Councillors move 3G pitch project to next stage despite reservations

Councillors have agreed to progress plans for a synthetic 3G pitch in Lerwick – despite several members raising strong concerns.

The pitch, which will be capable of being used for football and rugby all-year round, would replace the current Clickimin North surface.

A full council meeting on Wednesday morning heard the project will cost £1.2 million, with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) willing to put in the majority of the funding.

The SIC is being asked to put in £350,000.

Councillors committed to moving the business case on to the external funding stage, but only after a lengthy debate and a vote.

Members heard Shetland Recreational Trust felt they had not been meaningfully involved in the discussions about the new pitch, with some concerns it may take people away from its indoor 60:40 facility.

There were also reservations about the long-term running and maintenance of the pitch, the figures about how often it would be used and its environmental impact.

“Where is the money going to come from?” Councillor Ian Scott asked.

And Arwed Wenger said there were other projects which were “more essential for Shetland” which they were struggling to finance.

But councillors Allison Duncan and Stephen Leask – both former football referees – urged the SIC to push ahead with the plans.

Mr Leask said the council would be “incredibly remiss” not to move forward with the project given the SFA were willing to pay for most of it.

Councillor Dennis Leask agreed, saying it would be “ludicrous” to turn down an external grant of over £800,000.

And Mr Duncan added: “For goodness’ sake, let’s see this development going ahead.”

He said Shetland’s youngsters had been “neglected somewhat” in the past.

Mr Wenger made a motion for the SIC to refuse the plans, but was out-voted by 17 votes to two.

The business case will move forward to secure external funding, with a further report to come before councillors in future to decide where their £350k will be allocated from.


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