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.