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Community / Hotel staff ‘must now get the support they need’

The £6.5 million Moorfield Hotel was opened in August 2013.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart says staff at the Moorfield Hotel faced with losing their jobs “must now get the support they need”.

A total of 45 jobs are set to go at the hotel in Brae when it closes in September.

The decision to shut was made after gas plant operator Total decided to move workers from the hotel into the temporary Sella Ness accommodation facility.

It comes on top of the nearby Scatsta Airport closing by the end of the month, with over 100 direct jobs being lost between the two.

Calls have previously been made for some form of taskforce or action group to be launched to support the North Mainland of Shetland amid fears of depopulation in the area.

Depopulation fears raised as ‘perfect storm’ looms in north mainland

Wishart raised the economic uncertainty in the North Mainland to first minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month.

The MSP said this week: “This is devastating news for [hotel operator] BDL Hotels and especially for the staff and the wider North Mainland community.

“The staff must now get the support they need at this worrying time.”

Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts. Photo: Shetland News

Shetland Islands Council (SIC) leader Steven Coutts, meanwhile, said that the council was working with Skills Development Scotland through its PACE [Partnership for Action on Continued Employment] structure and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to establish what could be done to help the situation in the area.

He added: “We cannot create job opportunities overnight. There has been a  significant amount of damage done to the community as a result of job losses.

“Normally that is tackled through PACE support, led by the government, and that’s in train.”

Coutts said that despite this serious short-term set back, the long term future for Shetland is optimistic, with the council pinning much hope on the development of an energy hub which will place the isles at the centre of the “net zero” energy industry.

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SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison said that the local authority had been advising people affected by the closures of Scatsta Airport and the Moorfield Hotel to get in touch with the council.

The final flight before leaving Scatsta on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

A spokesperson for government agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise, meanwhile, said when asked what more can be done to help the area:

“We are aware of the situation in North Mainland, which will, of course, be of concern to employees facing redundancy and their families.

“Our aim is to achieve the best outcome for employees and through our work with PACE we aim to help people affected by these developments find new opportunities.

“This is another blow for the North Mainland and we will continue to work closely with our partners and other parties to explore options for the area.”

Operator of the nearby Sullom Voe Terminal EnQuest has been also been holding a consultation on all of its jobs in its North Sea operations.

It is understood that the consultation period has now ended, but no decisions have yet been made.

The oil company previously said it intended to shed over 500 positions onshore and offshore in a bid to cut costs.

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