Transport / Will some footpath funding need to be handed back?

THERE is a danger that some government funding for new footpaths in Shetland could end up needing to be handed back due to a lack of time to complete the projects.

That was the warning from Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) environment and transport committee chair Moraig Lyall, who said it appeared there was a “tangle of bureaucracy” around SIC decision-making.

Earlier this month it was announced that around £240,000 had been awarded by the Scottish Government for new footpaths in Unst, Brae, Lerwick, Whalsay and Gulberwick.

Shetland Central councillor Moraig Lyall. Photo: Shetland News

But at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday Lyall highlighted that the funding needs to be used within this financial year.

She said the council has spent time developing an active travel strategy – which then was followed by an active travel plan.

From that, Lyall said, came active travel audits of communities.


But the Shetland Central councillor said SIC officers now have to come back to elected members to get permission to spend the funding.

With the summer months coming up Lyall said the next chance for this sign-off could be September.

She said as a result getting all of the footpath projects being completed by the end of the financial year was “under threat”.

Lyall said she would like to see a much more streamlined decision-making process so that when funding is awarded, the council is ready to progress.

However, council convener Andrea Manson said she was happy to see if a special meeting – if requested – could be called during the summer break to allow officers to get approval.

The discussion came as elected members approved the scope of a forthcoming review of SIC governance arrangements.

This programme has been designed to “reduce bureaucracy and to streamline decision-making processes”.

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