Trust reform proposals condemned by community councils

Proposals to change the way Shetland Charitable Trust is governed are “seriously flawed” and the timetable for consultation on them is “ridiculously” short, according to community councils in the isles.

In a statement today Jim Gear, chairman of the Association of Shetland Community Councils (ASCC), and vice-chairman Laurence Odie warned that vitally important benefits could be threatened by the appointment of some trustees.

People in Shetland have been given until tomorrow to respond to proposals for 15 trustees, eight of whom would be appointed with the remaining seven coming from the ranks of councillors.

Mr Gear and Mr Odie said: “We wish to strongly protest at the ridiculously short time scale for consultation on this matter of vital importance to the Shetland community. We believe that the current proposals for changes to the governance of the Shetland Charitable Trust are seriously flawed.

“Every intelligent voter in Shetland is aware that when they vote for their SIC councillor, they are also electing a trustee for SCT board of trustees. It is vital that the democratic link is preserved when the board of trustees is re-organised.

“It is essential that all non SIC trustees are elected democratically for a fixed term by the Shetland people so they are accountable to the Shetland public through the ballot box.”

Mr Gear and Mr Odie said the new unelected trustees, who would form a majority, would have the power drastically to change trust policies.

“Vitally important benefits, such as the pensioners’ Christmas bonus, the rural care centres, the leisure centres, the amenity trust, Citizens Advice Bureau and most of the voluntary organisations in Shetland, could be under threat from unelected and unaccountable trustees.”

They said charitable trust money was held in trust for the people of Shetland and the board of trustees was responsible and accountable to them for the fund.


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