Support COPE by shopping there, urges convener

Anyone who is distressed by the cuts to social enterprise COPE should support it by buying its products, said council convener Malcolm Bell.

The social company which operates various businesses has recently lost 20 per cent of its council funding, which will result in the closure of its town centre cafe Karibuni.

However the company still runs the Shetland Soap Company, COPE Catering, COPE Pet Supplies, COPE Trees & Shrubs and Shetland Scrapstore.

Mr Bell, who formerly worked as interim general manager of COPE made his comments at Monday’s meeting of Lerwick Community Council, of which he is a member.

He said the organisation is still generously funded. COPE will receive public funding to the tune of £430,000 in the year 2013/14 from SIC development trust, community care and Shetland Charitable Trust.

Mr Bell said he wanted to set the funding cuts in context: “You won’t find a local authority in the country that supports a social enterprise to the extent this one [SIC] does. The cuts are regrettable but the funding is still generous in comparison to that in other areas of the country.

“In Shetland over the last few decades caring has become synonymous with spending, the only way we show we care is to throw money at something. Every publicly-funded organisation is facing a squeeze and [examination of] the way it does business and COPE is no different.

“COPE is still exceptionally well-funded and supported and rightly so.”

Mr Bell said that when COPE started in 1998 the idea was that it would become “more self-funding than it currently is”. But financial pressures are now causing all organisations to look at their structures.

He said: “The best thing we can do as a community is buy their soap, shrubs and plants and recycle things. Their products are very high quality.”

He said that the idea of COPE was to train disabled people for mainstream employment but they tended to stay within the protective environment of COPE.

Member Gussie Angus said the local authority should be asked to look again at its recruitment policy for disabled people and Mr Bell said all organisations should do that.

He said: “The council has an over-riding responsibility in leading the way in the employment of disabled and disadvantaged people wherever possible.”

Chairman Jim Anderson said the public perception was that [council] funding was supporting things elsewhere.

Member Jonathan Wills took this to refer to Hay’s Dock restaurant in the new museum, which has been jokingly mentioned on this paper’s website as an alternative to Freefield.

Dr Wills insisted Hay’s Dock gets no council subsidy.


Add Your Comment
  • Damien Ristori

    • April 3rd, 2013 20:05

    Cuts have to be made, I know that too well, however the recent news that COPE Ltd closing down Karibuni Coffee Shop is a real eye opener.

    Karibuni and the other two street shops Pet Supplies and Shetland Soap Company have gone from strength to strength. Karibuni is a decade old and it seems fairly steady as far as customer usage is concerned.

    I have been met by many customers who use Karibuni daily and they have voiced their concern that if a busy place like Karibuni is closing because of cuts what’s the sense of doing so?

    Da Street really cannot afford to lose any more popular shops that are well used.

    Myself & many other folk who have used this eatery hope that perhaps the cafe can still be there but maybe under new ownership. One can always hope.

    Thank you to all past & present Karibuni staff & participents who have given the place character over the last ten years.

  • ian tinkler

    • April 3rd, 2013 22:07

    Get real people, how do we keep Mareel and Viking Energy from going belly up? Cut everything else to the bone and beyond. It must be £25 million plus to the SIC White Elephants to date and rising.!!!

  • David Spence

    • April 4th, 2013 14:00

    Ian, I calculated the last Council wasted £16.5 million on bad investments or paying compensation due to badly monitored practices. Personally speaking, this is probably the real reason why many of these cuts are happening, but we are being fogged off saying it is due to the national debt and the Tories (spit! spit! lol) having to make drastic cuts etc etc (no doubt to leave more of the Tax Payers money to the biggest crooks in Society, the Banks for future bailing outs).

    It is amazing that we are, all of us, being brain-washed into believing the previous Government borrowed too much, hence the debt…….when in actual fact 71% of the debt is due to the banks themselves and nobody else…

  • John Tulloch

    • April 4th, 2013 18:54

    There’s no doubt the SIC has wasted money in the past however if that was the only reason for the Shetland cuts, we would be suffering alone.

    The Scottish government has responded to the London Tories lead by following their example and imposing crippling cuts on local authorities and freezing the council tax and exactly the same – and worse – is happening in Strathclyde as is happening in Shetland.

    Council staff pay has been either frozen or kept well below inflation for a number of years and many staff have even had their pay downgraded to a lower scale so I think you’ll find Shetland is by no means exceptional.

    Add in to Shetland’s problems that Shetland Charitable Trust is committed to an enormous investment in a Scottish government wheeze to create a few jobs ahead of the referendum – “who cares about what happens afterward, we’ll have won so we can pick up the pieces then and get on.”

    That doesn’t imply a wind farm is a bad investment for Shetland, that is a decision that will have to be made in future when the full facts are available however it does mean that the charitable trust has no money available to help out the council before 2020 i.e.there is at least another 7 years of Micawber-esque penury to go before relief is even in sight.

    The Scottish government must be made aware of their role in the council’s difficulties.

  • george williamson

    • April 5th, 2013 8:14

    surely labour made the decision to borrow the money to bail out the banks?

  • JohnTulloch

    • April 5th, 2013 11:01

    Agreed, George, no arguments, although I’m not sure they had many options. My main problem with Labour’s actions in office is that they behaved like the past SIC councils referred to above, spending money they couldn’t afford when the economy was doing well with no thought of tomorrow, aside from which they deregulated the banks and took away most of the Bank of England’s supervisory responsibilities, splitting it three ways – a recipe for regulatory failure.

    My point here was that the current council is a prisoner of current Scottish Government policies and is “taking the heat” for disagreeable actions they are having to take, over which they have little control of whether and what.

    As far as I can tell, everything is being hit across the board and I know there will be a chorus of “whit aboot Mareel,” however what is to be gained by closing it down, hitting, among other things, quality of life and tourism.

    The Scottish Government MUST be made to understand their leading role in the SIC’s predicament and the council MUST fight hard to win control of Shetland’s waters and seabed.


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