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Letters / Torpedoed by the LibDems

Vic Thomas’s analysis of how to fix Shetland Charitable Trust (Accountability; SN, 26/10/16) will be useful to any continuing individual or group effort, and it would indeed be helpful to see all the known connections between Viking Energy and SCT laid bare, but the campaign Democracy for Shetland’s Charitable Trust has now come to an end.

Shetland’s dominant political party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and our MSP, Tavish Scott, have for years failed to take a strong enough stand to protect Shetland’s oil money against the scheming of vested interests. Untold millions have been wasted.

It is many years since we were told “the lessons of Shetland Development Trust have been learned”.

Real accountability demands the guards are also held to account. A growing pro-reform consensus had emerged. It included Shetland Islands Council and our community councils. It was then torpedoed by Shetland’s Liberal Democrats.

It was down to Shetland Liberal Democrats, and specifically our MSP, Tavish Scott, to back our councillors and Shetland Association of Community Council in calling for separate elections for all or most trustees.

By siding with Shetland Charitable Trust over two local representative and democratically accountable bodies, Tavish and his backers have been more than negligent.

Tavish has previous form here. In 2007 he overrode the Aberdeenshire councillors who were attempting to keep Donald Trump’s golf courses at bay. Tavish wanted to show we are “open for business”. Does this include monkey business too?

It’s tough for Tavish. He is in favour of the freedom of business and the freedom of the individual and is of no use whatsoever when these collide. This creates real problems for a small community that wants to safeguard its funds and see them properly used in support of those in greatest need.

The accountability agenda has to extend to making sure our guards pay a price for their negligence when they twiddle their thumbs and choose to look the other way. Their job is to put up fences, not sit on them.

Once again vested interests are having their way with Shetland’s oil money, on Liberal Democrat turf, on their paid watch. It has been plain for over a decade that SCT needs to be made properly accountable and all Shetland’s LibDems and Tavish can manage is a plea for the fig leaf pretence of accountability a couple of councillor-trustees would provide, despite this having already been rejected by the council. At this late stage their approach is coming pretty close to collusion.

If we want to stop vested interests making merry down the line our guardians have to be held to account so that they learn to do their job right in future.

If Viking Energy goes under this winter, at an estimated cost of sixteen million pounds, our yellow Liberal pals will be partly liable.

When Tavish decides to actively support genuine accountability for Shetland’s Charitable Trust we will hear him change his tune. Until then our paid protector and his compromised local party are fair game.

Shetland’s Lib Dems must be made to live up to their collective responsibility to ensure the current and future vested interests that threaten this community are properly held in check.

Peter Hamilton