22nd June 2018
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Councillors support Black Rock’s anti-gun stance

The council is to send a message of support to stock market investor Black Rock for its decision to distance itself from firearms manufacturers in light of recent mass-shootings in America.

South Mainland councillor George Smith gained unanimous support at today’s policy and resources meeting when he called on the council to write to investors to offer encouragement over the ethical decision.

It came after Black Rock, the world’s biggest owner of global equities, told clients it was exploring ways to switch them into investment funds that screen out firearms manufacturers and retailers.

Black Rock’s decision followed an attack in Florida, during which a gunman killed 17 people – and sparked renewed debate over gun control legislation in the States.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Smith told fellow members he was glad to see the investor take a firm stand over the issue.

“In the last council we were regularly implored to look at ethical funding.

“I’m pleased to see Black Rock taking a position following the last high school shooting in America.

“I wonder if we can perhaps add our voice to give encouragement to Black Rock to continue to pursue that line of investment, because clearly guns are a dangerous thing.

“If we can do anything in our own small way to reduce the availability of guns – particularly in the United States – that would be a good thing.

“Could we write to Black Rock and give our support and encouragement?”

His comments came after the SIC’s head of finance presented a review of the council’s external investments over the last quarter.

Jonathan Belford said the council’s investments had increased in value by £14 million during the three-month period, giving them an overall value of £358 million at the end of December.

The financial markets continued to rise during January, however. And Mr Belford said the most up to date council investment value stood at £365 million.

Three fund managers take care of the council’s invesments. Baillie Gifford and Insight were both ahead of their benchmarks, while Black Rock’s investment matched the target laid down for it.

North Mainland councillor Alastair Cooper agreed £358 million “seems a lot of money”. However, he urged a word of caution and told the meeting that a lot of the money was already allocated for specific purposes.

“So many folk are saying this council is awash with money. But a lot of that £358 million is ring-fenced.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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5 comments

  1. David Spence

    There are, I believe, over 300,000,000 guns in circulation within the USA. However, the Constitution itself would have to be amended or completely taken out of the constitution where the second amendment for ‘ the right to bear arms ‘ incorporated into the Constitution in 1791, has no legal standing, I would say, today.

    The NRA in the USA, has a lot of power and influence within the politics of the USA, and it is this organisation which perpetuates the necessity for citizens to have guns and their right to have such weapons, which would have to change.

    As far as I can see, the second amendment is more to do with economics than this of the safety of the people, as this law goes well beyond the use of guns and more to do with the sale of guns, whether automatic, semi-automatic or single shot guns.

    Even the police here in the UK, have refused several times to be armed as part of their uniform, even although they have specialist trained police in fire arms if the need is there.

    A law going back over 200 years surely has no place today?

    Reply
  2. James J Paton

    I raised the issue of ethically investing the Charitable Trust oil funds whilst a Councillor and Trustee in 1988. Even my ‘so called’ socialist colleagues would not support my motion to do so, with no reason why, except being ill- informed. I had demonstrated in front of our then fund managers Rothchilds and the Trust/ Council using FT research, that our investments would bring much higher returns over the longer term (5-10+ years) by investing ethically rather than trying to ‘play’ the volatile FTSE 100, filled with unethical companies.

    So interesting that the same backward conservative thinking is being exhibited by Cllr Cooper. I worked with Alistair and much admire his fine mind. It is a pity in this area it is not being exercised. Cllr George Smith needs to pushing issue behind letter stating to Black Rock.

    Investing the whole fund in energy generation just for Shetland consumption through renewables, wind, tide and solar, not even for export to/ through SSE and Viking Energy ‘ too big’ project, would save a small fortune for Shetland and Shetlanders through its own publicly own generation company.

    Reply
  3. David Spence

    It is interesting James, that SSE (Scottish Southern Electricity) were going to, I believe, build a new power station at Rova head, just north of Lerwick, but now they are going to put a power cable from mainland Scotland to Shetland and closedown the power station here in Lerwick in 2025, and lay-off staff formerly employed at the power station.

    Whether this has anything to do with Viking Energy remains to be seen?

    I may be wrong, but I did hear, if Viking Energy was up and running, Her Majesty’s Treasury, were wanting over £300,000 a year for the cable lying on the seabed from Shetland to mainland Scotland?

    One would have to question what SSE will have to pay for a power cable lying on the seabed from mainland Scotland to Shetland, and would the people of Shetland pay through their bills for this extra cost caused be Her Majesty’s Treasury wanting their piece of the pie?

    Shetland does have the potential to tap into cleaner energy via the wind, but at what cost will this truly mean for the people of Shetland, and would they be better off?

    Reply
  4. Ian Tinkler

    Goodness me, So good to see Shetland Councilors getting involved in USA gun control. Good to see our Councillors working on our behalf. Lol. Idiots!!! How about the day job? ( Poor education, maths and science stats falling). PR posturing is a bit like Haemorrhoids, a real pain in the a@se. Keep it up smilers; you may get your picture in the paper. Educational standards falling, a bit deep for you?

    Reply
    • Christopher Johnston

      When politicians are about to make news that will displease the governed, they commonly attempt to deflect public opinion onto some issue of no importance, but upon which the public will fixate. This issue is such an attempt. Then they quietly issue the unpopular late on a Friday evening, preferrably before a holiday.
      Ian Tinkler is spot on, but neglected to mention Shetland’s White House, a farce of Council’s own making and one they would like to keep under the rug.

      Reply

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