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Waste of charitable funds

Our MP Alistair Carmichael's bitter disappointment that the end may be nigh for Viking Energy (UK government consultation leaves 'dark cloud' over prospects for isles wind farms; SN, 09/11/16) could reasonably be shared more widely.

The untold millions of charitable funds "invested" in this project could instead have gone to help the estimated 400 children growing up in poverty in Shetland (Do poverty figures disguise island realities? SN, 08/11/16).

It would be interesting to know what proportion of these children lack the support of extended family in Shetland. Many are here as a consequence of an oil boom, which saw social disturbance funds being set aside for their benefit, yet they receive no targeted support.

Whilst the lifelong consequences for the individuals concerned should matter greatly, it can also be kept on mind that Shetland as a whole suffers as a result from these statistics because children raised in poverty are less likely to meet their potential and more likely to need different forms of support later on in life.

Whilst it is good to see our MSP Tavish Scott condemn the fact that the life chances of one in ten children in Shetland are blighted, would it not be more consistent were he also to press Shetland Charitable Trust to specify the point at which it will wind down Viking Energy and focus instead on the needs of children and young people in Shetland.

Tavish's criticism of the SNP government's approach to supporting schools with many disadvantaged children looks a tad opportunist regardless. There is a world of difference between a class with a dozen deprived bairns and a class with only one of two.

Is it not more bitterly disappointing that whilst money is still wasted on Viking Energy the needs of Shetland's most vulnerable are currently overlooked in the priorities, which the trust has set without first consulting the people of Shetland on who they think should benefit most from their charitable funds?

Happily for some, Viking Energy is still able to spend up to one million pounds a year of Shetland's charitable sums.

This ongoing expenditure is pre-approved and so, conveniently, is not currently open to the transparency which annual scrutiny by open-minded trustees should provide.

Presumably only a very few folk would be bitterly disappointed if Shetland Charitable Trust were to stop liberally throwing good money after bad. Haven't those same folk now been sufficiently rewarded for their enterprise?

Trust vice chair Jonathan Wills has previously said it is wrong to confuse investment with expenditure. Limiting the impact of poverty on our young is an investment.

Spending yet money to pay modern day Vikings, who have, after all, shown themselves more than capable of getting on in life, is something of waste of charitable funds. Isn't it time for the trust to redirect its expenditure and approach?

Peter Hamilton
Scalloway