Harbour board to discuss privatisation of tug and pilotage operations

Shetland Islands Council’s tug and pilotage operations could be sold off to a private company under one of the most radical cost-cutting ideas being put before councillors today.

Meeting this afternoon the harbour board will consider a range of 11 options for change which it might wish to pursue for its harbour operations including privatisation, conversion of the port of Sullom Voe and perhaps Scalloway to trust port status – which Lerwick Port Authority has – or perhaps creating a company to put port operations at arm’s length from council affairs.

Members will consider the various scenarios as well as the option of maintaining the status quo. No major decisions are expected from today’s discussions which are part of the long-running Ports for the Future project looking at how to save money through being more efficient and changing the way harbour operations work.

Port operations and the 122 staff they employ are set to cost the council nearly £15 million this year plus £6.9 million spent on capital projects including the last instalment for buying the new tugs, major dredging works in Scalloway harbour and building a new Walls pier. Its various operations are expected to earn £16.3 million in return.


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