Shetland Islands Council’s so-called “have your say” tour of the isles, giving folk the chance to put forward new cash-saving suggestions as the authority prepares for serious cutbacks, is in principle a good idea.
Many people have, of course, been banging on for years about ways of saving money, usually when the council has wasted lengthy time and effort on plans which were proposed, agreed and then discarded. Policies have been chopped and changed and consultants brought in at massive expense for no end result. The Anderson High School is a perfect case in point.
So far the consultative meetings have been fairly successful and constructive affairs, with several promising suggestions forthcoming. Those range from hiving off certain services and staff to the private sector, which by reducing top-heavy management and administration could offer a more efficient and cheaper option, to tackling astronomic fuel prices in the isles by bulk-buying and storage. The fact that one extra penny on the price of diesel adds £45,000 to the ferry services budget is a pretty distressing statistic, particularly when many crossings are made at well under full capacity.
The council has already made prudent moves in the right direction by reducing levels of senior management, something which should have been done years ago, but much work is still required. Any sensible ideas should be seriously considered, although they may well incur the wrath of the very unions who were calling for more public consultation in the first place.
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Many isles residents will benefit from the splendid new cancer support centre opened by CLAN in Aberdeen this week.
The energy of the teams which rowed to Faroe recently, as documented in Scord Views on page 19, were just the latest in what was a superb effort to help finance the building. As ever when it comes to fund-raising, Shetlanders seem to rise to the occasion.