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Promote Shetland services extended for three months as council seeks new tenders

Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Amenity Trust (SAT) has agreed to continue running a number of Promote Shetland’s key services until a new tendering process is complete later this year.

The trust will maintain features like, its webcams, social media, digital content and the 60 North magazine on a standalone basis for the next three months.

Neither SAT nor another bidder succeeded in securing the £400,000 a year contract as Shetland Islands Council sought to focus more on attracting people to live and work in the isles, rather than on tourism.

The SIC agreed to re-tender at a meeting in June, but the amenity trust – which has run the service for eight years – saw its contract expire at the end the month and the future of some of the Promote Shetland services was unclear.

The deadline for the new tender process is 18 August and unlike the previous bidding, it will feature a presentation and an interview.

SAT trustees are set to next meet on 12 July and they are expected to examine the new tender documents before deciding whether to bid again.

There have been suggestions that the organisation, which is undergoing a major overhaul behind the scenes, may not put in another bid as it seeks to focus on other projects.

Amenity trust interim general manager Andy Steven, who led the Promote Shetland team for many years, said he wouldn’t be in a position to comment until after trustees meet and “when we’ve digested the tender to see if much has changed”.

The SIC’s director of development services Neil Grant said he stood by the decision not to give the green light to the two previous bidders.

An online petition which was launched to call on the council to reconsider its decision has attracted nearly 3,500 signatures from the public, including many living outside of Shetland who watched the webcams.

“Not awarding the tender the first time round was the correct decision to make as none of the tenders met the quality threshold,” Grant said.

“For the next five years, how Shetland promotes itself to specific target markets will be a significant factor in whether we achieve our ambition to increase the economically active population across all communities in Shetland – so we have to get it right.”