The Promote Shetland contract will be re-tendered after SIC officials decided not to award it to any tenderers which included the Shetland Amenity Trust.
Members of the SIC’s development committee made the decision at a meeting this afternoon after it was moved by political leader Cecil Smith and seconded by committee chairman Alastair Cooper.
Director of development services Neil Grant stressed the discussion was “about the Promote Shetland Service” and said the “goal posts had changed” when explaining why the tenderers had not been successful.
He said the specification of the new service which had been tendered was “much less about heritage tourism” and rather about attracting people, particularly young people, to live, work and study and invest in Shetland.
“It’s a very big deal for Shetland,” said Mr Grant, adding the contract was worth £2 million over five years.
He hoped the two tenderers would again apply for the contract.
The matter was an extra item on the the committee’s agenda along with talks about an “EU engagement and Brexit sounding board” and the proposed Living Lerwick Business Improvement District Ballot.
Shetland West councillor Theo Smith did not feel it was the right way to do business given the “wad of quite important stuff” and the time available for councillors to read it.
Mr Cooper asked whether members would like a 15-minute break to read the papers, but Lerwick North councillor John Fraser wanted longer.
He said: “I want more than 10 to 15 minutes. I want a fortnight. I think this is far too important for us to digest in 10 to 15 minutes. I think we need a fortnight over it.”
However, Cecil Smith said the committee should adjourn for 15 minutes. This was seconded by Mr Cooper.
In a report presented by Mr Grant, councillors were told two tenders had previously been received. But a contract was not agreed.
“This was because none of the tenders received met the quality threshold under the applicable contract award criteria,” the report said.
It added: “Tenderers have a right to seek further information from the Council and until that process has been concluded it would be imprudent to provide further information or to discuss in public.”
The agreement with the amenity trust, which has already been extended, finishes at the end of this month.
The meeting heard that the council hopes to agree interim arrangements to ensure the shetland.org website continues,and social media posts.
“Wool Week will continue to be run by the Shetland Amenity Trust. Wool Week is not part of the proposed Promote Shetland Service scope which was tendered,” Mr Grant said.
Last week amenity trust chairman Brian Gregson said the future of Promote Shetland was hanging in the balance.
He said the decision showed the SIC did not have any intention of continuing to promote the isles and three people would be losing their jobs.
One of those is understood to be manager Andy Steven, also acting as amenity trust general manager following the death of Jimmy Moncrieff.
He said: “Wool Week takes place this year anyway, but beyond that we’ll have to see.”
The 60 North magazine was “up for grabs”, said Mr Gregson.
Last week Mr Cooper said elected members had no knowledge of the content of the bids tendered for the contract.
. More in Friday’s Shetland Times