I have resided in Sandness since February 2011, but prior to that I lived in Westerloch Crescent, Lerwick for 37 years so I am very familiar with the Lerwick South area.
I was born and brought up in Levenwick and have lived in Shetland for most of my life. Following a career in the Merchant Navy, I served both in Shetland and Orkney as a Police officer before moving into the private sector where I successfully operated firstly a car hire business then a picture framing business.
It has been a privilege to represent and serve our community since I was successfully elected to Shetland Islands Council in 2007.
I have served on a number of committees and was chair of the licensing board until the Council restructuring in May 2011 when I was appointed to, and currently serve as, Chair of the Social Services Committee. I also chair the Joint Integration Board of Shetland NHS and Shetland Islands Council.
Budgets and Reserve Fund
With a budget strategy and policy now in place there is a better understanding for both officers and members that going over budget is no longer acceptable. The present Council has made a decision to reduce the draw on the reserve fund to balance the books. If re-elected I will fight to maintain that decision. We have a duty to build our reserves for future generations.
The decision to change the governance of the Trust was inevitable due to change in legislation. I have no problem with the new format providing the funds are used sensibly for the benefit of our community. The new trustees should be elected and must have Shetland within their hearts.
Services for the Vulnerable and Elderly
Although it has been necessary to make financial savings I am determined that it will have the least effect on these people. There may have to be some changes in the way that services are delivered but a decision on this still has to be made.
Those who require care will continue to get that service. During my time as Chair of Social Services I have pushed for the extension to join Edward Thomason House and Taing House which will enhance both these buildings and make for a better caring and working environment. Work should commence on this project in late summer this year. I see the building of the new Eric Gray Centre as a priority.
This is another challenge that we face. It is expensive to deliver education within our community. A complete review of education as a whole is essential.
In Lerwick we require a new primary school to replace Bell’s Brae and, if re-elected, I would start that campaign as I now know from experience that it takes a number of years to plan such a large project.
It is important that the Council supports wrap round child care throughout Shetland and by doing so my view is that this would reduce the placement requests in Lerwick.
I am keen to see the new Anderson High School built and hope that can be done in the time of the next Council. It is vital that we continue to support the ASN departments within our schools as this is an important part of the high quality of education provided in Shetland.
There is no question that this is a challenge for the Council. External funding has been reduced but I will endeavor to encourage partnership working to keep house-building a priority and push for more smaller units to meet local people’s needs.
I believe that Shetland should encourage this type of developments however I would like to see more importance put on wave and tidal power. I do not think that we need to decorate Shetland’s beautiful landscape with wind turbines. There has to be a guaranteed financial benefit to our community before such projects are considered.
I know that, like me, you are disappointed that the through road has not progressed as expected but I will continue to work towards a successful outcome. I was, however, successful in getting the works completed at Heathery Park. Community discussions are important in the proposed new development.
We need to move ahead with our internal transport links. There is no question in my mind that fixed links are the way forward allowing the residents of the most populated isles freedom of travel.
Our external links (lifeline service) is an insult to our community. It is too expensive to use and is preventing our industries from developing. The present SNP government does not have the interest of our islands at heart. We only need to see the treatment that we have recently received during the vessels refit programme. I will work to have an improved service.
Recent decisions made when setting the budgets for the next two years were, in my mind, correct. However, if we need to spread the recovery time over a slightly longer period I would agree to that.
I don’t want to see our economy crippled but, with reduced income, we cannot continue operating in the same manner as previous councils.
Shetland is not facing a crisis but we do have challenges ahead. By being sensible, cautious and understanding we can grow our economy again. Fishing, Aquaculture, Crofting and Tourism all form a significant part of the Shetland economy as does the private sector industries and these have to be supported and protected.
I have been honoured and privileged to have represented the Lerwick South Ward and the wider Shetland community these last five years. I have been open and honest at all times. I have supported both staff and members through some very difficult times.
It is important that constituents feel that they can contact me at any time knowing that I will deal with their issues confidentially.
Although I have not agreed with all the decisions that have been taken in the Council chamber I accept and respect the views of individuals and I accept democracy. I’m a strong believer that the debate should end in the chamber.
I am very supportive of all the voluntary groups. Gulberwick Together does sterling work in their community. I look forward to seeing the benefits that Sound Choices will bring to that area.
I intend to propose a voucher system to offer support with fuel costs.
To be effective a Council must work as a team. Continuity is required within the next Council to move forward the good work already achieved. Strong leadership qualities are important. If re-elected I am confident that I could bring all those qualities to the Council chamber.
Thank you for reading this and please give me your No 1 vote on 3 May.
Phone 01595 870702
Should you require assistance with transport on 3 May 2012 please contact me.