18th July 2018
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Update on SIC workers’ White House return expected ‘soon’

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A timescale outlining when council staff can return to the troubled “White House” building should be available in the coming weeks, elected members have learned.

Councillors were told further tests on the North Ness premises, which were evacuated on 20th September last year, were due to be carried out soon.

It came after questions from South Mainland councillor Allison Duncan during the policy and resources meeting on Monday.

Mr Duncan had focused on a report which highlighted the controversial North Ness “decant”.

It said services were suffering “efficiency pressures” because of staff working from separate temporary locations.

The report, written by corporate services director Christine Ferguson, added “substantial” additional technical and legal resources have been required to safeguard the council’s interests.

Addressing elected members, Ms Ferguson said a lot of work had been carried out to investigate the issue concerning the building.

Asked about a timescale for staff moving back, she said: “I am hoping to advise on that soon. Further tests are due in the next few weeks, and once that’s done I hope to have a timescale that I can advise members.”

The keys to the new £7.3 million, 3,000 square metre premises were handed over to the council in 2012.

But around 200 workers had to evacuate the offices only four years after the opening date.

Concerns had emerged the building could be suffering from structural issues.

It later emerged problems identified with the flooring in the building were not covered by insurance.

In March a freedom of information request submitted by this newspaper showed Shetland Islands Council has paid £264,834.50 in rent for its North Ness headquarters – but only since evacuating the building.

However, that figure only covered the council’s rent to Shetland Leasing and Property, which owns the premises, from 1st October. It did not include rent paid earlier that would have covered the period from the evacuation in September until 1st October.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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