SIC wants to ditch rural registrars and centralise service in town
Registration of births, deaths and marriages could be centralised to Lerwick, with the closure of 20 home-based rural registrar offices.
A consultation is taking place on the proposal, which could spell an end to the presence of registrars in Bressay, Fair Isle, Dunrossness, Sandwick, Burra, Tingwall, Whiteness, Sandsting, Sandness, Foula, Nesting, Lunnasting, Delting, Northmavine, Whalsay, Skerries, Unst, Mid & South Yell, North Yell and Fetlar.
It was one of a plethora of reviews sanctioned by the last council in February 2012 and, it is estimated, would save the SIC £25,000 a year. It is part of the overspending local authority’s relentless effort to balance its books by 2017.
Centralisation would mean the loss of 20 retained posts, adding up to the equivalent of one full-time member of staff.
The consultation document states that a centralised service would be “better equipped to address new technologies and services into the future” and would remove “duplication of effort”.
It is suggested mobile appointments in outlying areas could be a solution in “exceptional cases when informants are unable to travel”.
In 2012, 366 out of 566 registrations were carried out in Lerwick. On average, nine registrars carry out five or less registrations a year.
The net cost of a registration in Shetland is £149, compared to only £66 in Orkney and £93 in the Western Isles.
Other options included in the consultation are various permutations which would see some of the rural registrar services maintained.
The document states: “The preferred option at this stage is to centralise the service to the Lerwick office, as this is the only option that can meet both the objectives and the principles of the review.
“The registration service is a conscientious and reliable service, and this review is not about any individual registrar, their performance or their community. It is about providing a basis for a modern and improved service into the future, whilst achieving best value for the whole community of Shetland.”
Anyone who wants to respond to the consultation can do so by writing to the SIC’s governance and law department at the North Ness, or by emailing Administrative.email@example.com before Tuesday 2nd April.