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Submissions invited for SIC hearing

THE ACCOUNTS Commission for Scotland has issued a general invitation to the public to make written submissions to the public hearing to be held this month into Shetland Islands Council.

The hearing will take place over two days at Lerwick Town Hall in front of a panel of five Accounts Commission members, including chairman John Baillie, deputy chairman Douglas Sinclair, Christine May, Bill McQueen and Graham Sharp.

It follows a highly critical report into the council by Controller of Audit Caroline Gardner after auditors were called in to investigate events that led up to the departure of chief executive David Clark with £285,000 pay off and the fourth qualification of the SIC’s annual accounts.

SIC vice convener Josie Simpson said that he looked forward to the public hearing which he hoped would clear up many of the issues that have plagued the authority over the past few months.

The panel will hear evidence first hand from the council and other interested parties, including local government umbrella group COSLA who advised the SIC during the negotiations that culminated in Mr Clark’s departure.

Prior to appearing witnesses will be asked to make a written submission in advance. The commission also said it would also welcome written material anyone would like to submit.

They said: “All material will be considered by the commission and will help it in deciding the questions which should be put to witnesses at the hearing and in reaching its findings.

“On the basis of any written submissions, the commission may also decide to invite further people to give evidence at the hearing.”

No submissions will be accepted in confidence and no evidence will be heard in private. Further details of the likely timetable and witnesses will be announced closer to the time of the hearing.

All submissions will be published on 21 June on the Accounts Commission website at www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/ac/shetlandhearing where full details of the hearing and how to make a submission are listed.

Submissions should be as concise as possible and no more than four typed A4 pages and be sent in by 5pm on 14 June to shetland.hearing@accounts-commission.gov.uk or by post to Mark Brough, secretary and business manager, Accounts Commission, 18 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2QU.

People are invited to turn up on the day to attend and listen to the proceedings. It will start at 10 am on Monday 28 June and Tuesday 29 June, and is likely to last all day.

Afterwards the commission will consider the evidence and publish its findings as soon as possible, which could include recommendations to the council and to Scottish ministers.

The report that led to this hearing was published in mid-May and is available at http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/work/local_statutory.php

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021