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Amenity trust writes off massive Hay’s Dock debt

Hay's Dock Cafe Restaurant.

SHETLAND Amenity Trust has written off over £130,000 in historic ‘bad debt’ Hay’s Dock Cafe and Restaurant accumulated over the last decade.

The cafe, located on the top floor of the Shetland Museum and Archives, closed suddenly in November with the loss of five jobs.

The loss-making restaurant opened in 2007 through Hay’s Dock Cafe Restaurant Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shetland Amenity Trust.

Trust chief executive Mat Roberts updated trustees on Friday on the organisation’s financial performance for 2018/19 and he said a total of £132,752 in bad debt has been written off from Hay’s Dock Cafe Restaurant Ltd.

Trustees also agreed to formally wind up the company.

Roberts said after the meeting that the figure was an accumulated loss over ten years.

“It’s a trading loss on the cafe plus redundancy costs,” he explained.

“Most of that was accumulated before I arrived, so I can’t really comment on that. We closed the restaurant last year because it became apparent that we couldn’t afford for that level of loss to continue.”

Roberts said the trust was “very happy to have the place open again”, with Emma Louise’s Coffee Shop now running the cafe.

“It’s extremely busy, and most of the people come out with a smile on their face having had a fantastic cake and a cup of tea,” he added.

Meanwhile, there were redundancy costs across the trust as a whole of just over £60,000 in 2018/19.

Post-audit figures showed that the amenity trust made a £84,568 loss in 2018/19 compared to £152,446 the previous year.

There was a turnover of £3.57 million, which was a reduction on the £4.22 million of 2017/18.

The year-end overdraft was reduced from £712,988 to £630,929.

Shetland Amenity Trust embarked on a cost-cutting drive in 2017 after being threatened with losing vital funding from Shetland Charitable Trust due to overspending.

A number of jobs were lost as part of a restructuring process.

It has previously been said that the financial difficulties stemmed from “the way the trust was run in the past” in addition to commitments and projects being taken on “without enough foresight and planning for the running costs”.