Time for sober analysis (Les Sinclair)

“Action needed now or oil funds could be gone in five years” – The Shetland Times, 20th July.

The above article quotes the SIC convener, Malcolm Bell, as saying: “If we don’t demonstrate that we’re capable of running the council sustainably, then there is no doubt that it will be taken out of our hands one way or another.”

The article also quotes him as saying that he sees little point engaging in a “blame game”, and that he rejects any notion of “scaremongering” to persuade the public to accept the necessary cuts.

Whether or not the operational management of the SIC will be taken over by a central body remains to be seen, but it seems clear that fundamental and far-reaching structural change must continue to be undertaken within the SIC to minimise the possibility of that happening.

Whilst engaging in a “blame game” would undoubtedly not be helpful, surely the population of Shetland deserves to be made fully aware of past mistakes, both operational and strategic, that have been made by the SIC, and perhaps more importantly, does the population of Shetland not deserve to be made fully aware of remedial action that has been undertaken by the SIC to ensure such mistakes are not repeated?

Would it not be helpful for the SIC to publish, for example, a list of council capital projects that have come in over budget and outwith projected timescales over the past 20 years, with a full explanation of what action was taken in each case to ensure any mistakes or lapses in procedure did not recur?

In relation to “scaremongering”, would it not be helpful for the SIC to publish, for example, a list of services provided by the council, with full cost implications, that are duplicated by other public sector bodies not funded by the SIC and which often provide a higher level of service? In effect, these duplications in service, which certainly exist within the SIC, mean that Shetland taxpayers are paying twice for the same service, or in some cases inferior provision, through the council.

Surely it’s time to move away from the rhetoric that seems to prevail in relation to the SIC and embark on a period of sober analysis?

Les Sinclair
8 Annsbrae Place,


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