Councillors approve £5m of building projects, including Aith road upgrade

Councillors have approved 12 new building projects costing £5 million to proceed into their capital pro­gramme for the next four years, including improvements for roads in Aith and Cullivoe. However, design work for the Gulberwick loop road upgrade has failed to make it into the spending plans because the actual roadworks are not in the capital programme.

The biggest project to make it into the construction timetable is the £2.1 million Bixter to Aith phase two road scheme which will tackle one of the worst stretches of main road in Shetland. Work should start next year.

Councillor Gary Robinson told Wednesday’s meeting of the Full Council it could not happen soon enough, having deteriorated particularly badly last winter.

The Gutcher to Cullivoe road improvement is expected to start in 2012 and cost £500,000 and is required largely due to the number of lorries using the road, which serves the busy Cullivoe pier. Councillor Robert Henderson was delighted to see the project securing its place. He said salmon worth £450,000 had gone out the road on Tuesday alone.

Councillor Cecil Smith was angry about the lack of any progress to sort out safety problems at the steep Stunken Brae in Gulberwick where last winter the school bus refused to drive due to the danger of slipping off the road. He warned that the council could face huge claims if an accident did occur there and nothing had been done to effect improvements.

Other projects which have now got their slots in the capital pro­gramme include three schools which are set to have nearly three-quarters of a million pounds spent on them. Aith needs £433,000 for works including renewing the leaking asbestos roof and replacing the fire alarm and protection system. In Baltasound the school’s anti-fire system also needs replacing at a cost of £215,000 along with ventilation and new paving while in Walls the Happyhansel primary needs £120,000 on fire protection works.

Also now with a real chance of happening are a £450,000 new bridge over Strand Loch in Ting­wall, a new £250,000 Laxaburn Bridge, near Semblister in the West Side and £414,000 to be spent on maintenance at the waste-to-energy incinerator, or as it is now called, the energy recovery plant.

In Whalsay the old Symbister breakwater is eventually to be fixed for around £150,000 and work to tackle corrosion under the Skerries Pier will cost about £100,000.

The Scalloway fish market roof may be replaced, costing £150,000 and fitting cathodic protection to the tug jetty at Sella Ness will cost £200,000.

The projects have been given slots in the capital programme after being put through the council’s new so-called gateway process which scrutinises every scheme to try to ensure that is needed and realistically deliverable.

The gateway idea was one of the changes masterminded by the deposed chief executive David Clark during his short tenure in the Town Hall. The process is intended to cure one of the ills of the local authority in being consistently unable to organise a robust capital programme for the years ahead – a failure highlighted again recently by Audit Scotland.


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