More discussion should take place before projects find their way onto the council’s capital programme, according to Shetland North councillor Alastair Cooper.
Speaking at the full council meeting on Wednesday, Mr Cooper said that some of the projects – there were 51 jobs on the list presented to councillors – were not necessarily what communities wanted. Some work could be done at a later date, such as cathodic protection of piers, and only projects that were essential should go ahead.
He said there needed to be “strategic discussion about what’s in and what’s out”, as the programme as it stood reflected the “ambition of committees”. If he wanted, for example, Toft pier to be on the list, something would have to be taken out.
Council leader Gary Robinson said the 51 projects were only listed for approval in principle, and were subject to funding. They would be prioritised over a five year period, and to a large extent were about maintenance – the council had assets worth £400 million to maintain.
The 51 projects, comprising anything from replacement of photocopiers to roadworks and street lighting, had all been considered by the council’s corporate management team based on “service need case” reports. Of these, 19 were already provisionally in the asset investment plan 2015-20, with the remaining 32 being new schemes.
Mr Robinson moved that all the 51 projects should be scheduled into any future asset investment plan, subject to funding. In total these projects would cost the council just under £42 million over five years.
However, Mr Cooper put forward an amendment that more discussion should take place, and won the vote with 16 supporting him, against four for Mr Robinson.
Mr Robinson said: “There is nothing in the amendment not covered in this report. It would be foolish to think we can ignore maintenance – [the list] does not exclude other projects.”
Councillor Michael Stout queried why 25 per cent of the projects seeking approval were retrospective.
Approval was given for three specific projects, one of which, at Leaside in Firth, was a retrospective application to convert two semi-detached houses at 24 and 25 Leaside into four flats. Funding of £100,000 had already been budgeted for.
The other schemes were at Scalloway Fishmarket, where the refrigeration and doors maintenance works were essential to keep the place operational (funded from £180,000 income from the accommodation barge and vessel in Scalloway Harbour), and the Walls pier crane, which urgently needs to be replaced.
These projects would start immediately.