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Bridge questions

LERWICK South SIC member Jonathan Wills has tabled a series of 16 questions to council leader Josie Simpson and chief executive Alistair Buchan regarding the loss of more than £7 million on the Bressay bridge project.

Dr Wills is not happy with the council assigning corporate responsibility for the loss of money and is seeking answers for the 21 March meeting of the full council.

He said: “My intention in asking these questions is to establish the facts and thus make it clear where responsibility for this matter lies and (of equal importance) where it does not. I suggest this is in the interests of everyone concerned.

“For obvious legal reasons, some of the questions could not be answered before the settlement of the action brought by the port authority, so this is our first opportunity to set the record straight, as it were, and explain to the public (and the auditors) exactly what happened and why.”

The questions are:

  1. In 2005, who wrote the necessary report to the office of the then Chief Executive, stating the reasons why it was considered essential to seek an interim interdict in the Court of Session?

  2. Was the council’s Legal Services section involved in the writing of the report, or consulted about its contents before it was submitted to the Chief Executive’s office?

  3. Please provide a copy of this report.

  4. Will you make arrangements for the SIC Audit & Standards Committee to see all relevant papers and correspondence?

  5. Why did council officers not seek authority for the legal action from a meeting of the council or of a council committee?

  6. What comments, if any, did the Monitoring Officer make on the report to the Chief Executive?

  7. What did the Legal Services staff advise the Chief Executive (or Depute Chief Executive) to do about the report?

  8. Was the Chief Executive on leave, or out of Shetland on business at the time when the report was written and presented? Or was he in his Town Hall office? If not, who was deputising for him?

  9. If the Chief Executive was not personally in charge, was he nonetheless contacted and informed of the situation?

  10. Can you confirm that SIC Legal Services staff made the first contact with the external legal advisers and thereafter instructed them on behalf of the council?

  11. Who were the external legal advisers in this matter? What was their advice?

  12. Please provide a copy of this advice.

  13. What was the Head of Legal Services’ comment, if any, on the advice from the external legal advisers?

  14. Who made the final decision to apply for interim interdict?

  15. What was the role of the Convener in the matter?

  16. Did the Convener urge the Chief Executive (or Depute Chief Executive) to proceed with the application to the court or did he counsel caution?

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