Councillors ‘agree plan’ to safeguard Mareel after marathon discussion

Shetland Islands Council says it has agreed a plan to secure the future of cinema and music venue Mareel following a behind closed doors meeting in Lerwick Town Hall lasting over five hours.

But the local authority said it could not give any more details at present. It follows a two-month review of what went wrong during the venue’s construction after councillors agreed to provide a rescue package of up to £600,000 to Shetland Arts, which owns and operates the building, before Christmas.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, a council spokeswoman said: “Shetland Islands Council today agreed a plan to secure the future of the Mareel building as a centre for education, culture and the arts.

“Council officials will meet Shetland Arts Development Agency tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss the proposals. Because we have to discuss commercially sensitive matters it’s not possible for the council to say anything more now.”

Major Scottish legal firm Brodies Solicitors and accountancy giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers were among those brought in to conduct the council’s review.

The £12 million venue was completed more than 18 months late, sparking an acrimonious legal dispute between Shetland Arts and contractors DITT which has yet to be resolved.

Prior to Monday’s meeting, there had been suggestions that councillors may seek to attach significant conditions to the rescue package, approved to meet the council’s share of a seven-figure overspend on the original budget.


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  • ian tinkler

    • February 18th, 2013 21:19

    ON THURSDAY Shetland Islands Council’s executive committee agreed to recommend a package of £12.5 million savings for next year. Talks over Mareel’s future are to be held on Tuesday. Councillors ‘agree plan’ to safeguard Mareel after marathon discussion (£13.5 million to date, more to follow?). Is it not great to see our donkeys at work? Words fail me yet again!!!!! Well they do not actually, just unprintable.

  • george williamson

    • February 19th, 2013 8:07

    will the legion etc. get the same subsidies?

  • Laura jamieson

    • February 19th, 2013 13:54

    as most of us,could see this coming,many years ago…perhaps we can claim some consultancy fees…oops,they only pay fees to consultants that report the result that they wanted in the first place. Seriously,if they shut the bus station,and keep Mareel open..I will be doing a “sit in”

  • Cameron ferguson

    • February 19th, 2013 18:52

    I think it is good that they are trying to save this “Centre for Education” perhaps it will be a great asset to the rural junior high schools, oh no, wait, they’re trying to close all those. You could not make it up.

  • douglas young

    • February 19th, 2013 21:48

    Demolition still the cheapest option.

  • Rachel Buchan

    • February 19th, 2013 23:36

    Glad to see the council has their priorities right. Never mind the rural schools, war veterans, pensioners, and anybody else that they think doesn’t matter…..

  • Colin Hunter

    • February 20th, 2013 0:19

    Wonderfull! Protect the biggest eyesore ever built in Lerwick (Or perhaps anywhere!) and let the rural halls go to hell in a handcart! Not everybody wants to trail to Lerwick to sit in what looks like a cross between a bus garage and a nuclear waste storage facility! Why, oh why, did they have to build it there? Couldn’t they have put it up in the black hill where we couldn’t see it? At least if it had been there it could have been used as a cow byre when it goes under! It only wins one prize in my book, Prince Charlie’s “Carbuncle of the year award”!

  • Stewart Mack

    • February 20th, 2013 13:02

    This has to be the final straw- Its high time the Councillors and / or Officials responsible for this fiasco stand up and be held accountable either at the Ballot Box or with their P45. Closing Schools, loo’s, bus station, stopping pensioners meals, endangering lives through lack of gritting and all the other utter rubbish in times of austerityso the Mareel can get yet another “lifeline” is utterly deplorable. Shetland Arts Trust, dont think you escape here, to all the members involved in bringing this carbuncle, flawed business plan and all – You too should resign forthwith,. The Biggest problem here is that neither the SIC nor the Arts Trust can actually see they have done anything wrong And as long as they continue in post it will be “SNAFU” to use an old military phrase. You could not make this lot up, you really couldnt We should sell the story to the writers of Yes Prime Minister for the second series and at least give the rest of Britain a laugh

  • Tom macinytre

    • February 20th, 2013 15:34

    I am so relieved that the council has something in place to secure the future of Mareel. This is the best thing that has happened in Shetland for a while. I am a strong supporter of Mareel. Music, culture, and arts are so essential to the well being and life of Shetland for young and old alike. I wish people would stop belly-aching about it , get along there and enjoy all it has to offer.

  • ian tinkler

    • February 21st, 2013 8:54

    Mareel. This is the best thing that has happened in Shetland for a while. God help us all if this is the best thing to happen to Shetland!!

  • Kathy Greaves

    • February 21st, 2013 10:59

    When plans were being discussed for a new music and arts venue, several years ago,I was amongst the objectors as I could not see that the cost was justifiable for such a small community as ours. The idea that a suitable location could be at fort Charlotte seemed a good one, for many reasons, but of course this was rejected as not grand enough..

    Eventually, when it was built, I conceded that maybe it was not such a bad thing after all, our young people might benefit – a safe place to go to, to see films, musical events, dancing, employment for some, and so on.

    Having conceded that the design is awful: it missed the chance of having total solar roofing which could in a way mitigate the cost, it blocks the light of neighbouring houses, it is too close to the water – which is just waiting for an accident to happen – I could see that as it was there, it should be supported.

    The interior has less atmosphere than a deserted railway station in midwinter; the empty cavernous bar area upstairs was uncomfortable to sit in; drinks were expensive; where views of the water and across to Bressay could have been enjoyed, were not, as the views could only be seen if one walked up the stairs backwards. What a waste of a chance to use what the location had to offer.

    The only redeeming suggestion I can make is that it be used during the week as a pensioners lunch club, at least older folk will gain some benefit from it.

    Kathy Greaves

  • Vic Thomas

    • February 21st, 2013 19:43

    The interesting fact in all of this Mareel stuff is that when a proper music venue for Shetland was being seriously debated – mainly due to criticism of Clickimin as a music venue, the need was to achieve a music venue capable of hosting large audiences & big bands.

    Mareel is no doubt an all things to all people but it does not address the fundamental problem of a large enough stage to accommodate a sufficient audience to cover the cost of big acts.

    So if we want Tom Jones, Adelle, Susan Boyle, Norah Jones or Run Rig it will have to be Clickimin & on this issue alone Mareel fails. The inadequate bar, drab & boring architecture, wasted space & ridiculous costs are an altogether different issue.

  • Sheila Tulloch

    • February 22nd, 2013 10:41

    Vic, you forgot to mention the ‘overly’ security.(see ‘Mareel guitarist fined’ story in da paper.Incidentally, what fine did the overly bouncer get?)
    If thats how Mareel choose to run an event people won’t go, so it will never be a successful commercial venture, and the council will keep being asked to bail it out.

  • andrew shearer

    • February 22nd, 2013 19:47

    What happens to a person when they are elected to the council? I suspect that there are several factors that mitigate against any prolonged discussion and critical analysis of reports presented to them. They don’t read them properly, and simply rubber stamp these when the vote is taken. Or, they they vote according to the arguments presented in the council chamber by officials. But I suspect councillors and their officials perform they way they do because of human nature.

    Of the models for making cuts that have been proposed, including those by Parent School Councils, they naturally have overlooked one model that would ensure a more democratic and accountable approach to the cuts in all the Council Departments.

    That is for each Council Department to examine how the various jobs done in the Council offices could be done more efficiently, democratically and more accountably by frontline staff delivering the various services.

    In education for example, most of the officers in Hayfield could have their workload done by School staff, by Head Teachers, Depute Heads and Principal Teachers taking on additional collegiate responsibilities. It is not as if these employees do not what the challenges are, they do, and are best placed to devise and implement policies that would make savings to the education budget.

    This model will of course never be applied either to education or the other departments in the Council as indeed, we would then be tampering with efficiency saving much closer to home, and affecting the very policy-makers themselves.

    Councillors of course also, would find this a hard pill to swallow in their far too cosy relationship with their officials. It is much easier, less democratic and less accountable to cut at the fringes, the jobs of the faceless and less important employees in the Council.

    This Council like others before it, will continue to protect its own interests, and of course that means the salaried and expense interests of its officials and Councillors.

  • David Spence

    • February 23rd, 2013 6:10

    In all that this Government (Conservatives – Party for the privileged and rich, not for the people – take note Gary Robinson) cuts and money saving (except for those who prefer to exploit the tax payer via their expenses and other fictitious outlays) as a consequence (as we are lead to believe by the Tories (Tory – Irish Gaelic for Robber – quite apt for a party than condones any form of capitalism no matter what – lying, cheating, deceiving, exploiting, coning, ripping off, murdering, killing…but to name a few attributes associated with capitalism)) we are forgetting that much of this mess, despite being spoon fed that the previous Government borrowed too much (by the way – 71% of our £1.2 trillion debt is related to poor bank investments and property) lays at the greedy, money grabbing hands of the most corrupt, deceiving, lying system any society has allowed to persist, this of the banking system where the attributes of capitalism reign supremely. Is there a connection between the banks, war and poverty? of course there is…..and which system is responsible for more deaths, killing, murder, deprivation and misery to millions of people, even worse than religion, through out the world (remember, if the banks want to make money, quick killing (what irony) they just instigate and sustain a war (how do the fighting factions get their weapons from – via loans).

    Our society, regrettably, has been shaped and structured so that the banking system and banks have more power than any other institute. They are in a win, win situation as recent history proves by the Tax Payer having to bail out the scum of society so as they can continue to plot more wars, rob and con us and pretend they are providing a valuable service to society – the biggest lie and deceit upon our so called civilised society.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • February 24th, 2013 7:43

    I and David who was it that bailed out the greedy money grabbing, etc, etc, etc, bankers using our money? Your friends the Labour Party; and who took us to one of the most expensive wars ( in cash and lives ) on record? You got it Tony Blair and the Labour Party.

  • Chris Ash

    • February 24th, 2013 12:18

    “which system is responsible for more deaths, killing, murder, deprivation and misery to millions of people” ?


    Witness the untold tens of millions who were murdered in the ‘people paradises’ of the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Red China etc.

  • John Tulloch

    • February 24th, 2013 13:47

    According to the BBC (so it must be true!), the UK has the highest rate of cold -related deaths – 50,000 per year – of any country in Europe, including Siberia. Even the town of Yakutsk which has winter temeratures of -40C, has fewer.

    This is a damning indictment, the causes of which I don’t suppose “Auntie” realises she has contributed magnificently to with her unquestioning credulity towards “man-made global warming” and extolling the questionable virtues of renewable energy.

    The fact that Yakutsk and Siberia are in Asia, not Europe – poor old “Auntie,” she’s getting a bit dotty these days – only makes matters worse, presumably, we are also doing worse than most of Asia?

    Yet Labour and the Lib Dems are still doing their damndest to keep the “climate change” bandwagon rolling, Ed Milliband has even called for compulsory carbon capture for gas power stations from 2020 to be included in the Energy Bill currently being legislated even though the technology doesn’t yet exist and the Lib Dems want to give a French government-owned utility price guarantees on nuclear power for forty years!

    They’re all politicians so let’s get the rose-tinted spectacles off and look behind the sanctimonious protestations.


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