Council staff told to vacate North Ness headquarters in Lerwick
Council workers based at the SIC’s North Ness premises have been told to vacate the building amid fears it could be suffering from structural problems.
The Shetland Times understands officials held high-level meetings this morning and, according to several sources, council vans have been loading items being taken from the Slap-owned property, commonly known as the White House.
In a statement Shetland Islands Council said it had been informed by Slap that structural work will have to be done within the building which will require “vacant possession”.
Arrangements are being made to decant staff and services into other properties in Lerwick.
The statement added staff had been informed of the situation, and that further information will be passed on to them by their managers as plans progress.
Existing telephone numbers will “migrate” with staff, and the council is promising to keep the public informed regarding the location of those face-to-face services provided within the building such as planning, or the cashiers’ desk.
Speaking to The Shetland Times, chief executive of Shetland Islands Council, Mark Boden, said he was unable to expand on the detail of what exactly was wrong with the building, insisting details of the faults were held by Slap.
For its part, Slap’s spokesman Paul Riddell said the organisation was opting not to expand on what the council had said in its initial statement.
“I’m not in a position to talk about what the structural work is,” Mr Boden said.
“What Slap want to do is come in and do some works for which they need the staff out of the building. We’re doing that as quickly as possible in order to let them do what they need to do as quickly as possible.”
He said there had been no indication of anything being wrong with the building until now.
“There have been the usual snagging matters, but nothing like this, no.”
He insisted there were no other buildings which could be susceptible to similar problems.
“It’s entirely related to this building.
“What’s happening now is the first department, which is finance, have moved, and we have opened our new reception in the housing department just across the car park at number six.
“As the days progress we’ll be moving the other teams into other buildings.”
Mr Boden said he did not know how many days the move would take, but insisted it would be “days rather than weeks”.
He added people had been “completelely understanding” and staff had reacted well to the problem.
In the statement released earlier, Mr Boden, said: “It is unfortunate that we are having to disrupt the public services which operate out of 8 North Ness, but it is essential that work goes ahead to remedy any faults within the property.
It is unfortunate that we are having to disrupt the public services which operate out of 8 North Ness – MARK BODEN
“This will be disruptive and inconvenient for customers and staff alike. I know that everyone will be patient as colleagues work quickly and efficiently to minimise the impact.”
The £7.3 million premises were opened in 2012 after being completed by construction firm Hunter and Morrison.
The then council chief, Alistair Buchan, said the building offered a “once in a generation” opportunity to centralise the SIC’s services and to create a more efficient and dynamic authority.
Two-hundred workers from eight SIC offices moved into the 3,000 square metre development.