithness Business Club have opened the meeting to any members of the public who wish to attend at 7.00pm.

Caithness Tourist Action Group
A new group looking to push forward the Caithness Tourist agenda will meet in the Nethercliffe Hotel, Louisburgh Street, Wick at 2.30pm on Friday 10 September.  All Welcome.

Back In Action
Sorry about the lack of updates for the last week or so, a hard drive died and we have had to wait until now to get a replacement.  A good lesson for all, have you backed up your data :)  We should be back to normal later today.