Council workers are to get an extra day’s holiday next year to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee.
Shetland Islands Council’s executive committee agreed this morning to grant the day off on Tuesday 5th June despite hearing that it would cost around £375,000 in lost productivity.
Earlier this year the council was one of very few local authorities in Scotland not to grant a day off for the Royal wedding. Council leader Josie Simpson said that had made the local authority “look pretty bad”.
This time it has followed the example of nearly three-quarters of Scottish councils in declaring a holiday to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.
Members were warned that council workers’ morale could be hit if they were not allowed off while other public sector employers gave their workforce an extra holiday. Shetland Recreational Trust is declaring it a day off.
The previous day will be a public holiday with the traditional end of May bank holiday having been delayed.
Backing the extra day’s annual leave, councillor Cecil Smith said the past year had been a difficult time for staff members with major restructuring and cost-cutting. He felt that since it was now the season of goodwill the committee should grant the holiday.
Councillor Betty Fullerton said staff had made a huge effort to find savings during a very difficult time and with the axe hanging over their heads. She called on the council to recognise the achievements of the Queen. “She’s admired and respected and I would not like Shetland to be throwing that back in her face,” she said.
Only one member thought otherwise. Allison Duncan said he was “not going to be Santa Claus” to the staff, warning that the council would have to find the extra £375,000 by cutting jobs. He said it would mean “an extra 10 people having to go to the Jobcentre Plus door”.
But councillor Allan Wishart rounded on him, accusing him of making “an emotive speech which was nonsense”.
The official diamond jubilee celebrations are being turned into a whole weekend of activities in the UK, running from 2nd-5th June. The actual date of her accession to the throne was 6th February 1952 and her coronation was on 2nd June 1953.