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Trust loses £300,000 but figures improving

Shetland Amenity Trust chief executive Mat Roberts.

SHETLAND Amenity Trust’s financial situation has started to improve, according to chief executive Mat Roberts.

A board meeting heard on Friday morning that the organisation made a loss of just over £290,000 in 2017/18, an improvement of more than £130,000 on the previous year’s figures.

The charity’s bank overdraft at the year end of 2017/18 had been reduced from £758,469 (2016/17) to £712,988, he said.

Roberts told trustees that although the organisation had returned a loss, it was still solvent as it had net assets of well over £10 million.

He said: “The agreement with our bank our and funding partners is that this is a five-year turnaround.”

Shetland Amenity Trust shed around ten members of staff over the last year in an attempt to control costs and live within its means.

Meanwhile, a project group has been appointed to draw up a new strategic plan for the trust by March 2019.

Mat Roberts will be joined by trustees Richard Jones and Alison Moncrieff as well as the four new heads of departments (business services, developments, engagement and operations), which are likely to be appointed next month.

“We don’t have a strategic plan at the moment and we need one. We need to know the direction we travel,” he said.

New cost pressures however could potentially occur as the trust is seeking to find a solution to a leaking roof at the Sumburgh Head visitor centre and also its boat store at Staney Hill.

Referring to Sumburgh Head Roberts said: “The design that was put forward and agreed and accepted was one that would withstand the weather that we can expect for Sumburgh Head.

“There appears to be some doubt at the moment as to whether or not that design actually was built.

“We have to undertake further investigations to whether or not the design was implemented as drawn or whether or not is was not. At the moment I don’t know. We are in a conversation with the contractor.”

The Sumburgh Head lighthouse visitor centre opened in May 2014 following a £5.4 million refurbishment.At the time the trust expressed its delight with the workmanship of the Northern Irish contractor Corramore Construction.