29th September 2016
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Councillors unimpressed by firm’s no show

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Facilities management firm Shetland FM has been accused of having a “disregard” for the licensing board after representatives from the firm failed to appear at a board meeting.
Peter Campbell levelled the accusation against the firm while fellow councillor Allison Duncan accused them of having “little to no interest” in progressing their application for an extension of on sale hours at the Sella Ness accommodation units.

Shetland FM had been asked to attend this morning’s meeting in Lerwick after councillors decided last month they would like to address some concerns to a representative of the firm before granting or denying their application.

The Sella Ness accommodation units are managed by Shetland FM and house Shetland Gas Plant workers.

Depute clerk to the board Susan Brunton noted that the deferral had occurred because the council wanted to give the applicant a chance to discuss the councillors’ concerns, chief among which was the question of whether the premises would be exclusively for residents or if it would permit entry to the general public.

She added that an invitation had been extended to the firm but sought to remind councillors that Shetland FM were under no obligation to attend.

Despite this Lerwick councillor Amanda Westlake stated that she was “unhappy”, adding that she felt “questions have not been answered”.

Ms Westlake went on to say: “Until those questions are answered I am reluctant to approve or refuse this application.”

Board member Malcolm Bell pondered whether the question was relevant, and asked Ms Brunton whether the council could, by law, ban the general public from the accommodation units.

She responded to that by saying: “I think you could make it a condition that it is a residents only premises.”

The meeting was briefly adjourned to allow Ms Brunton to ascertain the details of the absence. Upon her return she confirmed that a letter had been sent to the firm and that they had acknowledged receipt of this letter by telephone two weeks ago.

It was at this point that Mr Campbell and Mr Duncan expressed their displeasure with the firm.

Mr Bell asked the chamber, “what’s to be gained by giving them another month?” He also wondered whether the board should simply refuse the licence at this point in time.

Shetland north councillor Alastair Cooper said he was not “inclined to refuse at this stage” but did add that he was in two minds about whether the extended hours were appropriate given the strict no alcohol policy at the Shetland Gas Plant.

The chamber eventually decided to approve a motion put forward by Cecil Smith earlier in the meeting, when he suggested they postpone making a decision until July.

This was approved with the proviso that Shetland FM be sent a letter asking for their attendance at a future meeting. The letter would also contain a copy of the minutes from the discussion, which licensing board chairman George Smith said would give “evidence of our displeasure with their failure to appear.”

Shetland FM later apologised for not having been represented at the meeting.

A company statement said: “This has been a genuine administrative oversight on our part for which we have apologised. We will be getting in touch with the council to try to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

AboutKeegan Murray

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