I was intrigued by your report that Lord Lieutenant Bobby Hunter, chairman of Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT), is unaware of the SIC’s anger about the trust’s care home cuts (SCT breaching care home deal, say SIC leader; SN, 14/12/2015).
This is surprising, given that he should have received one of the letters sent direct to individual trustees by SIC political leader Gary Robinson. One presumes he has, Nelson-like, turned his “deaf ear” to this vote of no confidence in the trust’s management and said “I hear no row”?
Well, I can hear it, sitting in Argyll! It seems the council – who sealed the original deal to receive the disturbance agreement money and set up the charitable trust to invest it efficiently – has, by a series of regulatory manoeuvres, been cornered into relinquishing control to the extent that councillors now have to leave the room during discussions on funding for any activity in which the SIC has an interest e.g. care homes.
This resulted from Audit Scotland having been called in by then Sustainable Shetland chairman Billy Fox to investigate a complaint about councillors’ “conflict of interest”.
Sadly, that merely opened the door for those so inclined, the pro-Viking Energy cabal, to install the current, deeply unsatisfactory structure of the trust, thus ridding themselves of the inconvenience of public accountability at the ballot box.
Given the well-documented shenanigans when the SIC – disastrously – backed the Viking Energy project and railroaded it through the charitable trust under the auspices of councillors Bill Manson and Drew Ratter, both chairmen of the trust and Viking Energy – Manson chairing both at the same time! – and Allan Wishart who, as well as being a councilor trustee was the highly paid manager of Viking Energy, we might well say “Weel hit’s da bloddy price o dem!”
But we’d be wrong. It has played straight into the hands of the Viking Energy proponents and the Scottish government with its desire to export the dirty laundry of its renewable energy policy to anywhere it can be shoehorned into.
While it is current Wir Shetland policy to remain neutral on the project itself and simply call for a referendum there can be no doubt that the past actions of the SIC and the charitable trust have brought the entire project into disrepute.
Examples of mismanagement by Shetland’s existing governmental authorities abound however it’s hard to think of a more spectacular one than this debacle over control of the charitable trust.
Shetland needs self-governing autonomy with full public accountability for all such issues and needs it now.