Alarm bells ringing (Billy Fox)

The Public Standards Commissioner’s judgement on the complaint raised by Michael Peterson against 14 Shetland Islands councillors now raises more questions than answers.

Where does exoneration of councillor impropriety leave the conflicts of interest concerns of Audit Scotland, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and three independent sets of legal advice sought by the Shetland Islands Council and the Shetland Charitable Trust? Not to mention the opinions of our MSP and MP, The Shetland Times editorial position and the 61 per cent of those polled who answered no when asked by The Shetland Times in September 2009, “Do you think councillors who are also trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust can serve the interests of the community when making decisions on the windfarm?”

Apparently all these people are wrong and the Public Standards Commissioner is right!

Where does it leave the changing position of the council’s monitoring officer when he advised in July 2009 that an “irreconcilable conflict arises for individual councillors in the handling of the Viking Energy windfarm consent application at a point in time when a recommendation requires to be framed to be made to the Scottish ministers”? The majority of councillors chose to ignore this advice; however a significant number followed it. Where does this leave the democratic process? What decisions might have been reached if these councillors felt they could all have legitimately taken part in proceedings? The entire process must now be called into question.

Rather tellingly the commissioner’s report makes significant play that this is a renewable energy project. The nature of a project, or whatever any policy objectives of government may be, should not influence the enforcement of codes of conduct for councillors and members of other public bodies!

Sustainable Shetland’s Standards Commission complaint has yet to be resolved, but given that it is of a similar nature the outcome may be little different.

Regardless of the subject matter and whether you are pro- or anti-Viking Energy, anyone with a genuine interest in the democratic process must have alarm bells ringing over this entire state of affairs.

Billy Fox
Sustainable Shetland


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.