For over 35 years I have lived in Shetland, the last 25 years in the Lerwick South ward. I am a retired teacher, having taught in Foula and Ollaberry.
Throughout my time in Shetland I have been involved with many local voluntary organisations including Hjaltland Housing Association, Tangwick Haa Museum and the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
I am currently secretary of The Swan Trust and chairman of Sail Training Shetland, a local charity offering young people the opportunity to participate in Tall Ships Races and similar events.
The new Council to be elected on 3 May must quickly gain the trust of the electorate and overcome the negative views which many people hold of the outgoing Council.
The new Council must be positive when it comes to making the decisions which are necessary for the whole of Shetland and which will have a lasting impact for years to come. These decisions must not be rushed into, but require to be given serious consideration and it is essential that the proposed slashing of the Council’s budget be re-visited.
The Council’s finances require to be put in order, but this cannot be done without consideration being given to the impact of budget cuts on Council provided services and the local economy.
Shetland is right to be proud of the level of provision which it has for the services for the elderly and disadvantaged, but some of these services are now in danger of being discontinued.
It is essential that the high standards which have been achieved are maintained and that the proposal to close the Freefield Centre is rejected.
It is time for the Council to look at innovative methods of service provision and to consider entering into partnerships with the voluntary sector to ensure that high standards of provision are maintained.
The greatest asset which Shetland has is its young people. It is therefore essential that the high standards which are being achieved in pre-school, primary school and secondary school education are maintained, so that every child and young person in the community is able to develop to their full potential.
The successful work of Shetland College in Lerwick and NAFC in Scalloway must be allowed to continue. A decision must be taken quickly about the new Anderson High School and plans be put in place for a new primary school for Lerwick.
The housing shortage throughout Shetland requires to be addressed. Hjaltland Housing Association and the Council together have been successful in building social housing, but the waiting lists remain far too long.
Pressure requires to be exerted on the Scottish Government to ensure that additional funding can be released so that more houses can be built. Innovative ways of addressing housing requirements in the rural parts of Shetland need to be considered.
The Council is a very important player in the local economy and its decisions have an impact on the whole community. While Shetland is fortunate in having a low level of unemployment, the economy remains fragile and the Council should be very careful when implementing policies, to ensure that they do not have a negative impact.
It is important that local industry is supported where necessary and that business development and the creation of small, new businesses are encouraged. With a high proportion of Shetland school-leavers entering higher education, the Council should encourage the creation of jobs which will attract highly skilled young people home to Shetland.
The proposed reductions in the Council’s budget must be re-visited. While savings in expenditure are necessary, the proposals are too severe and will only lead to unemployment and the closing of local businesses.
Because of the influential position of the Council in the local economy, it is essential that the impact of any expenditure reductions are carefully considered before any budget cuts are implemented. The budget must be controlled, but it must be done with care and consideration.
The Council is uniquely placed to enter into partnerships with other organisations for the benefit of the whole of Shetland. Already partnerships and understandings exist, but these must be developed with NHS Shetland, Hjaltland Housing Association, Voluntary Action Shetland and any other organisation which can work together with the Council to maintain and improve the quality of services available to the people of Shetland.
The contribution which Shetland makes to the Scottish and UK economies must be recognised and the Council must have a strong voice to make Shetland’s case in Edinburgh, Westminster and Brussels, when there are decisions being taken which will directly or indirectly affect Shetland.
Having spent almost my entire life in island and rural areas, with the exception of the years spent studying at Aberdeen University, and over 35 years in Shetland, I have a good understanding of the needs of our community and believe that I would be a suitable person to be elected to represent you as a councillor for Lerwick South (including Gulberwick).
If elected, I will listen carefully to the views of the electorate and take the issues to the Council Chamber or relevant Council department for resolution.
Please, Vote 1 for Peter Campbell in the election on 3 May.
Phone 01595 695 193
Mobile 07768 481 726
If you require transport on 3 May to take you to the polling station, please contact me.