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Charitable trust reform plans condemned

PROPOSALS for a revamped Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) have been condemned as “completely undemocratic” and “an insult to the public”.

Reform plans, discussed during a private seminar of the trust on Wednesday morning, envisage a charitable trust made up of seven ex officio members from Shetland Islands Council whose first job it would be to select and appoint eight “independent” trustees.

The trust is under pressure from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to remove the current 91 per cent majority of council trustees from its board.

The recommendations, worked up by the trust’s governance review group, would achieve that aim, but fall “well short of the public’s expectations”, according to some critics.

Trustee Gary Robinson said after the meeting that the charitable trust was public body and that councillors should have the faith to let the public decide.

“I strongly believe in electing all the trustees, and I also would like to see a proper public consultation done,” he said.

Another trustee, who at this stage preferred to remain anonymous, said the proposals were “outrageous” and the consequences would be worse “than what we have at present”.

The private seminar also discussed proposals to set the number of trustees necessary to make decisions to six, or 40 per cent of its members.

The current trust with 23 members has a quorum of 12, or just over 50 per cent.

SCT chairman Bill Manson did not respond to a request for interview, but the trust issued a short statement after the meeting.

It said: “Trustees have today attended a seminar to discuss recommendations from the governance review group.

“Trustees had a constructive discussion at which a number of valuable points were raised. A full set of proposals will be presented to trustees in due course.”

Shetland Charitable Trust is due to meet on 8 September to discuss and decide on its future governance.