While the move to allow the Shetland electorate a possible one off chance to direct the future of Shetland Charitable Trust is welcome news indeed, one very important argument has not yet been put.
The argument got close to where it needs to go next a couple of weeks ago when Gordon Dargie rightly argued in favour of a beefed up education trust. Great future thinking this. Let’s see Shetland made fairer (and smarter) with most support given to those students whose parents never attended university and laptops given free to all bairns in upper primary.
Presumably a beefed up education trust would need to be funded through future cutbacks on the other trusts. If that’s the public wish so be it, but such a change to historically set priorities and spending patterns could only occur if it was found, through public discussion and reasoning, to reflect Shetland’s changing needs. If other needs triumph, well then no laptops bairns, but possibly a fine new golf course for the Ness! Updating community priorities can only properly occur through public reasoning. How else are folk to be sure the oil money is put to best use?
The prospect of free elections for a fully independent Shetland Charitable Trust raises the possibility that any individual, or group, will be able to put forward proposals about the best use of these community funds and get a fair hearing. There would be no privileged access or selective hearing to favour the pleas of SIC councillors or their cronies.
Given the incredible mess councillors have undoubtedly made of the council’s finances for years, despite many a warning, surely putting the SCT sweetie jar on a high shelf in full public view would be no bad thing. Councillors would then have to join the queue and ask, just like anyone else.
Money put to best use with no privileged access – that is the double dividend of democratically electing a fresh set of fully independent and trusted Shetland Charitable Trust trustees. Indeed Shetland might yet also see more capable trustees and better motivated councillors. Imagine that! That is one option. The other options are more of the same or worse again still. Fairer Shetland anyone?