Duncan unhappy at ‘leak’ on purchase of residential building

A councillor is calling on the SIC to put robust procedures in place to prevent confidential information being leaked into the public domain.

Allison Duncan is calling for a report to “see if there’s a weakness in the system” after a letter to the local media from Lerwick South member Jonathan Wills earlier this month disclosed that the council was looking to buy a residential property in the town for £200,000. The matter had been discussed and approved by councillors behind closed doors.

Once the price in any such deal became public knowledge, Mr Dun­can said, there was no chance the property could be bought for any less – meaning the disclosure risked costing the public purse. “If no price is mentioned it’s market forces and negotiations to prevail,” he told this newspaper. “In this particular case the price could have maybe been £100,000, not £200,000.”

He continued: “Let’s get a report from our professional people, to make it more robust and more clear so that confidentiality can be respected and accepted in future.”

Speaking during today’s audit and standards committee meet­ing, Mr Duncan said there also seemed to have been a “breach of conduct” which, though he was “not going to mention any names”, seemed to refer to Dr Wills’ recent use of a mock Nazi salute towards SIC political leader Josie Simpson.

Dr Wills chose not to move against Mr Duncan’s call for a report on how council meetings are conducted. He said only that if anyone was unhappy and believed there had been a breach of the councillors’ code of conduct, they were free to take the matter to the Standards Commission, the body committed to ensuring high ethical standards in public life.

He said he remained unhappy at the way meetings were being run since the SIC introduced new regu­lations, saying the changes did not overwrite the way democratic debate, “established for more than 100 years”, was conducted. Dr Wills vowed to continue opposing any councillor who chose to chair meetings in a “dictatorial” man­ner.


Add Your Comment
  • Jonathan Wills

    • August 11th, 2011 19:17

    My old pal Da Flea has worked himself up into a terrible state most unncessarily. He’s assumed that I told the press the council was proposing to buy a residential property in town. In fact I deliberately did not identify the property, nor even its general location, for precisely the reasons that concern him. A pity he didn’t check his facts before joining the posse. The leak of the property’s address came from another source, because the reporter I spoke to knew it already and asked me to confirm it, which I declined to do.

    The public may also like to know that, at the secret meeting where this was discussed, a motion by another councillor, to restrict the use of the property to housing only, was defeated by 11 votes to three. So it remains open to use it (if purchased and wherever it may be) as a consultants’ bunkhouse, which was what the report to the council envisaged. Watch this space.

    Councillor Jonathan Wills

  • Iain Adam

    • August 11th, 2011 20:30

    What about democracy, do the ratepayers have no say ? Secrets, closed doors – what a joke. get real Allison, this is 2011, I thought the ‘wee meetings’ went overboard many years ago. Progress !

  • Ali Inkster

    • August 11th, 2011 21:04

    Just buy the hoose through a lawyer and the seller will have no idea or care who the buyer is and the damn thing will sell for market value. That is if you make a reasonable offer and not over inflate it, after all it’s not your money.
    This council can’t help but make more problems for the rest of us through petty bickering, and I feel sorry for the Orkney man as he has no hope of sorting out the mess at the Hillhead as long as the incumbents are sitting in the council chamber

  • Sandy McMillan

    • August 12th, 2011 0:24

    The Council should discuss nothing behind closed door, we the public of Shetland have a right to know what goes on, Councillors should not forget they are democratily voted in to run the affaires of the Shetland electorate, this making decisions behind closed doors should not be, Councillors are turning more like the SS, or the like, we have a democratic right to know what they are up to.
    Sandy McMillan


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