Plans for a new Eric Gray Centre in Lerwick should be prioritised on the council’s capital list, although the Charitable Trust should be approached to help pay for it.
That was the message from members of the SIC’s services committee, when they heard the existing 30-year-old building would struggle to cope with a projected rise in demand for the service from people with learning disabilities.
At present there are 92 adults eligible for services at Eric Gray on account of their learning disabilities, however councillors learned this figure is expected to rise to 196 by 2020.
Scalloway architects Redman and Sutherland have already been commissioned to carry out a feasibility study into the develop-ment, expected to cost over £5 million in capital if built on the Seafield site.
It has found approximately 1,770 sq/m of accommodation is needed to meet current and predicted future needs – far more than the 630 sq/m the current building occupies at Kantersted.
As such, the existing centre cannot provide the quality of accommodation, or adequate space to meet future needs.
The proposed building costs of £5.32 million includes construction, internal furniture, plus fittings and fees.
Members of the services committee were asked to consider identifying services which could be cut or reduced to cover the additional costs of building the centre.
Alternatively they were asked to asked to make an additional draw on council reserves.
West Side councillor Frank Robertson said the current Eric Gray had served its purposes well over the last 30 years, but added a better facility was needed.
Convener Sandy Cluness said the council should work together with Shetland Charitable Trust to help make the centre a reality.
“In the past care homes in rural areas were built using charitable trust money.
“The Eric Gray comes into that because it relates to a specific group of people the Charitable Trust could well stand to help, and my view is the charitable trust is probably the body to put up capital for it.”