Community councils fear they will not be able to afford to pay their clerks’ salaries, following a 30 per cent budget cut.
The Association of Shetland Community Councils (ASCC) is facing the reduction this financial year and expects it to have a very serious impact on all Shetland’s 18 community councils.
The cut was decided at February’s SIC budget-setting meeting. On top of this the ASCC budget has been frozen in recent years.
It is feared it will leave the community councils with barely enough money to pay their clerks’ salaries. Money which would have gone direct to the community councils will now be held in a special fund by the SIC, and applications to access it will have to be made by community councils as and when required.
Money-saving measures were proposed at Saturday’s bi-annual meeting of the ASCC, including putting the job of clerk to the ASCC out to tender.
This is provided by Voluntary Action Shetland (VAS), which has an agreement to support ASCC and all community councils with a secretariat function.
But it was pointed out that in the interests of parity, all clerks’ jobs would have to go out to tender. And in any case the ASCC clerk’s job is protected by TUPE rules about the transfer of employment.
Head of VAS Catherine Hughson warned appointing another organisation to provide the service might not be straightforward. She said: “We’ve been doing this for a lot of years so we have knowledge and experience of community councils. Anyone else would have to start from scratch.”
Chairman of Lerwick Community Council Jim Anderson suggested the ASCC should write to the SIC to ask how much it was likely to cost for the new “special projects” fund to be administered. This letter will now be sent.