A front page article in The Shetland Times dated 1st July (Members say “no” to councillor trustees) goes on to quote councillor Allan Wishart as saying that “the conflict of interest was a real problem … it means that councillor trustees are really not much use to the trust or the council”.
Councillor Gary Robinson stressed that councillor trustees must act in the interest of the council rather than the interest of the trust, and that there needs to be “clear blue water” between the council and the charitable trust.
How things have changed over the years since many of us pressed for separation of the two bodies – going so far as to complain to the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR), to be told there was no conflict of interest when councillors were also trustees as well as employees or paid representatives of Viking Energy.
For years many of us have been protesting against the power-driven Viking Energy project which, if it was newly mooted now, should be thrown out as being uneconomic, wasteful, environmentally damaging and harmful to the health of people who live in the close vicinity of giant wind turbines – which is now known to be the case.
Charitable trust chairman Bobby Hunter’s view that the trust and the council should work together is totally wrong in my opinion – they should not have the same agenda.
The council should approach the trust when they are looking to fund a Shetland-based project – funds which they could either borrow or be given a grant at the discretion of the Shetland Charitable Trust so long as it meets the criteria of the terms of the trust.
The trust should be independent of the council and look at all submissions for loans or grants from Shetland-based companies, groups, or individuals, or the council.
Many of the same names are involved with the trust, council and Viking Energy as were 10 years ago and more. It is time for this to change also.