Councillor urges SIC to use reserves for fixed links

Shetland Central councillor Ian Scott has questioned why the council is not drawing on its reserves to pay for fixed links.

Wednesday’s full council meeting was told that the SIC had made “limited progress” in addressing its financial situation in the last year.

Finance officer Jamie Manson said there was a “considerable challenge” now for councillors, with finances “beginning to create difficulty” in how the SIC funds future capital projects.

Councillors were told they would need to prioritise what projects they want to finance.

But Mr Scott pointed to the council’s reserve fund, said by Mr Manson to be around £430 million at the last estimate, and asked why the council was not drawing from that.

“We do have the money and the ability to spend it,” he said.

“The mistake we make is mistaking our reserve fund with our funds.

“We should be investing in fixed links, in free school meals.”

He proposed the SIC freeze council tax in the next year as well, adding: “In this day and age, with Covid, a lot of us talk about the tremendous fuel poverty in the island – we either talk about it or we do something about it.”

But council leader Steven Coutts responded that “just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should”.

Deputy leader Emma Macdonald said that anyone looking to stand for the council should read the financial report before putting their name forward.

She added the SIC had the ability to “pick what our priorities are”.


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