Disenfranchising the public (Billy Fox)
Bill Manson is fooling no-one when he piously urges Shetland Charitable Trust reform to comply with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s legal demands.
His championing of a proposal comprising seven councillors and eight handpicked trustees is Viking Energy expedient and in my opinion that is his main purpose in this. Let’s not forget he sits in this affair as both chairman of Viking Energy Ltd and the Shetland Charitable Trust.
In addition to this make up, how can the SCT move to a position where a quorum of just six (unelected) trustees is acceptable, where a split decision and the chairman’s casting vote could mean major investments being sanctioned by just three people?
Reform is inescapable but to disenfranchise the Shetland public in this blatant fashion is despicable. It is essential that OSCR now sees a concerted demand from the people of Shetland for, at the very least, a proposal more in line with councillor Will’s amendment – seven councillors (still too many in my view) and eight elected independent trustees.
Setting aside the divisive windfarm debate, this current proposal should be sounding alarm bells in every beneficiary of the SCT, a majority of appointed unaccountable trustees holds an uncertain future for anyone not dancing to the trusties’ tune.
Much was made of the work undertaken by the governance review group in bringing this proposal forward; I do not doubt the effort they put in. However remarks were also made that responses from the public to the consultation process had been minimal. Sustainable Shetland submitted a comprehensive response (see here) in January 2010 on behalf of its then 660 members (now 818). We did not receive one single word in reply.