Peppercorn rents

I hear talk of a new financial agreement between Da Coonty and Da Treacle-bending Factory.

While I was serving my time at the Town Hall, very senior persons appeared to be embarrassed and eager to change the subject when I sometimes suggested that the council and the charitable trust should ask for an independent market valuation of the land at Sullom Voe.

The terminal site is owned by the trust and rented to the SIC, who sub-let it to the oil and gas companies for, if memory serves aright, about a million pounds a year, which is then handed over to the trust to spend on good works.

The council and the trust have a ‘fiduciary duty’ to get the best value they can out of the property they own on the public’s behalf. That is why, some years ago, the SIC clamped down on the peppercorn rents it used to charge favoured tenants, including many local good causes.

So why does the same principle not apply to the public’s property at Sullom Voe? What actually is a fair, commercial market rent for it?

Certainly not a paltry million a year; £20 millions would be reasonable; maybe more.  Why do our masters apparently not wish to find out? And what is the Accounts Commission doing about it?

Now that I’m retired, I suppose there’s even less chance of our leaders paying attention to anything I say, but I just thought I’d mention it.

Jonathan Wills
Bressay