Share

Board members should be publicly-elected, not finance or law 'geeks', argue Shetland councillors

The Shetland Islands. Picture courtesy of 'Snappybex' on Flickr
News

Board members should be publicly-elected, not finance or law 'geeks', argue Shetland councillors

Governance | Gareth Jones | 24 Aug 2011

Two trustees have hit out at plans for over half of the Shetland Charitable Trust's board to be selected by fellow trustees rather than publicly-elected, arguing that it doesn’t need “experts in accountancy or the finer points of law”.

In a letter to the Scotsman, Gary Robinson and Jonathan Wills responded to plans to reduce the number of trustees from 23 to 15, and to ensure that no more than seven are local councillors.

They argued that the eight non-councillor trustees should be elected from among the islands' citizenship rather than appointed by existing board members.

The letter represents the latest stage in an ongoing controversy over who controls the trust, which has an annual income of over £10m, looks after the islands’ oil revenues and is in line to receive future windfarm profits.

Previously all local councillors had an automatic right to sit on the trustee board.

"A public trust"

In the joint letter, Robinson and Wills wrote: “It might be appropriate to fill a small family trust or a single-purpose private trust with lawyers, accountants and 'human resources' geeks, but the Shetland Charitable Trust is a public trust.

“The most important attribute for a public trustee is that he or she is trusted by the community to represent their interests when spending millions of pounds of public money a year.

“Our trustees don’t need to be experts in accountancy or the finer points of charity law, although it’s handy if they are.

“They merely require intelligence, common sense and probity. If elected trustees need training, the trust can provide it. It already does.

“If there’s a shortage of some skills and experience, the trust can and does buy in professional expertise of the highest quality.”

OSCR intervention

The Trust has been ordered by OSCR to reduce links between the Council and the Trust, a judgement which trustees were forced to accept after the view was corroborated by a lawyer appointed to report on the issue.

In May, the Trust’s board voted to make the changes, but differences remain about whether the independent trustees should still be elected by and from among the public, or whether they should merely be appointed by existing trustees.

In the letter, Robinson and Wills vowed “to do everything in our power to keep control of Shetland’s community funds in the hands of elected representatives”.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

Sector 'extraordinarily disconnected' from public, CFG chair says

15 Apr 2014

Charities are becoming “extraordinarily disconnected” from donors and supporters who do not understand...

Stephen Frost announced as Charity Awards host

15 Apr 2014

Civil Society Media is delighted to announce that this year's Charity Awards will be presented by actor...

2014 will be year of growth for charity sector, NCVO forecast suggests

14 Apr 2014

Forty-one per cent of charities expect their general situation to improve in the next 12 months, compared...

Sector 'extraordinarily disconnected' from public, CFG chair says

15 Apr 2014

Charities are becoming “extraordinarily disconnected” from donors and supporters who do not understand...

Stephen Frost announced as Charity Awards host

15 Apr 2014

Civil Society Media is delighted to announce that this year's Charity Awards will be presented by actor...

CRUK is charity partner for 2015 London Marathon

15 Apr 2014

Cancer Research UK has been named the official charity of next year’s London Marathon and hopes to raise...

'Technology can offer charities more than just online donations'

10 Apr 2014

Charities are focusing too much on using digital tools for fundraising instead of how technology can be...

Amnesty calls for 'full and frank disclosure' on alleged US surveillance

9 Apr 2014

Amnesty International has warned that alleged mass surveillance by the American intelligence agency NSA...

Virgin Money Giving launches app following year of growth

1 Apr 2014

Virgin Money Giving has launched an app for users after reporting that 30 per cent of traffic to its platform...

Join the discussion

Twitter
 
Training

Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<