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Amenity trust’s finances ‘heading in right direction’

Shetland Amenity Trust chief executive Mat Roberts. Photo: Shetland News
Shetland Amenity Trust chief executive Mat Roberts. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND Amenity Trust’s finances show that the organisation is “heading in the right direction”, according to chief executive Mat Roberts.

The cash position in real terms for the last financial year was minus £77,000 – an improvement of around £34,000 compared to 2016/17.

However, updated accounting figures provided to a meeting of the trust on Friday showed that there was an overall loss of £337,000 in 2017/18.

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A report presented by Roberts to trustees said that the “principal cause of the overall loss is a reduction in core funding that was not mirrored by a reduction in core expenditure”, with this not overcome by a redundancy drive.

Speaking after the meeting, the chief executive said the trust will be “looking again at greater detail at all our expenditure, all our income streams” as it continues to look at balancing the books.

Roberts added that the organisation is also beginning to review the cost of its vehicle fleet.

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“The accounts show that we are going in the right direction, and we have bought ourselves some thinking time to take a more considered approach to how we build a sustainable long term business model that is less dependent on very large sums of money coming in from the Shetland Charitable Trust and Shetland Islands Council,” he said.

“As we know, both of those funding bodies are under pressure, and we know that our settlement for next year will be smaller than it was for this year. So we’ve got to build those budget figures into our plan and I think probably, I wasn’t here before, but it would appear that maybe that wasn’t done before.

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“But now we know, certainly from the charitable trust, what our settlement is going to be next year, and we can cut our cloth accordingly.”

One way the trust is set to shave off some expenditure is by closing the museum in Lerwick for two days a week in the winter.

Previously the building in effect had to open its doors at certain times just to allow the Hay’s Dock Cafe, which is located inside the museum, to open.

The loss-making restaurant essentially had to “carry all those costs”.

“We’re going to look at how we shape the Hay’s Dock offering to meet the winter opening hours of the museum,” Roberts added.

Trustees also heard on Friday that the organisation will save around £17,500 per year from 2019 after aligning its electric contracts with one supplier.

However, head of operations Adam Johnson said the nationwide price hike in energy prices has amounted to an expected cost increase of £20,000 per annum.

The trust also hopes to hold interviews at the beginning of October for its head of engagement position in what is the final piece of the jigsaw as it reorganises its management team.

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