I am reluctant to enter into a public back and forth with my fellow councillor Ian Scott but I have been unable to resist responding to some of the sweeping statements he has made in his recent letter (Call is what it is: poverty; Shetland News, 20 September 2021).
Firstly, unless Mr Scott has access to some secret mechanism whereby he can track the voting habits of his fellow councillors for the last ten plus years, it is staggeringly arrogant to think he knows how each councillor has voted in numerous elections. Many of these votes took place before he had even met said group of individuals.
It is also worth noting, we can’t know how individuals vote but we do know how the electorate of Shetland has voted. Is Mr Scott saying that the majority of his constituents voted for austerity so that’s what they deserve? Or is that assertion reserved for councillors?
I also fail to see in any way how any of us can be accused of thinking child poverty as “convenient”. Nor in my time on the council have I ever been asked to “conveniently ignore the vast swathes of adults enduring privation and austerity”.
If Mr Scott finds this all “wryly amusing”, I expect I am not the only councillor to be frustrated at his downright failure to understand or accept the cold hard facts explained to him repeatedly by successive directors of finance regarding how the SIC reserves and investments work.
Peddling the myth that the SIC is sitting on massive sums of money and not spending it is doing a disservice to the people who elected him.
There is a large gap between funding received from central government and how much it costs to provide services in Shetland. That gap is plugged mainly from income from the harbour account and return on the investments previously funded from the same account.
In a nutshell, the reserves are spent every single day on the services which every Shetlander benefits from. That does not sound like austerity to me.
Being in an unsustainable position means spending more from the reserves than can be made up by the investment returns, meaning you have less income in future years. The longer this goes on, the quicker the reserves dwindle to zero.
To see the above financial facts compared to a phrase coined by Adolf Hitler, and referencing the events that led to the Holocaust, as in any way comparable to the budgetary actions of the council is not only absurd but is utterly disgraceful.
I find it disappointing to see a colleague bizarrely deriding others for speaking out against any form of poverty, for some unfathomable purpose only known to himself.
Or, perhaps, the last line of his letter referencing the upcoming election may give readers some insight into the thinking behind this ridiculous letter.
Councillor for the North Isles