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Shetland Councillors


ThePMx
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^ Debt Collector, or Sheriff Officer, or both rolled in to one? They are related, but fundamentally different job descriptions.

 

Regardless, either the SIC use 'private investigators" or 'grasses' of some description apparently as routine, or are the biggest liars going. As written evidence exists of at least one SIC 'Manager' advising colleagues that 'my local contact in xxxxxxx informs me......' along with similar claims and references.

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^ Yes,, and it was only from there that residents in his Ward learned around two or so years ago that he had returned unannounced to the employment of Scott & Co. at some unknown time between than and 2007. Despite it being a widespread belief that he had given a public undertaking before he was initially elected, that if returned as a Councillor, he would cease being employed by them.

 

Whether public knowledge that he'd returned to employment with Scott & Co, and a belief among those who had become aware that this was the case that he had 'gone back on his word', would have translated in to a decline in support for him at election time. Unfortunately we will never know, as we never had the opportunity to express an opinion in that area as he was returned by default, not popular choice.

 

I hear on the jungle drums that he returned to the employment of Scott & Co. as he had been advised there was no legal impediment to him doing so, but whether or not that is accurate advice, I wouldn't know, legalities aren't my forte. However, I would contend that the legal angle is virtually irrelevant (I know he'd argue it is everything though), and that the ethical and moral angles are far more relavant and important.

 

At the time it started to be become widely know that he'd returned to the employment of Scott & Co. he was in addition to representing the interests of the residents of the Shetland South Ward, a member (and Vice-Chair if memory serves) of the Audit & Scrutiny Committee among several others. Since last year's election, he has been the Chair of Audit & Scrutiny (or whatever they call it now). Membership of that committee, as I understand it, puts those serving on it in a somewhat unique and delicate position of not only overseeing, policing and judging all SIC activities, but obviously also overseeing, policing and judging their own actions wherever else within the SIC they operate.

 

To be effective, and to be trusted the individuals on that committee would need to be beyond squeaky clean and above any suspicion whatsoever. If they are not, suspicions will inevitably arise that they are (ab)using their position on that committee to encourage it to 'overlook' issue(s) that may be to the personal benefit of a member, that may not have been 'overlooled' otherwise.

 

I will make it clear that I most definitely am NOT alledging anything untoward is actually going on. What I am saying though, is that this individual is being paid to serve Court Summonses, which certainly places a massive question mark over his motivation to assist any resident of the Shetland South Ward resolve a dispute which is heading towards the Court, and he is also in a prime position through his Committee Chair position to press for the SIC to resort to Court proceedings as quickly as possible in any dispute they are involved in.

 

Now maybe he's as straight as a die, and conscientiously works wherever he can to assist in achieving amicable out of Court solutions, even if he deprives himself of a pay cheque as a result, I don't know, as I don't know the individual well enough to make such a judgement call.

 

However by engaging in the paid employment he is doing, and holding the public positions he does, which could potentially allow him to influence the level of work he is given by his employer, especially SIC work, and consequently the size of his own pay cheque, he is creating a potential conflict or interest situation.

 

Put simply, if you held two jobs, and you could bust a gut in one doing it well, which reduced the amount or work and income you got from your other job. Or, you could be as lackadaisical and laid back in one of your jobs as you liked, just letting what happens, happens, and in doing so you potentially increased your income from your other job. Which option would you choose?

 

The folk of the Shetland South Ward especially, and all Shetlanders in general, I do not believe should have to be asking themselves that question continously, and never getting an answer.

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I'm not saying things are perfect, but the the Audit Scotland reports on the SIC governance and financial management as reported in the local news does not paint a damning picture. It might mention room for improvements etc., but hardly incompetence and greed.

 

On the other matter, 3 jobs as declared, don't forget the [:sheep]  :rolleyes: and yes, unchallenged incumbent, hopefully get a few options next time.

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I'm not saying things are perfect, but the the Audit Scotland reports on the SIC governance and financial management as reported in the local news does not paint a damning picture. It might mention room for improvements etc., but hardly incompetence and greed.

So Audit Scotland reports what they want you to believe, and the S. I. C. will agree with them, regardless of what has really been done. Some of us have an idea of the truth and a lot of people believe what they are told to believe.

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I'm not saying things are perfect, but the the Audit Scotland reports on the SIC governance and financial management as reported in the local news does not paint a damning picture. It might mention room for improvements etc., but hardly incompetence and greed.

So Audit Scotland reports what they want you to believe, and the S. I. C. will agree with them, regardless of what has really been done. Some of us have an idea of the truth and a lot of people believe what they are told to believe.

 

 

Audit Scotland are no friends of the SIC, they wouldn't be reporting good news unless that was indeed true.

 

It is you who is going to continue to believe what you hear in terms of rumours rather than believing the facts put in front of you.

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To be honest, I've barely set foot across the threshold of council establishments in the past 20 years, luckily maybe. So I've not got much to go on beyond the normal rumor mill which I alway take with a very large pinch of salt, so it's not about gullibility. Sounds like you have some real insight into some pretty bad stuff George?

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Audit Scotland are no friends of the SIC, they wouldn't be reporting good news unless that was indeed true.

 

It is you who is going to continue to believe what you hear in terms of rumours rather than believing the facts put in front of you.

Audit Scotland are possibly not seen as friends of the S. I. C. but there is a problem. Audit Scotland operates on behalf of the Scottish government. Shetland is part of Scotland and has been since 1469, therefore it answers to Holyrood at the end of the day. That means that what the Scottish government decides to do will be inflicted upon Shetland, via the S. I. C. That will not always be to our benefit but it's how it works.

 

To be honest, I've barely set foot across the threshold of council establishments in the past 20 years, luckily maybe. So I've not got much to go on beyond the normal rumor mill which I alway take with a very large pinch of salt, so it's not about gullibility. Sounds like you have some real insight into some pretty bad stuff George?

I understand who the next body above the S. I.C. is. That's the Scottish government, and they tell the council what they can and cannot do. Whether that's any good for Shetland is another story.

Edited by George.
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None of this is a revelation though. It's, as you say, how it works and Shetland is subject to the same rules as everywhere else is it not. Scottish Government recognise that Shetland, Orkney and some of the Western Isles have higher service costs per head of population, so get significantly more per head in the general revenue grant. I don't know how fair that is but sounds ok. Maybe you know of more sinister things.

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I'm not saying things are perfect, but the the Audit Scotland reports on the SIC governance and financial management as reported in the local news does not paint a damning picture. It might mention room for improvements etc., but hardly incompetence and greed.

 

On the other matter, 3 jobs as declared, don't forget the [:sheep]  :rolleyes: and yes, unchallenged incumbent, hopefully get a few options next time.

 

Statutory regulators and Councils all obey the same paymaster, the government. What the regulator does or does not rail against is dictated by the political perceptions of the government of the day and the regulator's desire to justify its own existence.

 

A point very ably and repeatedly demonstrated by the SCT and OSCR in recent years - When they were doing what Holyrood didn't like, the OSCR was all over them like a bad smell threatening all sorts, but when disquiet over the SCT's governance model is expressed by a sizeable chunk of Shetland's population, they avoid it like the plague.

 

The other matter. Yes, I have no reason to believe the individual is doing anything other than what is perfectly legal and above board, his reputation of how important it is to 'play by the rules' precedes him.

 

Ethically, maybe not so much. When a Councillor is moonlighting serving Court Summonses in return for payment, on behalf of the Council they serve on, on residents living in Council houses in the Ward they represent, concerning their Council House tenancies, while also serving as an office bearer on that Council's Scrutiny Committee, and serving as that Council's Housing spokesperson, its far, far too many hats for one person to wear at one time and keep them all on straight all the time.

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I'm not saying things are perfect, but the the Audit Scotland reports on the SIC governance and financial management as reported in the local news does not paint a damning picture. It might mention room for improvements etc., but hardly incompetence and greed.

 

On the other matter, 3 jobs as declared, don't forget the [:sheep]  :rolleyes: and yes, unchallenged incumbent, hopefully get a few options next time.

 

Statutory regulators and Councils all obey the same paymaster, the government. What the regulator does or does not rail against is dictated by the political perceptions of the government of the day and the regulator's desire to justify its own existence.

 

A point very ably and repeatedly demonstrated by the SCT and OSCR in recent years - When they were doing what Holyrood didn't like, the OSCR was all over them like a bad smell threatening all sorts, but when disquiet over the SCT's governance model is expressed by a sizeable chunk of Shetland's population, they avoid it like the plague.

 

The other matter. Yes, I have no reason to believe the individual is doing anything other than what is perfectly legal and above board, his reputation of how important it is to 'play by the rules' precedes him.

 

Ethically, maybe not so much. When a Councillor is moonlighting serving Court Summonses in return for payment, on behalf of the Council they serve on, on residents living in Council houses in the Ward they represent, concerning their Council House tenancies, while also serving as an office bearer on that Council's Scrutiny Committee, and serving as that Council's Housing spokesperson, its far, far too many hats for one person to wear at one time and keep them all on straight all the time.

 

 

To stop Councillors "moonlighting" - or as the rest of us calling "make a living" they need to be paid enough to make it a full time job.  This would attract a far higher quality of Councillor thus the public benefiting.

 

Or in theory anyway!! 

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^ No argument with any of that.

 

I'm not against Councillors moonlighting per se, if they're doing their job as a Councillor adequately and have time and opportunity to secure and maintain additional income streams, the best of luck to them and let them get on with it.

 

What does rile me, and what is going on with this individual, is that he is moonlighting in an area where he is undertaking work on bahalf of the Council and being paid for it, and on account of the positions he holds in the Council, is well placed, should he be so inclined, to directly influence Council business is such a way as increase/maximise the level of payment he is able to earn from that work on behalf of the Council.

 

Council employees are barred from becoming Councillors for the very obvious and good reason that their personal interests are in direct conflict with the role of office. Simply being employed by a contractor actng on behalf of the Council does not necessarily diminish that conflict, especially in the small and specialist field this individual has chosen.

 

At the very least to maintain any sort of ethical high ground whenever any issue involving the Council possibly taking legal action against anyone is about to be discussed, this individual would need to declare a possible interest and remove himself from the discussion. I am not aware of this ever having happened, and if it has, or does in the future, it IMHO renders him largely impotent in SIC scrutiny matters, and therefore unsuitable to serve on that committee, let alone Chair it.

 

Regardless how you try to look at it there is far too much control and influence linked to one person, who is also someone who has the opportunity to benefit finiancially from how that control and influence is exercised. To be beyond criticism and reproach any Councillor engaging in moonlighting, that moonlighting either needs to be entirely unconnected and unrelated to any aspect of the Councilor role, of then they need to refrain from accepting Councillor roles that are potentially influential on their paid employment.

 

If an owner or employee of licensed premises was a Councillor and also serving on the Licensing Board, or a property developer, builder etc was a Councillor and then appointed to the Planning Committee, no-one would ever hear the end of it. I really don't see how a Councillor who also gets paid to serve Court Summonses for the Council, especially when it comes to serving them on tenants of Council houses in the Ward they themselves are suppoedly representing, is in any way less problematic.

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Statutory regulators and Councils all obey the same paymaster, the government. What the regulator does or does not rail against is dictated by the political perceptions of the government of the day and the regulator's desire to justify its own existence.

 

A point very ably and repeatedly demonstrated by the SCT and OSCR in recent years - When they were doing what Holyrood didn't like, the OSCR was all over them like a bad smell threatening all sorts, but when disquiet over the SCT's governance model is expressed by a sizeable chunk of Shetland's population, they avoid it like the plague.

 

 

I agree. The SCT - OSCR thing was frustrating to watch. But also isn't all this just the norm. Behavioral and political bias - influences/ pressures from above/ government etc. It shouldn't happen, it should be nonpartisan, but sadly it does happen whether we like it or not. We just have to protest when we don't like it.

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Statutory regulators and Councils all obey the same paymaster, the government. What the regulator does or does not rail against is dictated by the political perceptions of the government of the day and the regulator's desire to justify its own existence.

 

A point very ably and repeatedly demonstrated by the SCT and OSCR in recent years - When they were doing what Holyrood didn't like, the OSCR was all over them like a bad smell threatening all sorts, but when disquiet over the SCT's governance model is expressed by a sizeable chunk of Shetland's population, they avoid it like the plague.

 

 

I agree. The SCT - OSCR thing was frustrating to watch. But also isn't all this just the norm. Behavioral and political bias - influences/ pressures from above/ government etc. It shouldn't happen, it should be nonpartisan, but sadly it does happen whether we like it or not. We just have to protest when we don't like it.

 

It appears that there is a suggestion that Holyrood should be nonpartisan in their behaviour and bias. If that were to ever happen it would certainly be a bit of a surprise. After all, Westminster has never been in any way nonpartisan. Unfortunately, Westminster has a lot of control over Holyrood, power even, repulsive as it sounds.

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No it was a suggestion that bias is just the norm. To be expected. It's politics, obviously. No use complaining about the outcome of Audit Scotland reports or OSCR decisions because you think they are having their strings pulled by the powers that be. If you don't like it or see wrong doing, make a complaint. I do, I'm a terrible bloody whinger for what it's worth ☺️

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