Tavish Scott accused of interfering in £30M planning process

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Controversial ex Shetland Islands chief executive David Clark has sensationally accused Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott of trying to influence the outcome of a £30million planning application in Shetland.

Mr Clark, who recently resigned from his £100,000 a year council post, claims that the Lib Dem MSP sent him a private email on the matter last December and tried to persuade him to order a special planning meeting to ensure the plans would be approved by councillors….


Controversial ex Shetland Islands chief executive David Clark has sensationally accused Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott of trying to influence the outcome of a £30million planning application in Shetland.

Mr Clark, who recently resigned from his £100,000 a year council post, claims that the Lib Dem MSP sent him a private email on the matter last December and tried to persuade him to order a special planning meeting to ensure the plans would be approved by councillors.

Mr Clark, who received a £285,000 payoff despite only being in the job for nine months, said Mr Scott tried to “interfere inappropriately” with the planning process. 

Mr Clark said:
“The planning department did not believe satisfactory plans had been produced to take a decision on the development

“The construction company, it would appear, contacted Tavish Scott and explained that if they did not get the contract they would go into receivership.

“Tavish Scott contacted me by e-mail, expecting me to push through a meeting so it could be approved.

“I refused to do it and got a very stroppy e-mail from him making it quite clear that the previous chief executive would have been prepared to dance to his tune and he was not happy.”

He claimed the Lib Dem leader became “very agitated” but said he was determined to stand by the position that chief executives must not get involved with planning applications.

The development between Upper Scalloway and Utnabrake included 100 houses, a health centre and business park and was to be collaboration between Hjaltland Housing Association and building firm JHB Ltd.

JHB Ltd subsequently went into liquidation with debts of more than £459,000.  JHB admitted it was having problems as application issues led to delays in work getting started.  In February it emerged JHB was being pursued by the tax man for £228,634 in unpaid taxes and national insurance.

Tavish Scott said:
“I am interested in the future of Shetland recovering after a truly awful year. As the local MSP I have always put people first and I have no intention of changing that.”

Mr Clark is to give evidence at a two-day Accounts Commission inquiry into the affairs of Shetland Council and his tenure as the top official.

Orkney and Shetland Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael and Mr Scott reported the former chief executive to the watchdog because they were concerned about the way he had treated the council’s assistant chief executive, Willie Shannon.

In December 2007 former Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen accused First Minister Alex Salmond of “concealment” over the Trump planning application insisting it ‘smelled of sleaze’.  The claims of ministerial impropriety were subsequently found to have been baseless and Mr Stephen resigned as Lib Dem leader not long after.