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Flea calls for convener’s head

COUNCIL convener Sandy Cluness has rejected a call for him to resign after he put his name to a controversial notice of motion to be debated on Wednesday next week.

Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan said on Monday that it was unacceptable for the council leadership to support a motion that seeks to partly reverse a council decision.

Last December the SIC took the unpopular decision to close the secondary department of Scalloway junior high school and transfer its 116 pupils to Lerwick’s Anderson High School.

Last week a group of councillors, including convener Cluness, vice convener Josie Simpson and infrastructure committee chairwoman Iris Hawkins, signed a motion to delay the implementation of that decision until the new Anderson High School is built later this decade.

Mr Duncan said that “as far as he was concerned” they should all resign as it was their responsibility to stick to council decisions by demonstrating corporate leadership, an issue the council has been criticised for by local government watchdog the Accounts Commission.

The motion was ruled competent by SIC chief executive Alistair Buchan on Monday morning, after some councillors had said it should not be allowed as it was invalid on technicalities.

Mr Duncan said: “I find it extremely disappointing that a notice of motion has been lodged to try and change the Scalloway junior high school decision.

“This can do nothing but cause additional stress to parents, pupils, senior education officers and the head teacher of the Anderson High School. They certainly don’t deserve that. They have worked very hard to get the transfer completed as amicably as they can.”

Mr Cluness said on Monday afternoon that he would not resign. He said the Accounts Commission had ticked off the council for not sticking to its investment decisions, adding that there was no harm in revisiting the Scalloway school decision again.

“I was approached by Andrew Hughson and Iris Hawkins, the councillors representing that area, who were saying that there was still a great amount of anger and distress in the Scalloway community about this move, and they wanted one last opportunity to make their case to the council.

“I personally did not see any reason why they should not be allowed to do so,” he said.