23rd November 2017

Amenity Trust’s new chairwoman accepts role with ‘trepidation’

A new chairwoman appointed to steer the Shetland Amenity Trust through perhaps its most challenging period to date has accepted the role with “fear and trepidation”.

Ruth Mackenzie made the comments after she was elected uncontested at the trust’s annual general meeting on Wednesday – where only five trustees were in attendance.

Ms Mackenzie’s appointment comes just weeks after the trust announced potential job losses in an effort to cut its financial deficit by £200,000 in this financial year. If cuts are not made the trust risks losing the support of funders.

At the same meeting the then acting chairman George Sutherland stood down from the role which he has held since replacing Brian Gregson, who resigned his position last month for health reasons.

Trustee and former councillor Frank Robertson then thanked Capt. Sutherland for taking charge at “a difficult time” and for “handling [the challenging period] as a shipmaster would”.

Capt. Sutherland, who could not be re-elected to the position of chairman at the end of his term, was instead elected as vice chairman, a move which Ms Mackenzie said would provide “continuity”.

George Sutherland expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to Amenity Trust staff as he vacated chairman role

Before vacating the chairman’s seat Capt. Sutherland gave his “heartfelt thanks” to the trustees, interim general manager Andy Steven and all the other people who had been involved in the trust.

He said that he felt the trust was “actually in a position where we can move forward fairly confidently” but later suggested that trustees should elect two vice chairmen for the coming year in order to share a demanding workload.

“In view of what I see as the workload going forward for the next financial year I think we should actually appoint two vice chairmen”, he said.

Alastair Hamilton, who had earlier been thanked by Capt. Sutherland for his “invaluable guidance”, was elected unopposed to the second vice chairman role.

Trustee Eddie Knight stood down at the meeting whilst two new trustees – Linda Riddell and Pauline Megson – were appointed to the board subject to an interview process.

However, the organisation still remains short of its full complement and continues to encourage people to put themselves forward for a position on the trust.

Speaking after Wednesday’s meeting Ms Mackenzie said: “I think, like a lot of people, I have a great love for Shetland and I think a lot of people don’t understand the work the amenity trust does to protect that.

“I’d like to use the opportunity to say if anyone with the skills that we need would like to join us we would be delighted invite them on board.”

She added: “Obviously we’re at a crossroads and a difficult time, Jimmy Moncrieff left a fantastic heritage in Shetland and it would be great to think that people would like to help protect that going forward.”

Ms Mackenzie also praised the trust’s “tremendous staff”, and expressed sympathy with them during a “difficult period”.

About Keegan Murray

Reporter for The Shetland Times. Interested in politics, literature and music. Born and bred Shetlander. Long suffering Newcastle United supporter.

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4 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    There’s a couple of things I don’t understand about this, as reported:

    1. From the article: “Capt. Sutherland, who could not be re-elected to the position of chairman at the end of his term, was instead elected as vice chairman”? Eh, come again?

    My understanding was that he was never the chairman, he was the vice chairman who was acting chairman for a month after Mr Gregson stepped down? So it’s true, he couldn’t be “re-elected”, as he hadn’t yet been “elected”?

    2. My entire experience of committees is that the role of vice chairman is a sought-after one because it affords considerable kudos without actually having to do anything. It follows that organisations are never short of a vice chairman – and here we have two, to share the workload 🙂 ?

    This part, I do understand, perfectly – when the music stopped, there was no stampede to seize the chair.

    Reply
  2. David Spence

    I fear, because of Brex*hit (basically the Tories wanting a Trade Deal with the USA without the EU getting involved and to justify the mass privatisation of most government services and duties of care to US companies where they, the Tories, will be share-holders of such companies) things for the Amenity Trust’s future, like many other things which will be affected, will become much, much harder to justify its existence.

    Bre*hit will not only cripple the Amenity Trust, it will also affect much of the funding it used to get. Bre*hit will also have a massive impact on other organisations which may depend on Council Funding.

    As Local Authority Services are affecting by this Tory government’s agenda of privatising everything, the affect on small and island communities will hit much harder than larger populated area’s around the country. This impact will seriously undermine what the Council can and cannot do for the islands, and this will lead, I suspect, a depopulation of the islands.

    Bre*hit is nothing but a distraction from what this government really……….and like most Tories, they do not give a damn how their action affect people (unless you are one of their rich buddies).

    Reply
    • Michael Garriock

      Interesting witch hunt, David Spence. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t SIC funding a remit of the Scottish Government? Additionally, isn’t the SAT’s other significant financier the SCT? Who are cutting back on everything so that they’re in an improved position to pour as much as possible in to that bottomless pit, pie-in-the-sky (literally) folly that is VE.

      So, where, and how, exactly, is it the Tories’ and Brexit’s fault that the SAT are suffering cashflow issues?

      Reply
      • David Spence

        Well Michael, I am basing my view on the possibility that Brex*hit and Tories wanting a trade deal with the USA. If it is successful, this Tory Government will reduce funding to Local Authorities, as more and more LA services are privatised, thus LA’s forced to make drastic cuts, thus affecting organisations which may depend, partly, on LA funding, thus their future is uncertain………all under the umbrella of austerity cuts.

        I agree Michael, in the VE carry-on, and the SCT, as it looks, investing in this project which could drastically affect the SCT future performance, not to mention funding? One minute the Tories stop giving subsidies to wind energy projects, the next they are offering financial help……it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where this government stands on such an issue.

        All I am saying Michael, as I see it, Brex*hit, will have an affect on the Council, which will have an affect on future funding of the SCT, The Amenity Trust and other organisations dependent on SIC as well as European Funding.

        As for the Scottish Government, lets see how Brex*hit affects Scotland, LA Funding and other related issues.

        I am more pessimistic than optimistic, lets say.

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