26th May 2018
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Hearing into Shetland Islands Council will be entirely public, says commission

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The Accounts Commission’s hearing into the crisis within Shetland Islands Council will be held entirely in public, the body has confirmed.

The sessions will go ahead in Lerwick Town Hall on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th June and evidence from the council and other interested parties will be sought. It follows a report from Audit Scotland last month which was heavily critical of SIC members for their role in the turmoil which surrounded the tenure and departure of former chief executive David Clark.

The commission will be represented by a panel of five, comprising chairman John Baillie, deputy chairman Douglas Sinclair and Christine May, Bill McQueen and Graham Sharp. Once the hearings are completed, the commission will publish its findings, which could include recommendations to the council and Scottish government ministers.

It will be only the fourth time in the last 10 years that such a hearing has been held. Hearings were held into Inverclyde Council in 2000, West Dunbartonshire Council in 2006 and Aberdeen City Council in 2008.

In a statement issued today, the Accounts Commission said: “The commission wishes to hear evidence first hand from the council and other interested parties to gain a greater understanding of the situation. This hearing will be held in public. Members of the public are welcome to attend and can simply turn up on the day.

“The Commission will be asking a number of people to give evidence. The commission will ask all of those people to make a written submission in advance. The commission would also welcome written material which other interested parties may wish to submit. All material will be considered by the commission and will help it in deciding the questions which should be put to witnesses at the hearing and in reaching its findings. On the basis of any written submissions, the commission may also decide to invite further people to give evidence at the hearing.”

Written submissions are to be published on the commission’s website on 21st June and it “does not intend to accept any written material in confidence, or to take any evidence in private at the hearing”. “The commission will publish its findings as soon as possible after the hearing.”

In December last year, Mr Baillie said: “Shetland Islands Council’s accounts have been qualified for the fourth year in a row. This is serious in itself, but even more concerning given that the qualifications may be symptoms of deeper problems at the council.” For full details of arrangements for the hearing, visit www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/about/ac/shetland.php

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