I was born in 1954 in Perthshire, went to school there and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art for five years. I came to Shetland in 1983 and have lived in Scalloway ever since.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this. Whether we live in Scalloway, Tingwall, Burra or other parts of the Central Ward, I believe that most of us face similar problems, and those problems stem directly from our Council’s determination to introduce swingeing cuts in its delivery of service.
This is the overwhelming issue that confronts us today. This takes money – we have money. We need to spend it if we are going to prosper. We saw what happened in the 1980s and ‘90s, enormous amounts of oil revenues flowing into the Government’s coffers, but cynically used to create an industrial and economic desert.
We need to give our people secure employment, decent wages, and good working conditions and in this way we fashion a prosperous community. Our oil revenues are precisely for this kind of crisis, a buffer to protect us from Westminster’s savagery.
• I am asking the honest liberal voters who have been betrayed by their leaders,
• I am asking the labour voters who also feel deceived, and
• I am asking the SNP voters to join in the fight against the Westminster coalition.
If we recognise our own objective interests, I am sure we can all weather the storm.
So that’s really the way I see it:
• we can deny the importance of politics in local government until we are blue in the face;
• we can listen to our highly paid non-elected officials telling us there is no alternative, and
• we can listen to our politicians saying that we are all in it together, pretending to be in any way concerned by the consequences of their vandalism.
• Our schools are at risk; after the Scalloway secondary’s closure what chance the survival of the Hamnavoe and Tingwall schools.
• Our services for the elderly are at risk – the proposed review of the services at Freefield is just a taste of things to come.
• Our services for the more vulnerable are at risk, and we can only guess what will happen to our road gritting services during the winter.
Everywhere we look we are told there are no alternatives to the cuts. I say there is.
Our oil revenues are the envy of every local authority in Scotland and as such they must be used to protect our services and our jobs – essentially protecting our futures.
The very people who are pushing this agenda are merely pushing their own political agenda.
Of course local issues have to be addressed, but unquestionably it is our economic health that determines our approach.
Just for starters I propose that we create a sustained house building programme, decent houses for our people with decent gardens. This would presuppose an SIC led apprenticeship scheme to give our young people, not only the skills they need, but also the houses they need to live in.
Or we can say ‘No!’ – enough is enough. With careful and sensible use of our oil revenues we can certainly maintain the communities that we are so rightfully proud of.
There are many areas in which we can invest our funds – for instance a greater development in child care – the list is endless.
In conclusion I will say this:
• I have no axe to grind;
• I have no business to promote;
• I am not in the pay of any particular interest or lobby.
With all the above in mind I do believe that there is a fairer more inclusive way to a prosperous Shetland.
Once again I thank you for taking the time to read this.
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