The composition of Shetland Charitable Trust is in need of reform. Of that there is no doubt, and hopefully wheels will be set in motion soon to amend the trust deed to accommodate a majority of non-councillor trustees well before the next SIC elections.
Current independent trustee John Scott, who sits on the trust by virtue of being Shetland’s lord lieutenant, has revealed proposals for a new make-up which he hopes will be discussed at the next trust meeting in September.
Mr Scott suggests a board of 15 trustees – 10 of them elected by the public, three appointed by the council and two “co-opted” by the board for renewable one-year terms.
The basics of that are laudable, although quite why there should be anyone on the trust who is unelected is ambigious to say the least. There has never been a proper explanation as to why either Mr Scott or the other non-councillor trustee, the head teacher of the Anderson High School, should merit a place. Any independent expertise can surely be sought when necessary.
Perhaps a better composition would be 10 members elected independently of the council, plus seven councillors, ideally the first past the post in each ward, making a total of 17 trustees and representing the entire isles.
Whatever the outcome it is imperative that any pressure to group the charitable trust accounts with those of the SIC should be resisted at all costs. As has been sensibly pointed out elsewhere in these columns, the trust’s financial affairs have been completely transparent in over 30 years of its existence, and any moves to incorporate them with that of the council could be potentially dangerous to Shetland’s oil reserves.
Pressure to group accounts must be resisted