PROMINENT local Liberal Democrat Theo Smith has declared his intention to stand for election to Shetland Islands Council as an independent councillor.
Living in Wormadale, Whiteness, the 59 year old said that if elected to represent the Shetland West ward he will resign as a partner in Lerwick-based PJP Architects to devote himself to his new role.
One of the few candidates so far to lay out his political stall, Mr Smith made it clear that he is not happy with current council policy and wants to see a change in direction from the deep spending cuts being implemented by outgoing councillors.
“I am very concerned about the size of the proposed cuts and the speed with which they are to be implemented,” he said.
“We are in danger of wrecking our economy and driving people from Shetland. I believe it would be better to draw prudently from our reserves in the short term in order to stabilise our economy now.
“What use is a huge reserve that leaves Shetland with a weak, fragile economy and a falling population?
“Whether we like to admit it or not, Shetland has come to rely on a council-run economy and that council now has a responsibility not to pull the rug from under it but try to support it over these testing times.”
He also does not like the new style cabinet structure of the council, calling for decisions to be made inside the council chamber and not by “the all powerful executive committee”.
He is calling for the politicians to “take control and provide strong, sensible leadership and show prudent fiscal responsibility”.
However he also bemoaned communities living in “a constant state of fear that the schools service is coming to close their school, necessitating their five year olds to be transported miles over single track roads that the council propose to grit less in winter!”
Other issues he is keen to get his teeth into are the proposed “semi quango” charitable trust, the stalled capital programme, the council buying in construction services from south, Viking Energy, tugs, Sullom Voe, school closures and “the embarrassing Haggersta to Cova road debacle”.
“If elected, I look forward to embracing the challenge, and working with any like-minded councillors to bring back stability and self respect to Shetland,” he said.
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