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In brief for 9 December 2010

AHS funding concern

CONCERN has been raised that Shetland Islands Council might not be able to fulfil its legal obligation on education due to the method the new Anderson High School is proposed to be funded.

Should the Shetland Charitable Trust invest up to £50 million in financing the new high school, schools service would have to pay around £3 million per annum in instalment from its revenue account.

In her report before councillors on the relocation of the Anderson High from The Knab to the Lower Staney Hill, head of schools, Helen Budge, said that additional financial constrains of £3 million were the “equivalent of a reduction of another 60 teachers (in addition to that already agreed by the education blueprint)”.

She warned: “At that staffing level, there would be concerns that the authority could continue to meet its legal obligations, without another fundamental review and radical reduction to the current level of provision.”

Budget cuts

Shetland Islands Council will fail to identify the almost £10 million in savings this year required to balance the book in 2010/11, councillors heard on Wednesday.

Instead, just two third, or £6.6 million, are likely to be found, mostly due to lower than estimated staffing cost.

Finance boss Graham Johnston told members that the council policy of not dipping below the £250 million threshold in reserves was not in danger though, since the local authority had a significant underspent on its capital projects.

No nukes

Shetland Islands Council has criticised the UK government’s policy of replacing the Trident nuclear weapons programme, which is estimated to cost between £60 and £100 billion over the next 40 years.

The full council unanimously agreed to support an international campaign to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide by 2020.

The SIC also welcomed the moves to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles in the US and inn Russia, and the agreements made at the recent Nuclear non-proliferation threat conference.

No meeting

A special meeting of Shetland Islands Council to determine a planning application by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd (SHETL) to build a large converter station in the Kergord valley was cancelled last minute due to a poor weather forecast, on Wednesday.

The meeting was called after the planning board had been unable earlier in November to reach a decision when three councillors declared an interest in the application.

The converter station is a vital piece in the jigsaw to connect the proposed 457 megawatt Viking Energy wind farm to the nation grid.

In their role as trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust, SIC councillors own a 45 per cent share in the venture. The only councillor who is not a trustee is Viking Energy project co-ordinator Allan Wishart.

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