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Letters / The benefits of power sharing

DR WILLS’ recent proposal (Opinion: “Appointocracy” poised to take control of Shetland Charitable Trust, SN, 6 September) for the reform of Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) is entirely sensible, building well on John Scott’s previous proposal which was known to be acceptable to the charity regulator.

The basic test is that SIC councillors must ask for access to SCT funds and that the SCT should become genuinely capable of occasionally saying no. SCT needs to develop to a point that it can develop its own understanding of Shetland’s charitable needs and start to set its own agenda. More good will come of this than simply towing the town hall line.

There is certainly no need for any more than three councillors to serve as trustees but a slight increase to Jonathon’s proposed number of directly elected independents may be worth considering, as may arrangements to secure overlapping terms allowing for change and continuity. Ideally, with the observations of the McFadden commission in mind, councillors would be outnumbered by directly elected independents by a margin of five to one.

Drew Ratter, as chair of SCT, still needs to reflect on the long term benefits of power sharing and pluralism as means of improving Shetland’s ability to look to its own affairs.

These principles have improved the governance of Scotland since devolution. It is time to give the people of Shetland more control of their own affairs. This means limiting the influence of SIC councillors who have not, in recent years, been using SCT funds imaginatively for the greatest benefit of those in greatest need.

Peter Hamilton
Berlin

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