Wills criticises trust’s Stalinist approach

The “bureaucratic procedures” of the charitable trust have been compared to those of Joseph Stalin by trustee Jonathan Wills.

Dr Wills comments follow a meeting of the charitable trust yesterday, where he said he was concerned about trustees only being allowed to reject or accept reports without having the option to amend aspects they find troubling.

In a press statement provided after the meeting Dr Wills elaborated on his stance, where he also drew comparisons to Joseph Stalin and the USSR.

He wrote: “At [Thursday’s] charitable trust meeting I again raised what I regard as a wilful misinterpretation of the administrative regulations, which is preventing any trustee from moving an amendment to recommendations from the trust administration.”

He asked for “details of the administrative regulations upon which this ruling is founded” and was told there were two relevant clauses.

• “No business shall be transacted at a meeting of the trust other than that specified in the summons relating thereto”.

• “Four clear days before a meeting the agenda paper for the meeting shall be sent to the trustees of the trust, and no other business, unless the chair judges it urgent, shall be brought before the meeting”.

Dr Wills remains perplexed why that prohibits amendments.

He said: “Neither of these clauses makes any mention whatsoever of how such properly advertised business is to be discussed, debated and decided. This disagreement is not about what should be on the agenda: it is about how it should be dealt with.”

Dr Wills goes on to say that if trustees had “rejected” yesterday’s report, such a move would have an adverse effect on the trust’s ability to disburse money, effectively delaying a decision on the budget until the next quarterly meeting.

He adds: “The present arrangements effectively preclude any amendments at all. It is no exaggeration to observe that this procedure exactly follows the bureaucratic procedures used by Stalin to impose his will upon the Politburo of the USSR.

“If present practice continues, I do not see how we can convince any potential trustees, whether directly elected or not, that their attendance at trust meetings is for any other purpose that to create a cosmetic fiction of democratic procedure when handling over £230m of public money; a stage-managed charade, in other words, in which no self-respecting person would wish to be involved.”

Trust chairman Bobby Hunter said, however, that there were legal constraints which meant amendments could not be made to reports brought before trustees.

Mr Hunter said: “I’m acting on the legal advice given by lawyers.”

Keith Massey, chairman of the trust’s audit and governance advisory committee, said: “The issue of amendments to recommendations has been raised previously, and the trust’s audit and governance advisory committee is currently looking at it to address the concerns of Dr Wills and other trustees. We expect to report before the next trust meeting.”


Add Your Comment
  • ian_tinkler

    • November 25th, 2016 15:15

    Extraordinary garbage from Dr Wills, yet again. Fistly we have a Stalinist Tory Junta, now a Stalinist Charitable Trustees.
    For information, Stalin killed about 20 million people!!
    Thank goodness Jonathan Wills, is soon to retire, his puerile rhetoric and such comments, from a senior Councilor and Vice Chair of the SCT, are an embarrassment to Shetland and verging on the obscene.
    Joseph Stalin, “Estimates of the death toll vary widely, from 3.5-8 million (G Ponton) at the low end to 60 million (A Solzhenitsyn). Today, most historians seem to have settled on a total of about 20 million.”

  • Brian Smith

    • November 25th, 2016 15:48

    The clauses cited have nothing to do with amendments to reports. It sounds as if the Trust needs tuition on basic administrative procedures.

  • Johan Adamson

    • November 28th, 2016 9:26

    This surely shows that the Trustees are totally powerless whether elected or not

    • John Tulloch

      • November 28th, 2016 12:05

      No, they can pass a vote of no confidence in the chairman, he calls the shots at meetings.

  • Peter Hamilton

    • November 28th, 2016 13:35

    Trustees are not powerless at all. Some might be mouthless or gutless though. Others are complaisant, forgetting who they are there to serve. Many don’t bother to turn up at all. Hopefully the next intake will see a few more spirited public servants willing to ask questions and rock the boat a little. If not the reputation of the trust will surely slide further still.

    Public debate is the only way to ensure the funds are effectively used in ways the community supports. Shetland needs SCT trustees who will take the trust closer to the people. If not it will never be trusted.


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