The future of Promote Shetland is hanging in the balance following news Shetland Islands Council will not renew Shetland Amenity Trust’s contract, according to trust chairman Brian Gregson.
He says the decision showed the SIC does not have any intention of continuing to promote the isles and said three people would be losing their jobs as a result. One of those is understood to be manager Andy Steven, who is also acting as amenity trust general manager following the death of Jimmy Moncrieff.
The trust’s extended contract for running Promote Shetland expires at the end of this month, said Mr Gregson.
“We are still working out how we’re going to organise that. We’ve necessarily had to start the redundancy process because it affects people’s lives.”
Mr Gregson added the trust was also examining some of the “commitments” Promote Shetland had made. He said Shetland Wool Week would take place “this year” but did not give any assurances beyond that.
“There are things like wool week, for example, which is already fully booked for this year.
“We’ve actually got somebody looking specifically at that.
“Wool week will take place this year anyway, but beyond that we’ll have to see.”
He said the 60 North magazine was “up for grabs”.
“Certainly, by the end of the month we won’t have the editorial team that put that together, so that’s very much one of the questions that we are having to try to answer.”
He added: “We have been working on the basis of a decision taken by the council in September last year to continue the funding at the level which it has been and to issue another contract in January this year.
We’re disappointed for Shetland because we think it is an essential thing to develop Shetland and make it an attractive place to live and work. BRIAN GREGSON
“That was done and we bid for it. At the end of three months we heard nothing and were asked if we would consider a three month extension. That extension ends on 30th June, and in the meantime we’ve had a meeting on Monday followed by a hard copy letter yesterday saying we hadn’t been awarded the contract, and nobody else had either.”
He added: “Promoting Shetland is what the amenity trust has been doing for 30-odd years. We were delighted when eight or nine years ago the council said, ‘this is important to do, we want to promote that’.
“They drafted a contract which we won fair and square and allowed us to develop the team to run it.
“We’re disappointed for Shetland because we think it is an essential thing to develop Shetland and make it an attractive place to live and work.
“We’re disappointed by that side of it because the council apparently doesn’t have any intentions of continuing to promote Shetland, dare I say. Obviously we’re disappointed on our own behalf because we happen to think we’ve done a pretty good job since we’ve had the contract.”
• In-depth coverage in this week’s Shetland Times.