Debate lost the point
With reference to Saturday’s Althing debate “The charitable trust cuts are not charitable”, I still maintain that the cuts are not charitable.
It is not charitable to take from people who need help just now, in times of austerity, especially when the money in question is specifically for the use and benefit of the people of Shetland.
The pop-up thesaurus on my computer shows that other meanings of the word “charitable” are generous, giving, benevolent, altruistic, helpful, liberal, bountiful and open handed.
Cutting funding to services which benefit our old and young alike, the disadvantaged, and those who need a helping hand is not charitable nor does it come within any of these adjectives.
The question put to the audience was not “should we accept cutbacks now to ensure charity in the future”, which is what the opponents of the motion forcefully promoted, and which it seemed to me was what was voted on as “finally, trustee James Smith … powerfully reiterated Jonathan Wills’ position that cuts were charitable if they helped guarantee the trust’s future ability to give money to good causes”.
Dr Wills criticised his former fellow councillors/trustees of overspending and mismanagement in the past which is why the trust finds itself in its current position – none of the spendthrift extravagances occurred in his watch apparently.
State-of-the-art care homes and leisure centres were all built without forward planning or financing for their upkeep and maintenance, but the charitable trust is insisting that we now pay for these overspends which councillors/trustees were responsible for, by cutting or reducing financial support in real terms to some groups and services which have enhanced many lives over the years.
The legal Deed of Trust 2012 states that the fund is for charitable purposes, covering many areas of Shetlanders lives, from endowing schools and education, sports, medical services, the preservation and improvement (of Shetland) for the benefit of the community, and so on.
It further states that “no power vested in the Trustees hereunder shall be exercised in such a manner that the Trust Fund or the income thereof shall be held, paid or applied other than purposes charitable in law”.
It also states that “No act of the Trustees shall be deemed to be ultra vires by reason only that individuals or bodies who do not form part of the community may or will benefit indirectly by such act.”
I did not read anywhere that the funds from the trust can be used for speculative investments.
So why advocate cutting charitable support for many for years to come, yet actively promote a project which is apparently excluded – Viking Energy – unless it has become a charitable organisation in law; the trust certainly seems to be open-handed where payments to Viking Energy are concerned.
But then I suppose it is all down to interpretation of the wording of the Deed, which should be totally unambiguous.