GR Direct - Sony - Save up to £300 on selected Bravia OLED & LED TVs
Monday 27 May 2024
 11.4°C   S Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Community / Community council not bowled over by proposal to reduce rink space at Clickimin

It comes amid worries that a proposed soft play facility in Voe could be under threat if plans are progressed for similar equipment in the Clickimin

Photo © Mike Pennington (cc-by-sa/2.0)

LERWICK Community Council is to write to Shetland Recreational Trust to express concern over the prospect of Clickimin Leisure Complex’s indoor bowling area being reduced in size to make way for a soft play equipment for children.

It comes amid grave worry from the company behind plans for a soft play facility in Voe that installing larger equipment in the Clickimin would threaten the viability of their business venture.

The situation revolves around a proposal to install a soft play facility and sensory rooms in part of the indoor bowling room at the Clickimin, which would reduce the overall size of the bowling area from four rinks to three.

The indoor bowling club are not happy with the prospect of this and believe it would be better off located elsewhere.

Sarah Manson, a director of the company behind the Voe venture, said in a letter sent to the recreational trust that if the Clickimin plans came to fruition then this will “result in the loss of at least 10 much-needed full and part-time jobs we intend to create in the North Mainland”.

She said the company has spent over £100,000 of its own money so far in the Voe project, as well as putting in a “tremendous amount of time and labour”.

The Voe company claims that the proposed size of its centre – 110 square metres – needs a population slightly larger than that of Shetland to make the business sustainable in the long-term.

“This is why the Voe Centre is ideal as it is in the exact centre of the whole of the Shetland Isles,” she wrote to the recreational trust.

“With your proposed 300m2 of extra soft play in the same catchment area as us, this would make our business unviable and I would imagine that yours would need to be heavily subsidised.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News


The letter was also sent to the Lerwick and Delting community councils, and it was discussed at a meeting of the former on Monday night.

Lerwick Community Council chairman Jim Anderson said he felt discussions over commercial viability was for “someone else to comment on”.

But he said he had received representations himself from the local bowling club, and Karen Fraser successfully proposed that the community council write to the recreational trust to express concern over the reduction in rink space.

In response to the letter, Shetland Recreational Trust chief executive Steven Laidlaw told Shetland News that the future viability of the organisation will “always remain my main concern”.

He said the trust needs to look at how to best use its space across all of its facilities to achieve best value, with the soft play plan one of many on the table.

The old Olnafirth Primary School. Photo © Google 2020

“We have utilised this time, when we have been closed to the public, to assess the income and costs across each area within the trust and we are actively looking at various proposals, of which this is one of many, that increase the usage of every part of each facility,” Laidlaw said.

“We must consider the use of under-utilised buildings to make sure that each area of the business contributes financially to the trust.”

Manson said in her letter that the trust issued a survey to the public on the subject five days after their own soft play equipment arrived in Shetland, and plans for the Voe school were mentioned on social media.

On 10 October last year the trust asked for parents and carers of children up to the age of 12 for their thoughts on indoor play areas and sensory facilities.

The Clickimin already has a soft play facility next to the cafe but it is small in size.

In her letter Manson said the company behind the Voe plans was set up in March 2016, but “delays with council paperwork” saw the purchase of the old Voe school take 18 months.

They initially thought about opening a nursery, soft play centre and cafe but dropped the nursery element due to the Scottish Government offering more funded hours for school nurseries.

In June the company’s offer to buy the contents of a soft play business in Kirkintilloch was accepted, with more equipment bought in July.

Manson said in her letter that in late September the team shipped up the equipment in a container.

Last month the project secured planning permission.

The letter was also sent to leisure centre funders Shetland Charitable Trust, the council and Sport Scotland.

At Monday’s Lerwick Community Council meeting, while Anderson felt the Voe company had “legitimate concern” over their business, he questioned who else could provide competitive rink space in Shetland.

“It’s a bit vexing that Shetland Recreational Trust was set up to provide sports facilities…and they are going to lose [some of their] competition standard rinks,” the chairman said.

He wondered if losing the rink space would result in Shetland being unable to properly host bowls in any future Island Games or inter-county events.

Anderson also questioned whether it may mean the multi-purpose function of the hall, which hosts events like Up Helly Aa and the classic car show, could be impacted if rink space was lost.

The chairman also referred to plans from a Lerwick church to include soft play in a possible re-use of the vacant science block at the old Anderson High School.

Former recreational trust and Clickimin employee Gary Robinson said he wished to keep out of the debate, but added that “at one point the bowls hall was deemed to be the most under-utilised building in Lerwick”.

The recreational trust, meanwhile, runs all of Shetland’s leisure centres.

It receives more than half of its income from annual grants from Shetland Charitable Trust.

Accounts for the financial year ending March 2020 showed that the trust recorded expenditure of over £6.6 million, but its income stood at around £5 million.

Leisure centres have been closed for long periods during the pandemic, with staff furloughed, but the phased reopening of the facilities began on Monday.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.