I moved to Shetland from the Scottish Highlands where I had been living for the previous three years in 1973, with my wife Sabina and our son Trystan. Our next child, Thor was born at home on the island of Papa Stour in September of that year.
Over the years my wife and I have made a life for ourselves on Papa Stour, raising three sons who have gone on to live and raise their own families in Shetland and Scotland.
We built our own house, developed the croft and carved out a niche for ourselves in Shetland. We ran the house as a guesthouse for 30 years and I have supplemented our income at various periods in the time-honoured fashion of initially machine knitting for the first three years, latterly living away for various periods in order to obtain work on the Shetland mainland, labouring and drystane dyking.
From 2003-2010 we ran the Papa Stour Project, a supported housing unit designed to give young men with addiction problems an opportunity to tackle the issues in their lives and begin to make choices leading to recovery and growth.
I have lived in remote communities for two thirds of my life and I feel passionately that the cuts agenda of the present council militates against the health and wellbeing of the Shetland community as a whole.
The inexorable bias towards ever increasing centralisation is bad for Shetland and I believe that it is the duty of the council to take the tough decisions necessary to counteract this centralising tendency.
While there is little to be gained by dwelling on the numerous unwise decisions made on our behalf by previous administrations we need to learn the lessons of misspending on failing industries, injunctions, expensive lawyers and consultants and move on.
The next council has to be able to take some serious decisions and for this courage is going to be needed and a degree of detachment from the pressure that membership of a small community like Shetland can sometimes bring.
I believe I am well placed to help in this process, being both part of the community here on the West Side while retaining a measure of detachment as an “incomer” to the islands.
It is essential for the life of the numerous small rural communities that make up the majority of Shetland that local schooling to primary level be maintained in the area.
Windfarms (Viking Energy) including environment, and economic future
The Viking Energy plan is on a scale unsuited to the Shetland environment and should not be embraced. Smaller scale, community based projects should be encouraged. The involvement of sitting councillors on the board of Viking Energy does not encourage faith in the project. Encouragement should be directed at wave and tidal power projects.
The trust needs to demonstrate clear blue water between it and the council. Trust money should be used for charitable purposes, meals for old folk etc, not capital projects and business ventures.
Standards in Public Life
Councillors and officials to read and then implement Nolan Report on standards in public life in council business.
Cuts (The Vulnerable)
Pain of cuts to be spread equitably – to whom much is given, much shall be required etc. Serious look at enormous level of public service provision including an opportunity for the voters to offer their own suggestions as to possible areas where savings could be made.
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