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Shetland College chairman stands down

Andrew Hughson

SHETLAND councillor Andrew Hughson has resigned as chairman of Shetland College’s board of management prior to standing down from the council next year.

Mr Hughson, who was elected in 1997 to represent Shetland Central, said that working for the college had been a “sanctuary” during the past two years when Shetland Islands Council has been through some of its darkest days.

However he said he has fulfilled his commitment to be chairman for four years and feels it is the right time to pass the mantle onto another councillor who might wish to hold onto the position if re-elected in 2012.

The keen crofter and musician from Girlsta was voted onto the SIC after airing strong criticisms over the way the previous administration had operated under chief executive Morgan Goodlad.

However after four years in post, Mr Hughson said that he had become “disillusioned” and had no desire to stand for election again.

He was one of a handful of councillors who went public in their opposition to the way Mr Goodlad’s successor Dave Clark ran the council in 2009 and has clearly remained frustrated, despite the implementation of an improvement plan under the latest chief executive Alistair Buchan following the Accounts Commission’s own criticisms of the authority last year.

He said his involvement in the college was one bright spot on an otherwise dark horizon.

“During the bleakest of times there was always something lovely going on at the college and it became my sanctuary. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s a marvellous place and I do hope that whoever comes after me enjoys it as much as I do.

“My reason for leaving is that I have decided not to stand at the next election. I have been disillusioned and I have business plans. I am not ready for the grave yet and there is more to life than the council.”

“I’ve also fulfilled my commitment that I made to take on the four year appointment and this will allow someone with an interest in the college to have a year to see if they like it, and if they do they can hit the ground running next year.”

The college has been through many changes during Mr Hughson’s tenure, having recovered from a highly critical HMIE inspectors report in 2005. Only last month the board heard that HMIE had confidence in all aspects of the college’s work after a full inspection in March.

Mr Hughson was full of praise for the energy and hard work of former director George Smith, under whom the college raised the cash for a £4.5 million extension which should be going out to tender this summer.

Mr Smith left his post last year and in February the director of the NAFC Marine Centre David Gray was appointed to jointly manage both colleges. Mr Hughson said he would be an asset to the institution.

In March the 57 year old had accepted the invitation from his colleagues to carry on chairing the college board, but at last month’s meeting when fellow members congratulated him on the latest positive report from HMIE he decided it was a good time to call it a day.

“I feel that I am leaving the college in a better state than when I came there and I think that is a good note to leave on,” he said.

“I see it going from strength to strength and it will be exciting when the extension is built. It will give it more of a campus feel and it will become even more attractive to students in Shetland.”

North Isles member Laura Baisley is vice chairman of the board.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021