Regulator orders Shetland Charitable Trust to drop referendum plan and threatens court action

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The charity regulator OSCR has ordered Shetland Charitable Trust to scrap its plan for a referendum.

It is also threatening to seek powers from the Court of Session to control the charity unless trustees act promptly to dilute Shetland Island Council’s stranglehold over trustee membership.

Ultimately the court could grant OSCR the right to suspend or remove those who control or manage the trust and to appoint its own trustee. Other powers available include stopping the trust spending its funds and removing its right to exist as a charity.

In an unusually stern and robust letter last week OSCR’s new chief executive David Robb has accused trustees of misconduct and ordered them to provide an undertaking before the end of next week that they will not pursue September’s decision to hold a referendum on trust reform.

By Christmas they must also provide OSCR with a timetable to implement the changes to the trust’s constitution which are required to address concerns about councillor-trustees’ conflicts of interest and to make it independent of the local authority, which currently holds 22 of the 24 trustee posts.

If trustees fail to act within the timeframe OSCR will issue an order preventing the trust using its own funds to hold the referendum. It will then petition the Court of Session for an order to allow it to intervene to prevent misconduct and to protect the trust’s funds, worth around £250 million.

The bill for any court action is likely to land on the trust’s doorstep.

Mr Robb, who took up his new post on 24th October, told trustees: “We are mindful of the protracted discussions we have already had and the absence of adequate action on the part of the charity trustees over the past three years. Given this, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action including seeking the necessary orders from the court if matters cannot be resolved to our satisfaction within a reasonable timescale.”

In a statement today trust chairman Bill Manson, who has been critical of the referendum proposal, said: “Given the inordinate length of time these discussions have taken, and with no early prospect of any decisions, it is not surprising that OSCR’s patience has worn thin and that it has imposed a very limited timescale to finalise our proposals for change. OSCR continues to seek that the changes be proposed by the trustees and it will then rule upon whether our proposals meet the legal requirements.”

But council convener Sandy Cluness, who led the call for a referendum, said he was minded to call on the trust to defy OSCR when it holds a special meeting in the next few days to consider what action to take.

He said. “I believe that the community has the right to say what kind of system they want without having one imposed on them. So my view will remain the same.”

The referendum is intended to seek the views of the people of Shetland on three options: should trust membership stay the same, change to seven councillors and eight independent trustees or become wholly independent with all trustees elected?


Add Your Comment
  • phili smith

    • November 28th, 2011 12:31

    By far the biggest danger to the trusts (public) funds is Viking Energy and those in the council / trust who would play “Russian roulette” with the Shetland public’s money.
    Time for change..NOW!

  • ian tinkler

    • November 28th, 2011 12:59

    What a pity this did not happen a few months, or a year or so ago. Saves the £4.5 million squandered on Viking Energy. Can Trusties be surcharged under Scotish law?

  • P. Fraser

    • November 28th, 2011 14:20

    Trustees Manson and Cluness should do the honourable thing and resign now over their mishandling and misuse of Shetland Charitable Trust. However we know they will not because of their arrogance and belief that they are always right no matter what the circumstances or the view of the public.

    Under their stewardship the SCT has been variously accused of manipulation, of nepotism, of waste, of signing of secret deals for which they have no mandate, and of holding inquorate meetings to make payments from the Trust.

    Now they have been found guilty of misconduct and not before time. If Cluness and others get their way and continue to defy the law Shetland Charitable Trust will lose charitable status. If this happens funds within the trust will be frozen to stop further losses, and rightly so.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • November 28th, 2011 15:08

    Do the honourable thing. Have you ever seen a pig fly,. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • David Spence

    • November 28th, 2011 16:17

    Ever since the concept of Viking Energy creating a scheme where the Shetland people pay the majority cost of building, erecting and most likely maintaining this massive white elephant, nobody has for months and months ever questioned the exact role and consequences of the Charitable Trust, and the huge impact it would have on the local economy as well as hindering if not preventing further projects (more worthy of the investment at a vastly reduced price) ever getting started.

    A good example of this is the Shetland knitwear industry, and, based on research, its more than likely demise within 10+ years or so has had very little investment overall, and most certainly has had very little interest from today’s Shetlander to maintain and keep this ‘ famous cultural identity ‘ alive.

  • John Tulloch

    • November 28th, 2011 19:18

    Let me see…

    The Scottish government is holding an international conference in January on conservation of peatlands,
    The IPCC has reported there will be no discernible effects of “climate change” in the next 20 to 30 years,
    The UK government has halved the feed-in tariff for solar power and reduced the other renewables obligations payments,
    The Liberal Chief Secretary of the Treasury has today suggested that the £1billion set aside to fund carbon capture and storage development could be used to fund general infrastructure projects and
    The Scottish charities regulator has suddenly decided to come down hard on the SIC over perceived shenanigans with its stewardship of SCT.

    Is it just me or is there a trend here? Looks like fiery fossil fuel sacrifices to Mammon could be back in vogue?

  • Alan Skinner

    • November 28th, 2011 23:31

    What excellent news. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of an end to a saga that has shown Shetland in a very bad light to the outside world for several years.

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 1st, 2011 0:11

    It has now been proven without a shadow of a doubt that over the years, ever since the proposal to open the Oil terminal at Sullom Voe and the deal done to lease land at the site in return for financial gain or compensation paid into a charitable trust to be run by trustees for the benefit of the community (see the OSCR’S website). At no time was this trust to be run by Shetland Island Council who make up all but two of the twenty odd trustees this then by law breaches the trusts integrity.

    At the same time the influence to use trust funds over the years can be proven to have financed council projects if we probe into the contracts which have built various buildings and bridges on the isles.

    Who recieved the contracts? to build such projects and is there is any connections with councillors on the committee to the companies who were awarded contracts in the years since it was set up?

    The New terminal will provide Gas for years and years to come but will the price of Gas to the Scottish householder go down? not as long as we Scot’s let Westminster set the tax on the raw materials.

    Has the terms of any agreements been published for all to see? no chance if there should be any proposals on anything as the idea put forward by councillor Sandy Clunes to hold a referendum ! the questions to ask is why are you trying to take on the OSCR who govern all charities in Scotland? is this because you will not give up power over a fund which you know is massive and you and your council cronies want to control it ?

    The Gas and Oil into the shetlands belongs to the Scottish Government and all the scottish people not just the few, it would well within the remit of the OSCR to apply for and be granted control of these funds which could be run from the Capital of the country, Edinburgh, for good causes throughout the whole of Scotland. Trustee should be set up at Hollyrood this would be far enough away to ensure any influence over the trust by Shetland Isles Council members or contractors for their own gains.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • December 1st, 2011 9:37

    “The Gas and Oil into the shetlands belongs to the Scottish Government” “Trustee should be set up at Hollyrood this would be far enough away to ensure any influence over the trust by Shetland Isles.” Spoken like a true Salmond puppet. Good of you to inform us Dave, is this what Shetlanders want?

  • natalie opray

    • December 1st, 2011 21:26

    lol cant even get his geography correct no such place as the shetlands. there is Shetland or the Shetland isles. Ask Shetland folk what they want! 21 years of knowing and loving them so trust me they have brains and guts to stand up to the soothmoothers. Unfortunately i had to leave the Islands.

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 1st, 2011 21:43

    Scotland is run from Hollyrood this is only correct, any local deals which opt out to suit themselves are living in cloud cookoo land. This trust was set up within the rules of the
    OSCR who govern all so called charities in Scotland. If the charity is seen to be used by a council for it’s own purposes then I for one will vote for Goverment intervention. Times have changed from the 1960’s/70,when Gas & Oil licences were issued by the Goverment to companies to explore the North sea for these products which have been found in abundance.

    This Trust is in control of a fund of £250 million and this will rise when the new Gas terminal
    goes live I for one would be happy to share this fund with other places in Scotland which are in need of help financially, this could be in the form of low interest loans for community projects. This along with heating subsidies for the low income families and others such as pensioners, disabled and the unemployed to name a few.

    These ideas are for the benefit of people not companies like the Viking idea!!!

  • ali inkster

    • December 7th, 2011 22:49

    @dave heany “you will vote for government control of the trust” just what the hell has it got to do with you?

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 8th, 2011 20:17

    ali inkster

    “As a Scottish taxpayer” PLENTY!!

  • John Thomson

    • December 19th, 2011 15:49

    Sorry Dave but you might be missunderstanding something here. So to clear it up. SCT stands for SHETLAND Charitable Trust. Being a Scottish or British taxpayer has got absolutely no bearing on the matter as your tax money doesn’t contribute in any way to the charitable funds.

  • Colin Hunter

    • December 19th, 2011 18:40

    I think Mr Heany should at least tell us exactly where on this planet he resides. I fear it may be he who is in Cloud Cuckoo Land! I await the forthcoming book which he claims to be writing with baited breath. What was it again Mr Heany? “How to deal with Oil and gas Companies” or something like that. Yeah! Right! Whatever it is, I’m certain it will be enlightening!
    Mr Tinkler seems to think that you are a “True Salmond Puppet”. Yet again I find myself disagreeing with him. Reading between the lines I would say that your political leanings are somewhat more to the Left, perhaps even to the left of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky!

  • ian tinkler

    • December 19th, 2011 20:52

    “As a Scottish taxpayer?” PLENTY!! UK taxpayer with a chip?

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 21st, 2011 0:01

    Ian Thompson

    Thank you for pointing out what SCT stands for. As a Scot I would like to see this changed to
    Scottish Charitable Trust and put under the control of the Scottish Goverment.

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 21st, 2011 0:11

    Colin Hunter

    Proud to be an Alex Salmond fan, not a fan of any former Russian leaders though. To share out with fellow countrymen the wealth of our country created from the products of our country ie

    Oil & Gas is not called communist or leftist, it’s called Independance, with the right to manage our own resourses for the benefit of all. Wealthy middle class need not apply for any help if they so desire.

  • ian tinkler

    • December 21st, 2011 9:17

    Dave Heaney, “To share out with fellow countrymen the wealth of our country” Our country, Shetlands wealth for Scotland only? Typical Scot Nat. Plunder Shetland for Scotland and Salmond’s gloriana. Just forget the UK, forget Shetlander’s, just selfish, self centered, xenophobic socialist nationalism. How do you justify Scotland only Mr. Heaney

  • Colin Hunter

    • December 21st, 2011 10:44

    Unbelievable! Mr Heany claims not to be a communist, yet advocates taking government control of the Shetland Charitable trust to “Share with our fellow countrymen the wealth of our country” and the “Wealthy middle class need not apply” The only phrase missing was “the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie”! Add in a bit of martial music and a red flag to wave and you’re there! I somehow don’t think that Alex Salmonds vision of an independent Scotland, which I applaud, and Mr Heany’s, are anywhere near the same!
    It may have escaped your notice Mr Heany, but both Russia and, to a lesser extent, China have abandoned Communism as unworkable and China in particular is now possibly the most productive country in the world. The only true Communist country remaining is North Korea, where the people are even ordered to weep in the streets when they should be rejoicing! Mind you, I’d be weeping too if I had the same as them to look forward to! The definition of a communist is “Someone who has nothing and wants everybody else to have the same” Seems to be working there anyway!

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 22nd, 2011 7:25

    To create employment for all, to help young people with careers and getiing apprenticships so they earn a wage to be able to buy a place to live, to help adults with finance to re educate themselfs so they could be employed in Scotlands Oil & Gas terminals instead of agency workers coming from all over Europe taking jobs away from local people. Putting Scottish people first this is the way forward for Scotland. To raise our own Tax’es take care of our own people. Scotland’s population is aprox five million so like Norway we could have one of the best standard’s of living in the world for the majority and not the minority to share out our great country’s wealth with my fellow countrymen, women and future generations under the banner of total Independance. What is produced in Scotland surely belongs to Scotland?

  • Gordon Harmer

    • December 22nd, 2011 13:45

    Let’s all go and live in the world of Dave Heaney,
    As he is a giver not a tight fisted meaney,
    Lets divvy up Shetlands quarter of a billion,
    Among all of the Scots, the whole five million,
    Lets create a nation full of millionaires,
    What about the future, dam it who cares,
    Lets live for today and forget about tomorrow,
    Use Shetland’s nest egg to cure Dave Heaney’s sorrow.

  • Colin Hunter

    • December 22nd, 2011 16:25

    You’re absolutely right Mr Heany, But you can’t just take funds belonging to a particular local authority and use them willy nilly to prop up the day to day activities of the entire country. The Charitable trust was built up during the years when a great deal of oil was passing over the Jetties of Sullom Voe, which incidentally belong to the SIC, in excess of 1 MILLION tonnes a week at it’s peak in the mid ’80s. The Oil flow, and the revenues and harbour dues from it are now much decreased, so the fund now has investments, the returns from which are used, within the rules imposed upon such things, and the democratic decision of the trustees, to provide monies to the elderly and disadvantaged to help with winter fuel bills for instance. Is that not exactly what you say should be done? The Trust also makes investments in local industries to promote employment, and hopefully, in the longer term, make returns on those monies……..and so on.
    One of the thing that BP has always done in Shetland, and probably at Grangemouth and it’s other facilities, is to provide apprenticeships at the Terminal, and bursaries to other students. A great many young Shetlanders have benefited from this, and many have excelled and moved on to greater things. One even returned to Manage the terminal.
    With the development of the new Total facility at Sullom Voe, they, too have initiated a training scheme along similar lines. So, you see, all the things you say should be done, already are being done. You will never do away with the need for itinerant workers when developing such facilities, simply because the numbers and skills required do not exist in the local workforce…Anywhere. These developments, by their very nature, require people to travel and work away from home, they require massive manpower over a relatively short period and as soon as they are up and running, the people move on to the next such project. Projects such as the new Forth Crossing. Do you think that could be built by the unemployed people in Dunfermline and Falkirk? If is was, I don’t really think I’d want to go across it!

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 23rd, 2011 18:08

    Why has the office of the regulator accused the SCT and SIC of the following.
    No accounts made public, no transparicy, not enough non councillors on the board of the SCT
    I could go on but you have also read the reasons why the OSCR wants to see changes
    in the running of this fund. Also the income from the next generation of Gas transportation in and through Shetland will continue to fill the coffers for the next thirty odd years. What I suggested is of course unpalitable to the Torys/libdem supporters where a good forward thinking true Scot would say whatever wealth there is, should be under the control of the Scottish Goverment for the benefit of the Scottish economy

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 23rd, 2011 19:55

    I take what you say onboard but, I never suggested taking funds from a local authority for anything, when did the SCT become the local authority? we all know it is one and the same but it’s not supposed to be now is it? Why has the regulator accused it of being secrative,and
    not transparent with is meetings ect ect. Let me ask you have you ever worked at any Oil and Gas terminals in Scotland or anywhere else? after many years in this industry what I said was on shetland the set up and training required for the retraining of Adults to enter the production side, ie the daily running and maintance of the terminals should come from unemployed scots by scots I mean from all over Scotland not just Shetland and financed by the charitable fund. Apprenticships operated by BP or any other company is a different thing of course BP operate apprenticeship schemes for schooleavers and this is a good thing long may they do so. As for itinerant workers or outside contractors of course every large scale project needs skilled labour but not at the expence of unemployed scots this could have been a condition of the planning application for the new terminal. If like you say the fund helps invest in local projects why has it not offered help to the Shetland wool industry forexample.
    It is now time to set up a website for the SCT only, all buisness printed online. All works carried out under the SCT should printed out in the times for all to see. Colin your points are very good indeed. Most people do not have a clue of the Oil and Gas industry the ins and outs
    of it thats why I say it would be wiser if all negotiations regarding future income from the new terminal are put into the hands of the Scottish business Secretary. DEVOLUTION has been good for Scotland it’s brought us our own parliament-open proporionate, inclusive and
    accessable now scots look more to Holyrood than westminster. In just twelve years the political settlement has grown from infant to huge and popular success story. May I wish you
    and all our online friends a happy Christmas and a great Scottish New Year.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • December 24th, 2011 6:44

    Ahh, now Iv’e got your message Dave what your saying is that Salmonds pipe dream of an independent Scotland is flawed financially. To make it work he has to plunder our charitable trust fund to bolster the coffers as well as increase taxes for every worker and company in Scotland.
    Years ago we in Shetland voted a massive no to entry to the EEC this year we voted a massive no to Scottish independence by not voting in an SNP to Holyrood. We know what is good for an Island community, in the past we did not bow to pressure from oil companies and now we will not bow to pressure from Alex Salmond or his puppet’s or should that be Muppet’s.


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