Fetlar breakwater funding slippage infuriates North Isles councillor
The council has had to re-apply for European funding towards the project to give folk in Fetlar their long-awaited breakwater after it mysteriously disappeared from the capital programme.
Grant funding of £300,000 from the European Regional Development Fund towards the berthing phase of the breakwater has lapsed and been “de-committed”, leaving North Isles councillor Laura Baisley feeling “bloody furious” about the situation.
A fresh application has now been submitted and councillors agreed during Thursday morning’s development committee meeting that there would need to be a firm commitment to go ahead with the project in the next financial year to help secure the money.
Ms Baisley said the project seemed to be no further ahead than it was when she first took her seat on the council two and a half years ago. “I’m so fed up with this. We’re going round and round in circles and fiddling around. I’m bloody furious, I feel so angry, I’m shaking,” she said, before apologising for using intemperate language in the chamber.
There was no dispute around the table about the worthwhile nature of the £3 million project, seen as imperative to Fetlar’s future wellbeing and viability as a community. The island’s ageing population has fallen to around 50 in recent years.
Lerwick North councillor Allan Wishart said: “I’ve always detected that members are very supportive. It would look awful if we lost the money because the time lapsed.”
Development committee chairman Josie Simpson agreed, saying it was regrettable that “somehow it fell off the capital programme”, leaving North Isles member Robert Henderson to stress: “I don’t think we can afford not to do it.”
A team has been put in place by chief executive David Clark to work on a list of priorities for the SIC’s capital programme, which will amount to £100 million over the next five years not including the new Anderson High School and a £20 million house-building scheme. Councillors will meet sometime in the next few months to decide on which projects will and will not go ahead.