COUNCILLORS in Shetland have refused two discretionary grants totalling £163,500 for two community halls in one of the clearest signs yet that the new look authority is determined to achieve its £15.4 millions savings target this financial year.
Councillor Allison Duncan won majority support on Wednesday when he urged fellow members to reject the applications as granting the cash would send out the wrong message.
Shetland North member Aliistair Cooper called it a “sad day” for local halls.
Sullom and Gunnister Hall had expected to receive £75,000 towards essential repairs to its roof, while volunteers running the South Nesting Hall had applied for £88,560 to upgrade their hall.
Both communities had put years of fundraising into the projects, had secured other external funding and some had even put forward some of the own money. Council officials had recommended approving both applications.
Cooper urged his colleagues to allow both grants to be made as expectations that funds were available had been raised when the SIC approved a budget for such grants back in February this year.
“We have to try to look after all the community, and we have to take the community with us. We have to be even handed. I accept that next year there will be no money for community halls.”
But a clear majority of councillors agreed with Duncan, who said approving these grant would create “public outrage” as the discretionary budget should be used for social care and education instead.
“Northmavine has five halls for less than 1,000 people. If the Sullom hall has to be closed, so be it.
“The day has come when the golden goose in longer applicable,” he said.
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