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Council / Summer holiday school caravan park idea ‘unviable’ mainly due to start-up costs

THE IDEA of offering caravan users the chance to park at Shetland’s schools during the summer holidays has been ruled out as “unviable”.

The proposal was mooted by council officers as a way of generating extra income for the local authority.

But in an update due to be given to Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee next week, the costs are said to outweigh the benefits.

It comes after a review was carried out to explore the idea.

“However, the working group which was convened to consider the proposal concluded that it was unviable – largely in terms of the start-up costs involved versus the income generated during what would be a very short season, but also due to the bureaucracy surrounding the licensing and planning permission processes, again for limited gain,” the report to councillors said.

The report also confirms that at the end of quarter one of 2023/24 the council’s children’s services department had met £665,000 of a savings target imposed at the start of the financial year.

Nearly £400,000 of vacancy savings has been identified from budgets in areas like teaching, children’s social work, early learning and childcare and sports and leisure.

A move to maximum class sizes in Shetland primaries will also save £158,000. A further report to establish the formula for schools will go in front of a future committee meeting.

However, to balance the agreed budget, £1.1 million of savings are still to be identified.

Based on the average employee cost within children’s services, a further 9.4 full-time equivalent staff members would need to be vacant for the next nine months to cover the remaining vacancy factor.

All council departments were tasked with exploring ways to find savings when the 2023/24 budget was set earlier this year.

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Stopping swimming lessons for secondary pupils will save £23,000, whilst £10,000 has been identified through reducing play area refurbishment.

A part-time steward post at the Islesburgh Community Centre in Lerwick has also been removed, saving £17,000.

Meanwhile in the Islesburgh cafe recruitment of staff continues to be a challenge, with the opening hours reduced during the first quarter of the year as a result.

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