Editorial: The Old Rock 30.10.09

What a difference a week makes. After all the bombast and posturing last week by senior councillors and officials surrounding the ill-advised decision to refer councillor Jonathan Wills to the Standards Commission, the tone at the Town Hall on Wednesday was much more conciliatory. Amid the mountains of innuendo and rumour, claim and counter-claim, the one truly serious issue that has stood above all during the past dreadful two months in Shetland is the fate of assistant chief executive Willie Shannon, whose job was “deleted” by chief executive David Clark in unnecessarily crass fashion in the summer.

Judging by the report he laid before councillors this week, that this was a major mistake now seems to be accepted by Mr Clark. It is unfortunate that convener Sandy Cluness could not bring himself to say so explicitly during a media briefing following the Full Council meeting. Surely Mr Shannon, whom Mr Cluness admits has done nothing wrong, is due a proper apology from the council rather than one from the convener to him as “an individual”. After all, the teachers whose views on the siting of the new high school were wrongly published as part of the Laidler review are to receive a written apology.

At least it is clear that a genuine attempt is to be made to find a way of bringing Mr Shannon back to work. Given the complete breakdown in trust on both sides that will not be easy. But a way forward must be found.

Meanwhile Mr Clark’s proposals for resolving the annual bun-fight over the isles’ huge capital programme and pushing forward with new house building, hopefully a new high school and broadband services look very positive.


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