Editorial: The Old Rock 19.08.11

It remains to be seen what trustees finally decide at the next meeting of Shetland Charitable Trust on 8th September, but if they decide to adopt the mooted system of seven councillor-trustees chosing eight “independent” trustees it will be a sad day indeed for democracy in Shetland.

This column has long argued that all trustees should be elected, although it is clear that there is little appetite for the introduction of elections among trustees. However, even if one can accept the need for appointees with particular expertise, it would surely contravene the spirit if not the letter of what the charities regulator is seeking here – greater distance between the trust and the SIC – if those appointees are granted their posts at the behest of councillor-trustees.

If appointments and not elections is the preferred method, responsibility for the appointments must not lie with councillor-trustees. A mechanism for genuinely independent appointments would not be difficult to establish. Failure to establish one will further erode the trust’s already fragile legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

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If, as Oscar Wilde opined, conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative, there are a lot of unimaginative people around in Shetland just now. Unimaginative, perhaps, but mightily relieved for certain. After an atrocious summer, which reached its cold nadir during the Tall Ships, we have been blessed this week with a fine, sunny spell – just as the schools went back, of course, but what did we expect?

While the moods of builders, grass cutters and postmen brightened with the sunshine, many office-bound workers girned about the halcyon conditions, restricted as they were to out-of-hours enjoyment. Or maybe enjoyment is too strong a word – after all, there were the dreaded midges to contend with. We mustn’t grumble – but we will.


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