17th February 2018
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Council plans drastic cut in subsidy to cafes and restaurants

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The SIC is attempting to drastically reduce the level of public subsidy handed out to cafes and restaurants in Shetland after a concerted effort with the outlets in question.

Following complaints by private businesses about a situation which has seen subsidies of £429,000 a year being handed out to seven different catering services, a review was carried out last summer and the council’s head of economic development Neil Grant informed members on Thursday that plans have been put in place so that the figure should be able to fall to £50,000 by April 2013.

Mr Grant has been working with the various outlets on finding ways to reduce their reliance on the local authority, most notably Clickimin’s Horizons Café which closed down altogether last summer and has recently re-opened as Da Muckle Café under a franchise arrangement.

He said other eateries including Da Haaf Restaurant in Scalloway and the Hay’s Dock Café have both produced plans to break even within three years. He described that aspiration as “reasonable in terms of the assumptions they were based on”, while others are also looking at contracting out and finding savings. Last year’s review also included the Blue Rock Café at Islesburgh, Shetland Arts’ café at the Bonhoga Gallery and COPE Ltd’s catering service.

During Thursday’s meeting of the development committee, councillor Betty Fullerton said it would be important to ensure that any remaining subsidies were being handed out in an equitable manner. Mr Grant accepted that, but said there would at time still be “services that we might want to support or encourage under the Shetland brand”.

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