Jump to content

Pressure grows for bridge inquiry


Recommended Posts

the council don't think they did anything wrong. yet the council lose millions if they had not messed up a 1/4 of the cuts would have been avoided.
they reject an internal inquiry. i would say an external one looking at this and all the other waste of money scheames that the council has thrown our money at would be in order. were is the audit commision when you need them.

even sadder that the court case takes money away from the shetland people was caused by two bodies that are there to improve things for shetlanders.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a disgrace and makes me embarrassed to be a Shetlander.


Jonathan Wills letter makes good points, I have copied it below:


So now we know, more or less, the size of the financial disaster from the Bressay Brig fiasco:


about £2m spent on preliminary work for the brig that never was;


plus £4.8m to settle Lerwick Port Authority’s claim for costs and damages after the SIC went to the Court of Session in 2005 and got a court order (called an interim interdict) to stop the LPA dredging da Nort Mooth, because it would get in the way of one of the Bressa Brig piers;


plus the council’s own legal bills (to be advised, but no doubt a six-figure sum);


plus the cost of hiring specialist surveyors to advise us (ditto);


plus the cost of staff time spent on the case since 2005 (Guess what? They have no idea):


so, probably about £7m in total. But no one is to blame.


That £7m is lost forever. But no one is to blame. Even at today’s low investment returns, £7m could have earned us about £315,000 a year in interest and dividends. We could have spent this income, year after year, on old folks’ lunch clubs, holidays for vulnerable children, day care for pensioners, meals for school hostel pupils, music tuition, a town bus terminal, free ferries for seniors, free waste skips, public toilets - and many other council services that, until now, have made this one of the world’s most civilised small communities.


No one is to blame, but lessons have been learned. No one is to blame, but new procedures are in place. It couldn’t happen again. Maybe not. But why did it happen in the first place?


Most councillors just don’t want to hear any more about it. On Monday (20/2/12) they actually voted 9:4 against asking the council’s Audit & Standards Committee to hold an inquiry. It would cost too much to find out what it had cost, we heard. No one wanted to rake over all this, all over again, someone else said.


The council’s vote against an inquiry was irrelevant because the internal auditors must investigate, anyway. Their independent, factual report must, under the new constitution, come to the Audit Committee in due course. After that, even the Accounts Commission will presumably take a renewed interest and, as usual, find either that no one is to blame or, perhaps, that “a big boy done it and ran awayâ€.


Here are some of the questions that will probably not now get an embarrassing airing in any court, but which the internal auditors might wish to ask:


Why did the council ignore the clear advice it received, over 10 years ago, that Lerwick Port Authority’s legal “duty of conservation†made it impossible for the harbour ever to agree to a bridge that obstructed the north entrance for the passage of the largest vessels likely to use it (including the Royal Navy’s ships)?


Whose bright idea was it to seek the interim interdict in the Court of Session, halting the planned dredging? Was it a councillor, or a member of staff?


What legal advice did they seek, from whom, and when?


What, exactly, did it say?


Did the legal advice point out the dangers of seeking a “wrongful†interim interdict that the council could not justify at a subsequent full hearing in court?


Who decided that, because there was no time to call a council meeting to endorse this expensive and perilous legal adventure, they would have to use the emergency powers that reside with the Convener and Chief Executive?


Who actually exercised the emergency powers?


Was the then Chief Executive involved in the use of the emergency powers?


If not, was he consulted, and what did he say?


When the Monitoring Officer later reported this use of the emergency powers to the council, were members told of the huge financial risks if the court order failed?


Did anyone check whether the council’s insurance policy covered it for acts of negligence or folly by suppliers of advice and services, as well as by councillors and staff?


Why are we relying on the opinion of the insurers on the question of potential council negligence? Do they not have a vested financial interest in finding none?


We hear soothing words to the effect that seeking an interim interdict is always “a judgment call†and that sometimes people get it wrong, with the best of intentions. Only a proper inquiry can tell us whether this was indeed an entirely excusable mistake by innocents who all deserved medals, promotions and pensions, or a foolish gamble, recklessly pursued by ill-advised political incompetents and amounting to misconduct in a public office.

Yours sincerely,


Cllr. Jonathan Wills


Lerwick South ward

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.. and yet there is more to come out in terms of reserves wasted due to political changes of minds.


Last week on 'Public Platform' Cllr Wills confirmed that a 'contingent liability' had been put aside for the building company which lost out at the 11th hour when the decision to not build AHS was taken.. but they won't say publicly how much, to risk prejucing legal procedings.. but we are sure to pay, just as we had to with LPA


A quick look at a SIC paper put up for the meeting on the 16th Feb, shows that the council is fighting 10 cases (which presumably includes the AHS/Knab affair and the Brig) with total liability estimated to be up to £12.6m. (Its exempted from reporting as to what cases these are)


That would suggest that there could be another £7-8 million of the reserves which could be at threat.


Its a shame that some of the decision-makers that have made these bloopers don't have any personal liability for their mistakes.. as it might give us some sense of justice, rather than ongoing frustration and knashing of teeth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a Shetlander living on the mainland the SIC looks like a ship without a rudder and there seams to be no limit on which the council are willing to waste money. closing schools, reducing ferry time tables, etc. How long could, for an example the primary schools that are closing run with a budget of £7.2 million? There are people who have lost their jobs for less than who ever is to blame for this. Shetlanders get these people to stand up and be accountable for their massive blunders, they shouldn't be in office, will they be part of the £33 million needing to be saved..........no they'll be telling you its you thats going to suffer. No inquiry into the loss of £7 million of public money it just aint right!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Buchan has become a mealy mouthed waste of space. "Corporate responsibility" is fine and well when a number of players made relatively minor errors and the cumulative effect was disproportionate to the culpability of any one contributor, but to venture on such a suicidal route as was done with the brig must have been spawned by one, or a relatively small number of guilty players.


How else do you end up doing something so irresponsible without either severely flawed legal opinion, or crashing ahead without getting any, or disregarding that which you did get? Sandy and Morgan are named in the media as having envoked emergency powers to obtain the court order, which has ultimately generated most of the fortune that's just slipped out of everyone's hands, at the very least they need to be made to be accountable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Words fail me (well almost :wink: ), watched the news item on Grampian, once again Shetland is a laughing stock in front of the media thanks to decisions being made by people clearly not fit for the task.


As for no-one is to blame, I'd beg to differ on that one.


And the news also mentioned that the SIC were now committed to building 4 tunnels to replace ferry services - I can think of about a dozen folk who could start immediately with picks and shovels, as they might as well be of some use as they can't fritter away any more money as there's none left.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to this article




The row has already cost both sides in the region of £4.5 million, including a £1.6 million claim by Belgium dredging contractor Jan de Nul for the loss of business due to the interdict.


A £4 million allocation of EU funding to build the bridge has been lost due to the ongoing delays in the project.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...