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Shetland Trust defies OSCR on governance reform

Shetland Trust defies OSCR on governance reform
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Shetland Trust defies OSCR on governance reform

Governance | Gareth Jones | 16 Feb 2010

The Shetland Charitable Trust is on a collision course with the Scottish regulator after its trustees refused to ratify changes to the composition of its board.

A working group of trustees has spent the last year coming up with the proposals, which would see the board slimmed to 15 members, after OSCR told the charity it had to reduce its links to the Shetland Island Council.

But following debate at an open board meeting last week, council convener Sandy Cluness moved to delay a decision until after the next local government election, saying: "I am not against change. But the review and the consultation you had have not demonstrated to me that the people of Shetland want this.

"The option is not that there will never be change, but the appropriate time would be after 2012."

Defeated, the Trust’s chair Bill Manson reportedly said: "What you are saying is that the working group worked for a year and got it wrong, or not right enough."

Executive in favour of change

The meeting had begun with a presentation from the Trust’s general manager Ann Black (pictured), who called for the trustees to accept the proposals as they were likely to satisfy OSCR.

These would see the new board reduced to 15 members, comprising eight councillors and seven non-councillors, whereas at present all 21 of the Island's councillors are automatically given a place on the Trust’s board.

The Trust manages investments worth £143.0m and in the year ending March 2009 recorded an income of £18.1m.

Speaking to Civil Society, the Trust’s principal accountant Mary Anderson said OSCR was unlikely to accept changes being postponed.

“I think the next stage is we’re thinking about inviting OSCR to come and meet the trustees, and we’ll have to try to persuade the trustees that at least having a plan for change by 2012 is likely to be mandatory.”

A spokesman for OSCR said the body was in dialogue with the Trust but was not prepared to comment publicly on the situation.

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