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In brief for 26 May 2011

SIC reserves down

 COUNCIL spending has outweighed gains made by its fund managers allowing its external investments to fall by £8 million over the past year.

Councillors heard on Thursday that despite a £23 million return on the stock market, the council had drawn an extra £31 million to spend on services and capital projects.

The SIC is currently trying to rein in expenditure as it faces up to “massive financial challenges” forecast by chief executive Alistair Buchan, who is leading an efficiency drive resulting in job losses and service cuts.

Meanwhile the council’s pension fund is in robust health, standing at £251 million after a rise of £29 million from a combination of investments and pension contributions outweighing payments to former employees.

College inspection

SHETLAND College is to remain under the watchful eye of education inspectors for another year after they delivered a generally positive report following a visit in March.

Inspectors gave overall approval for the direction the college is moving in, especially its healthy relationship with the local community and its response to local needs, as well as its range of programmes.

However attainment rates were not as high as they would have liked amongst full time learners and methods of evaluation could be improved, both of which are among the targets the HMIe has set the college for its next visit in 2012.

Fish farms behaving

MARINE planners at Shetland Islands Council have praised the local aquaculture industry for their “positive and co-operative” approach to complying with regulations.

SIC coastal zone manager Martin Holmes said they had just completed their latest round of monitoring the 236 aquaculture sites around Shetland, of which 195 are active.

Mr Holmes said that the number of active mussel farms now exceeds the number of active fin fish farms by 90 to 105.

He said: “We were pleased to find that the number of non-compliance issues relating to equipment and lighting has dropped significantly, from 43 in September 2010 to just 16 in May this year.

“This is a clear indication of the efforts that industry has put into its operational practices and the benefits of having a regular monitoring regime for aquaculture sites in Shetland.”

Witnesses sought

POLICE are looking for witnesses after a disturbance was reported to have taken place inside a taxi at 9.30pm outside the rear reception of the Shetland Hotel.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Lerwick police station on 01595 692110

Scam emails

POLICE are warning people to beware of scam emails purporting to be friends or family needing urgent help after being mugged abroad, after several such messages were received in the islands.

Police said the email recipient is requested to wire a substantial amount of money via a money transfer agent, enabling the suspect to collect this money from any branch in the world, so long as they have the transaction number.

There is often a minor alteration to the email address portraying to be from a genuine organisation or bank, they said.

People are being urged to contact trading standards or the police if they have any suspicions.

Physio award

NHS SHETLAND has awarded its annual quality award to its physiotherapy department for work that saw the board recognised as one of Scotland’s best for assessing lower back pain.

The department carried out a review of its documentation of outpatients with musculoskeletal problems that won it the £500 award.

 

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