25th September 2017

A week to rescue the trust (Jonathan Wills)

There is now just over a week left for the people of Shetland to give their views on the future of Shetland Charitable Trust. Any comments received by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) after next Thursday, 23rd February, will be ignored.

If you are happy that the trust has a permanent majority of unelected members, and probably no elected trustees at all, in perpetuity, you need do nothing.

If you believe that the £240m and more of trust assets should be restored to democratic control by an elected majority of trustees, please write to OSCR today.

The address is: OSCR – Charity Reorganisation, 2nd Floor, Quadrant House, Riverside Drive, Dundee, DD1 4NY. Or you can send an email to: info@oscr.org.uk, or you can complete the comment form in this week’s Shetland Times.

Jonathan Wills
Vice-chairman, Shetland Charitable Trust
Sundside,
Bressay.

38 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    Jonathan is 100 per cent right on this. The hi-jacking of permanent control of Shetlanders’ £240 million community wealth fund by the ruling cabal of appointed trustees must not be allowed to happen.

    For democracy to prevail all you need to do is express support for the election of trustees. It couldn’t be easier, just follow the simple instructions in Jonathan’s letter, above.

    Reply
  2. Ian Tinkler

    Rarely, do I agree with Dr. Wills, but we all must act here. Time is running short. An E-mail to 0SCR takes a few seconds only.
    Send an email to: info@oscr.org.uk

    Reply
  3. David Clark

    The Zetland County Council Act 1974 makes clear the oil funds should be used at the discretion of the council. This act of parliament has been completely ignored as the SNP establishment has sought to get control, even threatening to take direct control a few years ago. Unfortunately the trust gave into this pressure; as did SIC by agreeing to report the SCT accounts. Control of the funds by the community for the community has been eroded ever since in what has been and continues to be a shocking theft of Shetland’s wealth by stealth ever since.

    Reply
  4. Derick Tulloch

    Apart from David’s somewhat innovative fantasy connection there to a wholly non-involved political party this is the only issue I can remember that has pretty much united all shades of opinion

    OSCR won’t intervene in what is essentially a political decision as they are concerned with technical governance. This one is Shetland born and bred

    For the life of me I can’t see what the problem is with having an elected trust? Haven’t really followed the debate so perhaps some compelling reason has been given?

    Reply
    • Ian Tinkler

      SCT may not be entirely owned by the SG/SNP, yet! but do they have their SNP supporting Trustees in good numbers. Pity they blindly endorsed Viking Energy, squandering £10 million so far with tens of millions more to follow if they have their way. Now was that not all part of the SG/SNP Green lunacy renewable policy. Cover Scotland with turbines to become green powerhouse of Europe (lol). Green energy revolution from the SG/SNP at the same time extract every ounce of polluting oil from the North sea and import American Shale gas to keep Grangemouth open.

      Reply
  5. David Spence

    I may be entirely wrong, but I was under the impression the SCT, was going to use a large proportion of the funds for the Viking Energy Project?

    I would like to know if this is still the case, and on what grounds does the SCT justify putting so much money into a project which could, potentially, bankrupt the SCT?

    I also I suspect, if the project ever got off the ground, further funds going towards this massive white elephant, thus directing SCT funds to more worthy causes in boosting Shetland Business and better investment.

    As well as this, an investigation into the dealings between SCT and Viking Energy, and who, within the SCT, would have benefited, personally, as a shareholder of the VEP? No aspersions intended.

    Forgive my suspicious outlook on the SCT, but when it comes to huge amounts of money and this of business, corruption is one of the key attributes to such an relationship…….or this is what I think.

    Reply
    • Allen Fraser

      When the VE project started the SCT said it was committed to paying out £60 million up front and borrowing £350 million as half the cost of the windfarm.
      VE /SCT now do not comment on this figure, but you can easily assume that when the VE windfarm building begins these figures will at least double.

      Reply
  6. Brian & Hazel Johnson

    The Charitable Trust money is for the good of everybody in Shetland, therefore it should never be left to an un-elected quango, answerable to none to administer, this leaves it open to abuse and maladministration where,if desired, it could be used to enhance the finances of the people running the trust and their cronies through various ill-conceived and ridiculous schemes with little or no return to the majority of people in Shetland.

    Reply
  7. Johan Adamson

    I think it goes like this

    SIC received money from BP for ‘disturbance’ for the building of SVT. SIC organised this as charitable funds (SCT) in return for tax breaks and to keep it for the community. So the SIC saw it as separate funds with councillors also as Trustees.

    Auditors then said there was SIC control so the accounts should be consolidated and the SIC refused, having their own accounts qualified. They then caved in due to government pressure, and it was separated partially with fewer councillors on SCT, and then this meant two sets of audited accounts and two fees for the auditors. Now SCT wants to change again (completing the process?), and SIC are refusing to sit on SCT, so SCT would all be appointed people, (usually men in favour of VE). Therefore SIC would have lost control of all this money and Shetlanders will have even less say on what happens to the funds in the future.

    Wills is saying the Trustees should be elected, and so they should, but other members of the Board are against this. We could elect them at the same time as we elect the Councillors.

    Reply
    • David Spence

      To be honest Johan, I am very sceptical about our so-called democracy, and this of the value of our vote, if indeed it has any value?

      I also think it is very wrong for SCT to give so much money towards the VEP, especially since costs have escalated well beyond the pale, as they say.

      The £350 million Allen, mentioned, the SCT may have to borrow, who is paying the interest on such a loan? Will the VEP pay for it?

      It may be a great idea in terms of utilising a natural resource, but when reality kicks in, the picture is completely different, and not for the greater good of the islands……….I think.

      Reply
  8. Karen Angus

    Radio 4 Costing the Earth, 6th April 2016
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b075pxg8

    The Ice Link interconnector would link Iceland’s cheap and carbon free electricity from hydro and geothermal to the UK. It could provide the equivalent power of a medium sized power plant through a copper cable laid under the sea between the two countries. Crucially the power would be reliable and available when other renewable sources such as wind and solar are not. However, as Tom Heap discovers when he visits the land of fire and ice, environmental campaigners like Bjork fear that this green solution for UK homes could create a need to develop into the pristine wilderness of Iceland’s Highlands. Should we pursue our global climate goals even if it has the potential to affect untouched and fragile landscape elsewhere? Tough decisions for Iceland and for us all.

    How would this affect VE, and any potential investors?
    “Reliable and available” – sounds better.

    Reply
    • David Spence

      It would be great Karen, if such a resource of energy could be harnessed, and I am sure Iceland would benefit immensely from such a scheme, but as you know, I think, any energy system which undermines the oil and gas industry will be met with fierce opposition (in other words, backdoor dealings)……….even if it means a cleaner form of energy.

      Another disturbing fact, and will most definitely be promoted by the Brexit lot, is this of fracking, and how this Government has already given license to 5 US companies to start fracking on an exploratory basis……..one being very close to a conservation area of wildlife.

      In short, no matter how good the intentions are in getting energy from a cleaner source, the power and influence of the oil and gas industry has will always supersede those efforts…………..from a pessimistic point of view.

      Another area which nobody questions is the pollution, natural habitat destruction and the mass extinction of species, is this of Agriculture? This one industry causes more damage to the planet than transportation can ever do.

      Reply
  9. i tinkler

    “To be honest Johan, I am very sceptical about our so-called democracy, and this of the value of our vote, if indeed it has any value?”. David Spence, your negative view, is no surprise to me, now you clearly have little belief in democracy, what do you think should replace it? Now just for once, instead of banal criticism, give us an alternative to democracy.

    Reply
    • David Spence

      Well Ian, based on the Wests reaction to elections in other parts of the world, and where the West is quick to announce the ‘ election was rigged or fixed ‘, I am questioning the political process we have, and how this is very much governed by economics and the interest of the few………….USA being a prime example of this.

      As far as I am lead to believe Hilary Clinton, should have won the recent election in the USA, basing this purely on the number of votes she received………….but this was off-set by another system interfering with democratic process to such an extent it gives a different result. So, is democracy really being adhered too???

      If our political system and democracy is controlled by economics, then we really should question such a process, and whether or not the voting power of the people has any great value?

      As you may agree Ian, the very fact we can scrutinise and question the very system which governs our political system and politicians may give the impression of free speech etc etc but it can also undermine the process if economics and the very few have a greater say.

      Reply
  10. ian tinkler

    David Spence, give us your alternative to democracy. Your constant whining becomes tiresome after a time, the endless drip, drip , drip about vile Tories and wicked American Capitalism. The fact the people do vote and your narrow discredited views are given very short shift by the vast majority, would indicate the voting systems working well.

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      It is awful funny to hear Mr T. complain about the ‘constant whining’ of others.

      Reply
  11. John Tulloch

    The purpose of deciding the American presidential election by a state count was, as I understand it, the honourable one of preventing small states from being forgotten about and ignored by the government. Ultimately, they might decide to secede and split the Union.

    This however makes it possible for candidates to win without gaining the most votes across the country.

    Trump has criticised this arrangement himself and pointed out that, had the election been on a vote count as opposed to a state count, he would have organised his campaign to suit, by concentrating on the large states like California, New York and Florida and ignoring the small ones. Precisely what the system designers wished to avoid – and succeeded in avoiding.

    Reply
    • David Spence

      from what I know John, each State is broken down into Counties, and I would presume each County, just like in the UK, gives the opportunity for the population to vote for that particular County? I would presume the total number of votes from each County is added to the State, thus giving a total vote for each party in that State? I would also presume the party with the highest number of votes wins that States result?

      However, I do not think this is a fair and representing account of a the political system since there are only 2 political party’s, especially if the margins between each party is narrow and those who lost are not represented.

      I am unsure if there is any major differences, if any, between the number of peoples votes and this of the Electoral College System, and whether or not such a system is a true reflection of the voting system and Democracy?

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        David,

        You and others may consider the American voting system to be fair or unfair, that is your prerogative.

        For myself, I don’t presume to know enough about that country to have a strong view on it. I merely commented with my understanding of why the system is weighted so that small states are not ignored by big government.

        California 38,800,000
        Wyoming: 544,000

      • Bill Adams

        John,
        The basic reason for the Electoral College route to elect US Presidents is that the USA is a federal
        country, unlike the UK which is a unitary state.
        Each state in the Union has 2 Senators in the upper house of Congress plus a minimum of one in the lower house, the House of Representatives, hence at least 3 Electoral College votes.
        The 435 seats in the lower house are distributed between the 50 states according to their respective populations as determined in the most recent census, hence the number of votes each has in the Electoral College is roughly proportional to their population sizes.
        I think you will find that Americans, especially right-wing ones, are very keen on “States Rights”.

      • John Tulloch

        Bill, I would refer you to Christopher Johnston’s version of the US Electoral College (below).

        BTW, I support the idea of “states’ rights” within an overarching union i.e. a federation.

  12. Christopher Johnston

    I have been amused by the misconceptions some Shetlanders have about the USA political system. To deliver some from their ignorance, I offer what follows.
    1. The USA is a union of self-governing states, unlike the UK. It is a representative democracy, not a pure democracy which would be anarchy.
    2. The USA Constitution is written and codified, unlike the largely unwritten UK Constitution.
    3. The Electoral College process has been the only method of electing the President since our Constitution went into effect in 1789.
    4. The Electoral College process was a compromise between Congress electing the President and election by a popular vote of qualified citizens. Our Founding Fathers wisely feared career politicians, and they also recognized that a popular vote would give the more populous States advantages over the less populous States. California has almost 40 million residents while Wyoming has fewer than 600,000. The 11 most populous states have more population the other 40 states.
    5. Our Democratic Party (analogous to Labour) has whinged about their candidate Hillary Clinton being the denied the Presidency despite winning the popular vote. They never complained when her husband was elected President in 1992 despite gathering only 40% of the popular vote, All political parties know the election rules since they are unchanged for the last 228 years.

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      I was waiting for point 6: ‘This system may result in the election of a particularly dangerous idiot.’

      Reply
      • Christopher Johnston

        One other item, Brian. The US survived 8 years of President Obama’s single-minded effort to transform it into a European-style social democracy, during which he near destroyed his Democrat Party (read as Labour) at the state and local level. Mr. Obama proclaimed the 2016 presidential election as a referendum on his policies; the voters took him at his word and repudiated his policies. If the Democrats don’t rebuild themselves within four years, they will not rebuild themselves. It’s analogous to the Labour/Jeremy Corbyn situation.
        If Donald Trump’s presidency does not go well, the US will survive it and elect someone else in 2020.

      • ian tinkler

        A system that has worked for centuries, befor trump! Now as for dangerous idiots ( well token dangerous as unelectable), what about the left wing dominated union run Labor boys. Would have cost me or anyone, three pounds to get a vote, then we got Corbyn. lol!!!
        I never actually used a vote. Such a shame to see no sane opposition, just a red puppet of no hope.

    • Billy Couper

      Christopher Johnston – Note 5 – why would anyone complain about a president that won the popular vote and the college vote? Bill Clinton won the popular vote by > 5 million over the next nominee, George Bush. He also won the Electoral vote by 370 to 168.

      I do however agree with your point about the electoral rules being clear at the outset.

      Reply
      • Christopher Johnston

        Billy, my point was and is the popular vote is meaningless.
        If the USA were (condition contrary to fact) to elect the President by popular vote, then the election would be a majority vote. In 1992, there would have been a runoff between Bill Clinton and George HW Bush since neither received a majority. Bush would have won since he would have received most of Ross Perot’s 19% of the vote.

    • David Spence

      I take your points, Chris.

      However, as technology (especially in the weapons industry – emphasized more, I fear, by ‘ the right to bear arms) human rights and social rights have developed since the 1700’s, the manner and way in which politics is done now is, I think, a far cry from those bygone days.

      I may be wrong, but I hasten to say that the US Political System is designed, primarily, to suit Business, Military and the Banks. I believe it was Dwight D Eisenhower who warned the american people of ‘ the industrial military complex ‘ having greater control than democracy itself……..or the implications of.

      In today’s technology world where borders and boundaries are no longer a problem, since the end of WWII (which the USA helped Hitler tremendously after 1933) the USA, through its Foreign Policy, has expanded its influence immensely………and in many cases, not for the greater good for other countries or its people. Since 1945, the USA has been involved, directly and indirectly, in 76 conflicts around the world. None of these conflicts on its own lands.

      The policy of war and conflict is being used to support its Banking System, in short.

      Reply
      • Christopher Johnston

        The US political system was designed at the time the Constitution was written in 1789. The coalition of business, military, and banks did not exist when the Constitution was written, so your premise is disproved.

        Review the history of the British Empire and its centuries of global transgressions before you throw stones at others.

      • David Spence

        So Chris, are you implying that commercial, military and the banking system have no influence on the Constitution and what it stands for?

        I beg to differ on this, the Bush Administration were in breach of 3 of the amendments of the Constitution, as well as implicating the ‘ Patriot Act ‘, which was also in breach of the Constitution.

        Even if the Constitution was drafted up in 1789, it does not prevent it from being amended, changed and altered to suit the social and political climate of that time or today.

        I know Britain is not a beacon of light when it comes to morality, judgement and how it has ruled around the world.

        However, the political agenda of the USA over the past 120 years speaks for itself in terms of technology being used as a means of political, economic and military dominance……..regardless of what the Constitution may say.

      • John Tulloch

        David, you continue with your unending stream of vile assertions about the United States without ever, once, having provided a shred of evidence to back up your vacuous claims.

        Would you prefer that the United States had not held the Soviet Union and Communist China at bay, after 1945?

        Would you prefer that the United States leave China to bully its neighbours by militarising international waters to bolster its territorial claims in the South China Sea, breaking a UN tribunal ruling in the process?
        https://www.ft.com/content/3cdcbf42-4814-11e6-8d68-72e9211e86ab

        Would you prefer that the United States leave the EU to defend Europe’s eastern border on its own?

  13. Christopher Johnston

    @ David Spence
    US banking, commercial, and military interests have no more control over US policy than UK banking, commercial, and military interests have over UK policy. The same can be said for EU interests and EU policy.
    It is time for Shetlanders to look after their interests and not to Holyrood, Westminster, or Brussels, especially Brussels. As the Wall Street wrote today, “The EU is in trouble because it has failed for at least a decade to deliver jobs and growth. It has failed to police Europe’s burning peripheries, allowing the Continent to be overrun by refugees. It has failed to deter terror attacks or promote greater social cohesion. …It has failed to hear the voices of popular protest against these failures. EU leaders tell their voters to shut up and heed their betters. … The US should be skeptical of an EU whose leaders seem overjoyed with 1% growth and indifferent to mass youth unemployment.”

    Reply
  14. David Spence

    John and Chris

    It is not the people per se of the USA I have issues with, it is the countries political, commercial and military uses outwith the country itself I question.

    A country where it puts its own interests ahead of anything else, even if it means the murder and slaughter of innocent people (usually through US supported war and conflict)………in other counties, of course.

    Why do you not question US Foreign Policy, and the influence it has globally as well as nationally (UK)?

    Why do you not question the Tory Government, and its agenda of wishing to emulate the US in terms of its economy and putting commercial gain and profit ahead of anything else? In other words, the complete privatisation of the NHS, Education, Housing and other state run services.

    The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war…………….and there is many, many more false flag operations like this.

    Is, in your eyes, the USA exempt from any criticism?

    Reply
    • Christopher Johnston

      David, I criticise USA government every day, as is my right since I pay for it and vote. But I do not agree with your apparent belief that it is the cause of everything with which you do not agree. I urge you to focus on things that affect your life and over which you have some control, rather than jousting with windmills.
      J. Will’s letter is focused on a Shetland problem and what Shetlanders can do to solve it. Yet you and others turn it into a political diatribe against something completely irrelevant to Shetland’s problem. This diverts public attention from the problem and its solution.
      My response to you and others is intended to correct major errors in your understanding of how the USA political system works. I don’t care if you protest against my President, but it does not serve Shetland well as it diverts attention from local problems that require local attention.

      Reply
      • David Spence

        Hi Chris, I take your points onboard, and I apologise if I have caused offence in my unjust xenophobic attitude. I also apologise for digressing from the main topic.

        My main worry is our Governments agenda is purely focused on modelling the economy and state run services on a system where, or the impression of, the principle of putting monetary wealth, selfishness, greed and profits ahead of their duties in governing the country. It is this frame of mind I vehemently object too, as the consequences of such a system can, in many ways, be counter-productive than productive. In other words, a system where the very minute minority prosper at the cost of the majority. As well as this, if you look closely, such a system also brings to the fore the more negative aspects of human nature…..a jungle mentality…want for better words. This competitive element also highlights a certain necessity of control, power as well as dominance…..aptly demonstrated by the USA Foreign Policy and military might.

        I will endeavour to focus more on the subject at hand rather than spouting diatribe on whatever.

  15. Peter Hamilton

    Returning to Johan Adamson’s comment (number 9), is there any particular logic to having the election for trustees at the same time as for councillors?

    A fully elected trust, separate from the council, does not need to be elected all in one go. Half could be elected every two or three years, serving overlapping terms, but separate from the council elections, maximising candidates for both.

    New arrangements should secure progress to democracy, sufficient continuity and change. We need to avoid having everyone who understands how things work from being flushed away in one go – tempting though this may seem. There needs to be a fixed length of time trustees can serve before having to take a break as there needs to be enough vacancies for new folk to join.

    The cost of postal ballots using the electoral role for the Scottish Parliament will seem affordable when compared to the amount of cash that has been wasted on legal advice by those who want to delay the inevitable layoffs and the embarrassment that will follow Viking Energy’s financial dealings finally coming to light. Perhaps that is what our so-called Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott means by his “reservations about democracy”…

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      It was just so that we don’t have to go to the ballot box too often, we have been there a lot lately, and it would make it easier for folk. But yes, postal or on line ballot if it will work (although you would need more than 450 to get out and vote) and yes you would not need a complete change of Trustees at each election, just like we don’t get a total change of all councillors and wouldn’t want that any way. Should they be limited in the time they can serve? Councillors are not.

      Reply
  16. Peter Hamilton

    If Shetland had no experience of folk representing vested interests dominating trusts there would be no need to limit the length of time someone could spend on a trust. Doing so helps stop cabals thwarting democracy and increases the number of folk that stand. Ideally free training would be provided for anyone considerng standing. The more folk that understand the running of SCT the better.

    Reply

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.