Bell takes on tricky role of selecting independent trustees

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell will represent the local authority on a three-strong panel to select eight independent trustees for Shetland Charitable Trust.

He was the trust’s clear choice of candidate for the controversial task today at a special meeting in the Lerwick Hotel after chairman Drew Ratter withdrew from the nominations.

Mr Ratter’s candidacy had been opposed by trustee Alastair Cooper who said he would be perceived by some as too close to Viking Energy as an ex-director of the windfarm company. The trust has a 45 per cent stake in the windfarm venture.

Nominating Mr Bell instead, Mr Cooper said what was needed was somebody neither in the pro nor the anti-windfarm camp.

Mr Ratter had been nominated by Jonathan Wills and seconded by Allan Wishart. At the start of the meeting he apologised to trust colleagues for suggesting to them previously in a letter that he should be the councillor-trustee’s candidate.

The panel’s task is contentious because the eight people it selects to join the £220 million charity will have a major say over its future and its future decisions relating to Viking Energy. Up to now the trust’s fate has been in the hands of councillors and just two independent trustees, who could wield little power.

Under the new-look trust all but seven of the 20 councillors currently on the charity will be gone.

Mr Bell will now take up his seat on the panel alongside independent trustee Valerie Nicolson, who is the head of the Anderson High School, and a panellist from outwith Shetland, Karen Carlton, who will chair the proceedings.

Dr Carlton comes highly qualified for the job. She was Scotland’s first Commissioner for Public Appointments for the eight years up to May. She wrote the first and subsequent codes of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies in Scotland and scrutinised the appointment practices of the Scottish ministers to make sure they were open, fair and based on the merit of applicants.

Dr Carlton is also a chartered fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, a trustee of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and a member of the appointments panel for BBC Scotland.

Recruitment of the eight independent trustees is due to get under way this week with an advertising campaign.

The closing date for applications is Friday 9th November. After interviews on 26th November, the names of the successful eight will be conveyed to the trust for final approval at a meeting on 13th December.

The new-look trust must be in place by the end of March to satisfy the charity regulator OSCR.

The selection process is being overseen by Susan Myles and Jackie Wright from Inverness-based organisational development consultants People Pioneers. One of their jobs will be to brief the selection panel on how it conducts itself.


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