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Iris Hawkins resigns to be wed

Councillor Iris Hawkins

ONE OF Shetland’s most senior councillors, Iris Hawkins, has announced her surprise resignation at the end of this week ahead of her marriage to the new love of her life.

Mrs Hawkins is to marry Magnus Hughson, the brother of her fellow Shetland central councillor Andrew Hughson.

At lunchtime on Tuesday Mrs Hawkins, who chairs the council’s environment and transport committee and the Shetland transport partnership ZetTrans, announced that  she will be standing down as councillor at the end of this week.

She said that she had decided to give up public life ahead of her wedding at Scalloway Methodist Church on 4 October and she wants to enjoy married life without the responsibility of representing the public.

A by election is likely to be held in early December to fill the post, though the new councillor will have to face re-election next May.

Mrs Hawkins has been a stalwart councillor for her home village of Scalloway, which she has represented since 1994, fighting to protect jobs and services during a difficult period for the area.

Following political reorganisation in 2007 she became a representative of Shetland Central alongside Andrew Hughson and Betty Fullerton.

She became chairman of the SIC’s infrastructure committee and ZetTrans after Allan Wishart resigned to co-ordinate the Viking Energy wind farm project, and was elected to chair the new environment and transport committee when it was created this year.

Her parochial interests sometimes clashed with the call for a more corporate approach to council decision making following last year’s highly critical report from local government watchdog The Accounts Commission.

That conflict rose to the surface when she fought hard against council policy to close Scalloway secondary department last December.

This week she says she is glad to be leaving public life behind to concentrate on enjoying herself with her new partner.

“I have been thinking about it for a month or two, but Magnus is moving to Shetland and I don’t want him sitting around here while I am working.

“We want to enjoy our retirement together, have time for ourselves and go where we want when we want without worrying about doing my duty,” she said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed representing the people of Scalloway, and latterly constituents in the Central ward over the years, and I wish my successor every success in this rewarding role.

“I have found it personally greatly satisfying to be able to help individuals with their day to day problems and concerns, as well as the Shetland wide work I have been involved in as a councillor.”

Mr Hughson left Shetland 42 years ago to work as a shepherd on the Scottish mainland and for the past 10 years he has been a yardsman at the United Auctions in Stirling. He was widowed eight years ago.

He said: “I never wanted to come back to Shetland but a lovely lady has dragged me back here and I am really looking forward to it.”

Mrs Hawkins will also be giving up her seat on Scalloway community council and Scalloway Waterfront Trust, as well as the chair of the NAFC Marine centre board of directors.

Council leader Josie Simpson praised Mrs Hawkins for the “tremendous job” she had done for her ward over the past 17 years.

“She has faithfully represented her constituents while taking a very senior role in the council, latterly as chair of the environment and transport committee.  We wish her all the best and congratulate her on her forthcoming marriage,” he said.