21st September 2019
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Development department on track to slash budget by 10 per cent

9 comments, , by , in News

Services run by the development committee are on track for a 10 per cent underspend if first-quarter savings made to the revenue budget continue for the rest of the financial year.

The committee heard on Monday that the projected out-turn for services within its remit stood at a £554,000 underspend, while the forecast for the capital budget is to break even.

This means the development department is meeting the “corporate priority” to “live within its means” and help the council achieve financial sustainability over the next five years. The savings had come mostly from economic development with underspends in the grants scheme and income “above budget” for the Shetland Telecom scheme, with the fibre optic project breaking even.

SIC Councillor Alastair Cooper pic 2

Alastair Cooper.

Chairman Alastair Cooper said that things ought to improve. “We should welcome enjoying the fruits of the buoyant local economy. We cannot expect that to roll on forever as changes happen with Total and Petrofac and so on,” he added.

According to figures drawn up by the finance department, economic development – the biggest heading with a £3.52 million budget – accounts for all but £10,000 of directorate savings with a 15.42 per cent underspend. Of that, £356,000 will be saved from delayed European grant schemes which require match funding. Shetland Telecom is expected to generate additional income of £140,000 from the wholesale of broadband capacity.

The European grant schemes were in a “lay year” according to development head of service Douglas Irvine, but would kick-in next year for the next six-years.

The projected saving from the “director of development” – the administrative core of the department – is only £6,000, or 0.73 per cent from its £822,000 budget, while the planning function of development would save only £4,000, or 0.33 per cent from its £1,202,000 budget.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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  1. Johan Adamson

    So savings come from reducing activity but not staff?

    • Marina Thomason

      @Johan, that would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

  2. Brian Smith

    I always find it amusing when people write to the papers recommending that other people lose their jobs. I’ve noticed that they never, ever suggest that they lose theirs.

    • Johan Adamson

      Wasnt suggesting that people lose their jobs, necessarily, but a decrease in activity doesnt seem like a real saving to me, having people sitting around waiting for development to happen in the future, when we probably could do with the development. Not all businesses are benefitting from our gas plant boom. And all these people sitting around in offices whilst front line services have been slashed seems wrong, like the next story on not enough ferry crew – so we closed the toilets but do we still have the office workers in that dept? And the ferry crew went but no publicity regarding the office staff – are they still there?

      I dont work in the public sector, and we dont have any extra staff or a decrease in activity

    • Johan Adamson

      The only way to make savings in some departments is to lose staff, that is the only cost they have

    • Gordon Harmer

      Brian you support independence and if there is a yes vote thousands will lose their jobs at Faslane, Clyde Ship Builders and civil servants but to mention a few, some of them probably in your union.
      Double standards, me thinks.

    • Johan Adamson

      There is a difference between spending less and making a saving?

  3. David Spence

    There is also the further expense, certainly very relevant with the SIC, of restructuring the SIC by moving departments or breaking them up into small departments or sections and giving those new accommodation with the vast array of property the SIC has. As well as this expense, there is also the expense, Quendale House being a prime example, of keeping existing property in good condition. I would like to see the bill for this as well as all the other properties the SIC has but is not using. I would dread to think what expenditure there has been in proposals for restructuring the council but has come to nothing at the end of the day.

    Another good example of this was the proposed plan to centralise the SIC within Hayfield and to build offices around it. This plan was rejected before it even got off the ground due to planning issues, I believe. This was after Hayfield was bought and thousands spent on converting it into offices in the mid 80’s.

  4. Ali Inkster

    So the development committee is spending less on development but made no cuts in administration, no surprise there. But just what is the point of them if they are not spending money on development. This is yet another example of the SIC tail wagging the dog. The office and administration have saved £10,000 out of a £2,000,000 budget And our councillors are not doing a damn thing about it, apart from stating that things ought to improve. You really could not make this up they are incompetent beyond belief. https://www.change.org/p/shetland-islands-council-resign


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