Councillor Allan Wishart has been telling us that it is essential to press ahead with £26 or £33 million of cuts right away, to ease pressure on reserves. If that doesn’t happen, he warns, the funds will disappear, and future generations of Shetlanders will suffer.
Mr Wishart is reciting the council’s budget report of last September, which gave councillors one option and one timetable. Instead of scrutinising it carefully, and considering what the results of such an extreme prescription might be, they swallowed it whole. They have wasted six months.
There is a major problem about the council’s reserves, but, as the unions have been warning for months, a massively sharp shock will cause big problems for Shetland and Shetlanders, now and in future.
Even at this late date the council can reconsider last year’s report, and conclude that Shetland needs more time for hard thinking and hard discussion about her current problems. The latest budget document, created at the last moment and full of last-minute ideas, and the whistling-in-the dark report from Hutton, are not a basis for the calm decisions that need to be taken.