Shetland Recreational Trust wants to build fitness suites to extend three of its rural leisure centres around the isles at a cost of £300,000.
As part of its wish list, the SRT wants to provide 45 sq. metre extensions at Sandwick, Scalloway and Mid Yell at a cost of £100,000 apiece, as well as a £41,000 porch to provide a draught lobby at the centre in Aith and the installation of a lift linking all floors at the Clickimin leisure centre.
No funding has been identified to take the projects forward, a situation which SRT chairman Joe Irvine said “depresses me” because there are “a whole lot of developments we would like to see”.
SRT general manager James Johnston said he hoped external funding, particularly from the lottery, might be more accessible once the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games have passed.
Trustee John Nicolson said he was optimistic that there will be money available again locally, particularly “if the council’s finance department can show the optimism they have”.
Having seen the trust’s budget under extreme pressure from spiralling energy prices over the past two years, Mr Johnston has held initial discussions with Scottish Power and SSE to look at alternative systems of providing energy at its various premises.
Mr Johnston told a quarterly meeting of SRT trustees at Clickimin on Tuesday that the organisation had met its target of identifying £300,000 in savings that funding body Shetland Charitable Trust had asked for.
In addition, he is confident that further savings targets can be met in the next year through a package of measures which the trust will be putting before the SIC and charitable trust next month, without any significant cuts to the service it is offering.
It had been feared that job cuts would be inevitable but Mr Johnston was encouraged following a productive meeting with the council’s head of finance Graham Johnston and said he had also been working closely with the charitable trust. SRT’s eight leisure centres will, however, be closed over the Christmas and New Year period to save money.
The trust’s deadline for expressions of interest from parties to operate a catering franchise from Horizons Cafe, which closed in July, is on Friday, after which Mr Johnston hopes to open negotiations with organisations and individuals. He said there had been “some interest” to date.
Since Clickimin opened back in 1985, there have been 11.73 million admissions at the nine leisure centres around the isles with a pattern of ever-increasing numbers until recently.
Mr Johnston said it now appeared that the numbers were “hitting a plateau” with a two per cent decrease between 2007/8 and 2008/9, though figures for the first three months of 2009/10 show an across the board increase on the corresponding period last year.
* For full story, see this week’s Shetland Times.