Shetland Recreational Trust has managed to cope with a reduced budget from its funding body, the charitable trust, through a combination of extra income from the SIC for schools’ use of its leisure centres and increased charges for customers.
With accounts for the last financial year being finalised, SRT general manager James Johnston said the extra income had allowed the organisation to record a small surplus expected to be around £60,000 in 2010/11. Trustees are pleased by its performance given the economic climate, with funding cutbacks and rocketing energy prices.
Revenue at each of the eight centres was substantially higher year-on-year after the SIC agreed to pay a one-off sum of £400,000, the cost of providing physical education for pupils within SRT properties. That accounted for the bulk of an increase in revenue to £1.74 million in the last financial year, up from £1.16 million in 2009/10.
It has helped the SRT to balance the books with something to spare, despite having seen its charitable trust grant trimmed over the past three years to just over £2.5 million. Services have in the main been protected amid the cuts, though the leisure centres do now close for a fortnight over the festive period each year to save cash.
Following a meeting of trustees on Tuesday, Mr Johnston said the SRT’s overall financial position was “not hugely altered”. But the balance between the subsidy it receives and the money paid by customers has shifted “considerably”.
Trustees voiced concern last August at the possible consequences should it not be able to extract a similar payment from the SIC again this year. Losing the £400,000 sum received in 2010/11 could lead to the closure of two of the trust’s seven rural leisure centres.
SRT chairman Joe Irvine told this newspaper that negotiations were continuing with the local authority to find the “most cost-effective” charging regime for schools’ use. He is confident the impasse can be resolved in an amicable manner.
The bulk of the trust’s income from customers was through Clickimin Leisure Complex, which took in a shade under £900,000 over the 12 months. That was a rise of some £225,000 on the previous year.
All seven rural leisure centres increased their income by a similar proportion. The lowest revenue came from the trust’s centre in Unst, which took in £97,000, and the second highest figure was that of North Mainland Leisure Centre, which brought in just over £149,000.
Meanwhile, trustees have agreed to alter Clickimin’s opening hours during this summer’s Tall Ships event. The games hall will shut two hours early on Thursday 21st July and four hours early on Saturday 23rd July. It means more staff will be available for the SRT’s programme of daytime activities over the weekend, and they will then be free to join in the festivities each evening. Clickimin is hosting the Captains’ Dinner on Friday evening, when the sports hall will be open as normal.
During Tuesday’s meeting trustees were shown a film about the high level responsibility placed upon swimming pool lifeguards, focusing on the tragic death of a child in a swimming pool in 2004. Mr Irvine described it as a “fairly powerful message for what can go wrong if procedures are either not in place or not followed to the letter”. He is content that the SRT’s lifeguard training policy and procedures are up to scratch.
Trustees heard that the proportion of working hours lost to sickness fell from 4.2 per cent to 3.6 per cent last year. It means an annual average of 6.6 days were lost for each employee, comparing favourably to a national average of 7.7 days. The local government norm is 9.6 days a year; 13 per cent of SRT staff missed no working days through sickness in 2010/11.
Leisure centres will be open for two more days than normal this Christmas and New Year, making way for a two-day closure on 4th and 5th June next year to coincide with the diamond jubilee, marking the 60th year of the Queen’s reign.
Trustee Neville Martin has been promoted to vice-chairman following the recent retirement of SRT stalwart John Nicolson. Mr Martin is the manager of Lerwick’s district heating scheme, known as Shetland Heat Energy and Power (Sheap).