I was born in Lerwick in 1954 and have lived and worked in Shetland all my life. I am married to Linda, we have three grown up children and a grandson and we have lived in Quarff since 1993.
In my younger days I worked in the building trade, as well as the Nature Conservancy Council (now Scottish Natural Heritage) as a summer warden. I also spent a couple of winters as a fisherman at the whitefish seine net and pelagic purse net.
Following on from that I worked for 22 years with BP at Sullom Voe, beginning as a jetty operator and ending my time on site as a Shift Team Leader. During those years I covered every aspect of the site including power generation and operations. For the past five years I have worked as a freelance photographer.
From early 2008 I have chaired a community group called Sustainable Shetland, which now has over 800 members. It grew out of opposition to the proposed Viking Energy wind farm and aspires to achieving a sustainable, environmentally sympathetic future for Shetland.
If elected I would stand down from the group, my opposition to Viking Energy would not change, but the wind farm is only one issue of many facing us. I have concerns with all of them and welcome you to contact me on your particular issues.
If elected I would…..
- ensure fairness and high standards in education, health and social care;
- support the best provision for pensioners and the less able;
- seek ways to achieve parity with mainland fuel prices for the islands;
- investigate ways to improve public transport provision;
- promote environmentally sympathetic energy policies……. renewables for Shetland not for the central belt of Scotland;
- encourage the council to lobby for improvements to Aberdeen harbour, to maintain our lifeline service;
- pursue a change in mindset, forming a partnership between the public and the council, less aspirational, more practical needs.
Over the past 25 to 30 years Shetland has enjoyed an unprecedented level of spend, not all of it wise and some of it no longer affordable – there is a need to do it more prudently.
Firstly, this must come from within – council affairs must be run as efficiently as possible, only then would they deserve the right and the public trust to impose cuts in other areas.
I do not agree with penny pinching cuts to frontline services affecting the most vulnerable members of society, while in some departments we still maintain a budget level which is inappropriate given the public sector cuts proposed.
We are still a well off authority, Inverness based economist Tony MacKay predicts 6.4% growth in Shetland over the next three years, mainly due to West of Shetland oil and gas.
Add to this our seafood and crofting industries, with fishing and seafood alone worth £300 million per annum to the Shetland economy. A better deal within the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies should be lobbied for, along with improvements to Aberdeen harbour to secure our lifeline service and ensure continuity of supply to established markets.
The council mindset must change back to what local authorities are supposed to do, namely looking after the public and providing services efficiently and to the best quality.
We have lost our way in this, moving into a corporate mindset since becoming oil rich. Council investment in local business for growth and employment is something we can afford, but it must be done more prudently.
There is a view for this new council to ‘hit the ground running’, that is a laudable sentiment. However any hasty decisions could mean costly moves in the wrong direction. The signposts left by the previous council are not necessarily for following.
My position as a councillor would always be to represent my constituents’ views and address any concerns they may have. However I would also consider the needs of Shetland as a whole.
What goes on in the north can affect the south and vice versa, no community can be insular. If the economy of Shetland suffers then it is likely the rural areas will be hit first.
There is a worrying trend towards centralisation; our housing crisis is exacerbated because so much demand is for the Lerwick area. With improved broadband and transport links we should investigate decentralising as much as possible.
With regard to the specific needs of the south mainland I have some learning to do, not least for the unique requirements of the Fair Isle.
I have a good understanding of the oil industry in Shetland and the implications for future development. I also have a good understanding of the fishing industry and a particular interest there.
I will hold my hand up and admit to a lack of experience in crofting and agriculture. What I will say is that I am a good listener. My working experience has taught me that the folk on the ground are invariably best at understanding the problems of their industry.
I have always had a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, I have a deep rooted love for Shetland and the quality of life it offers, it is something we should not take for granted. If you vote for me then what you see is what you get, I have no hidden agenda, for example, my opposition to the Viking Energy wind farm is no secret.
If a difficult decision needs to be taken I would not shy from it and would be answerable for the consequences. Likewise, I would not hold with any decisions which have not been scrutinised and justified to the nth degree. Blinkered decision making is also not in my remit, the bigger picture and broader community must always be considered.
I have not set out a ten point master plan because I do not have one, it would be presumptuous. There are council reports and folk to consult on all the issues, the level of detail must be studied and questioned before decided upon.
What I can say is that I do have core principles which hopefully you can see. These I will apply in every decision I make, in conjunction with your concerns and hopefully a ‘grain o common sense’.
If you can see these values in me then I would ask for your number 1 vote on 3 May
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