• Many Shetland people have lost faith in the ability of the council to make sound decisions and manage the islanders’ remaining oil money. If you elect me then I will work hard with my fellow councillors to improve the council’s decision-making processes, financial controls and restore people’s confidence in the council.
• There must be no more waste of valuable resources. Properly informed decisions on capital expenditure must be taken and adhered to. There must be no more dithering.
• The new council has to distinguish between the projects which are ‘necessary’ for the sustainability of Shetland and those which are simply ‘desirable’.
• The Blueprint for Education is to be refreshed. This will inevitably throw up uncomfortable decisions for the new council. I believe that decisions made must enable the schools service to enter a settled period to deliver good education and to proceed urgently with the building of the new Anderson High School.
• Innovative ways of resourcing affordable housing must be found.
• The cutbacks proposed by the out-going council – in my view over-severe – will need to be revisited by the new council in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Services for the elderly – care centres, day care provision, ‘meals on wheels’, lunch clubs etc. are vital to the quality of life of our older people. If the proposed cuts result in job losses, then this affects our economy and people may leave Shetland as a result.
• A broad spectrum of support for future economic development is key to our success. Benefit from the capture of our natural resources – wave, wind, tidal – is important. People must decide if they wish to embrace the principles of renewable energy and the resulting revenue and jobs.
“The newly elected members will need to set priorities early in the life of the new council”
I came to Shetland six years ago to work as a minister in the Westside. I wish I had come sooner. My wife Marian and I have rekindled our love for Shetland – we both have connections going back many years – and we were made very welcome in the Westside.
As a parish minister I have always involved myself in the local community. In Ayrshire I worked alongside local authority officers to establish a community centre and environmental projects in my parish.
I also served on committees nationally on the Board of Social Responsibility of the Church of Scotland: elderly care, drug and alcohol addiction. I am involved in Inter Faith and equality issues, both locally and nationally.
“Shetland must try harder to help disadvantaged people within the community.”
As part of my work in Paisley I was deeply involved in two projects in socially deprived areas: one helping women to reach their full potential in education and work, the other supporting disadvantaged young people.
Part of this work involved working with other agencies and the local council and sourcing funding from government and major charities. I will continue to support these sorts of initiatives in Shetland so that we can make the most of everybody’s talents and abilities.
“Shetland’s youth is its future and we must do everything we can to encourage young people to play an active role in the community.”
Working with Voluntary Action Shetland and the Rotary Club of Shetland I am proud to have been one of the founders of the Shetland Youth Volunteering Awards. The aim of these awards is to acknowledge the work of young volunteers and to encourage them to adopt volunteering as a life- long experience.
“The council must communicate better with the people of Shetland.”
Working in the Westside, I have come to appreciate the value of the distinct communities and their needs. Working in a remote rural setting is a challenge and I have learned a lot. I initiated with others the Westside News community newspaper which reflects the range of community activities in the west of Shetland.
More recently I have served as a member of the SIC Education and Families Committee.
“I would like the opportunity to serve you in the Westside”
In the West
• There is a growing need to look at the completion of a two-lane road to the far west. This is important for economic development, with the salmon and mussel farms and the mill, as well as the work of the crofting community. Safety is also a concern in parts of the road network, particularly with children walking or travelling to school.
• The high quality of education in local schools must be continued and schools should be maintained within their natural communities.
• Local shops must be supported and encouraged to thrive.
• In the light of possible cutbacks, attention must be given to the ongoing care of the elderly in their own homes, day care and at Wastview as a matter of priority.
• Provision and support for young people’s activities and informal education is an important area of development.
• Community Councils need to be encouraged to respond to local issues, and if they feel so inclined or motivated, to do work for the council at local level.
• Communication between the elected councillors and the people is essential at all levels to build up trust and confidence.
• Affordable housing is needed in the west mainland.
“I will work with my elected colleagues to fulfil or progress these issues.”
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