POLICE in Shetland are set to appoint a contractor to refurbish the first of the isles’ 14 properties the force own as homes for its officers.
It comes after an initial tendering process to find a contractor willing to take on the job of upgrading all local properties at a cost of about £3 million failed.
The matter was also brought up at a meeting of Shetland’s community safety and resilience board on Wednesday, with Lerwick South councillor John Fraser saying he found the £3 million price tag “staggering”.
But chief inspector Stuart Clemenson said the planned work was major, effectively gutting out the accommodation to bring it up to modern standards particularly in energy efficiency. In some instances this also includes new roofs.
He explained that no building firm, local or national, has been prepared to take on a lengthy two and half year contract with a fixed price in the current climate of spiralling costs for building materials and fuels.
Instead Police Scotland is now set to agree a contract to refurbish one property in Lerwick, and based on that experience further individual contracts will follow.
Work on the first two three-bedroom semi-detached properties in Lerwick is set to start in February next year, the area commander said.
“We now got eight companies interested in that smaller job,” he said.
“For Shetland it is moving along reasonably well; but not at the pace we had expected because we have been held up.
“All going well, we should have a contractor appointed by Christmas, and we should be able to start work on the first block of houses by February.
“The house will be brought up right to a 2032 government standard, and that involves a huge amount of insulation, new roofs and fully refurbished inside, with brand-new kitchen, bathrooms and flooring to give out officers somewhere comfortable and safe to live here in the islands.”
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At Wednesday’s community safety meeting Clemenson also said one potential idea is to demolish the housing on Market Street next to the police station, although this may have planning hurdles as the station and court buildings are B-listed.
This is despite plans being approved earlier this year to turn the two semi-detached houses into one house of multiple occupation.
Accommodation is needed for police staff visiting Shetland, and Clemenson said that extra officers will be drafted in from south for Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa in January as well as the Tall Ships Races in July.
Referring to the financial constrains all public services are under at the moment, and with more cuts to come in the next financial year, the chief inspector said the money for the refurbishment programme has been ringfenced and thus should be secure.
Clemenson added that the refurbishment programme was part of a wider initiative of bringing 54 of Police Scotland’s 98 properties the force owns across rural Scotland to modern standards.
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