Outspoken councillor Jonathan Wills today launched yet another attack on the SIC’s “truly pitiful” and “embarrassing” political leadership, saying he could see no prospect of meaningful change until the next set of elections in 2012.
In the aftermath of the damaging schism at the top of the council which began under former chief executive David Clark in mid-2009, Dr Wills earlier this summer shook hands with convener Sandy Cluness and vowed to put his differences to one side and work in the best interests of the community amid a blackening picture for public spending throughout the UK.
Dr Wills was unable to attend Wednesday’s SIC meeting at which members agreed to accept the Accounts Commission’s recommendations for getting the local authority back on track. While accepting the commission’s findings, the member for Lerwick South is angry at what he sees as its “collective defamation” of all councillors.
In a short statement, the Bressay-based councillor said: “The present political leadership is not, in my opinion, a lame duck. It is a dead duck. I regret that but it is a fact.”
Dr Wills circulated a letter to councillors last week suggesting the commission’s report “unfairly blackens the reputation of all members” and said it had been guilty of making a host of “broad-brush” criticisms. It had failed to take account of the fact that SIC spending has to be higher because of the isles’ dispersed population and wrongly accused councillors of failing to communicate with the wider community, he said.
Dr Wills wrote: “When this council, collectively and as a corporate body, is unjustly accused of offences it did not commit, and when individual members of the council are asked to accept collective blame for errors that they tried to prevent, then it is indeed the duty of the corporate body to defend itself and its members with a formal response to these calumnies.
“If it is seriously suggested that the council should meekly plead guilty to imaginary crimes, in order to appease the ignorant, careless and prejudiced people who wrote the commission’s inadequate and unprofessional report, I can only marvel at the depths to which this rudderless ship has sunk. The lack of leadership by those elected to lead us is truly pitiful and beyond parody. It is becoming embarrassing.
“Some of us intend to stand for re-election in May 2012 although I can understand why others might wish to pack it in. We have the right, meantime, to expect our reputations to be defended by the convener and vice-convener, who are paid extra money precisely because they are supposed to lead the council (and carry the can). They are not leading it. In fact they have abdicated their responsibility to protect us. Instead, we have this meaningless waffle about us all being leaders.”