Cooper bars public from meeting on promoting Shetland
The divisive idea that a meeting discussing the case for promoting Shetland should be held in private left the council chamber split this morning.
Before the meeting got under way chairman of the special development committee Alastair Cooper suggested that members of the public and the press should be removed from the chamber to avoid disclosure of commercially sensitive information.
This motion was seconded by vice-chairman Theo Smith but was questioned by former deputy leader of the council Billy Fox.
Mr Fox queried the U-turn, noting that a previous meeting on the same topic was originally to be held in private before being changed to a public meeting.
Unsure of the validity of Mr Cooper’s reasoning Mr Fox then motioned for the meeting to go ahead in public as originally planned.
Amanda Westlake seconded this, meaning that the issue went to a vote.
Before going to a vote Mr Cooper asked Leisel Gair to read the passages in the relevant legislation which he thought justified his motion. Nobody on the opposing side was allowed a rebuttal.
After votes were cast, by way of raising a hand, it was found that the chamber was evenly split.
Mr Cooper, Mr Smith, Mark Burgess and Robert Henderson were in favour of removing the public, while Mr Fox, Ms Westlake, Andrea Manson and council leader Gary Robinson were in favour of keeping the debate public.
As a result of the tie Mr Cooper cast his deciding vote as chairman.
This meant that Shetland Amenity Trust general manager Jimmy Moncrieff and councillor and amenity trust member Frank Robertson had to leave the chamber, alongside members of the press.
• More in this week’s Shetland Times