I’m 43 years old and married with pre-school and school-age children. I was born in Lerwick and brought up in Weisdale where my family still run the local shop and Post Office.
I was educated in Shetland at Whiteness Primary School, Scalloway Junior High School and the Anderson High School, before going on to study at Inverness College.
I’ve worked for the Shetland Recreational Trust for the last 10 years and I’m a member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity. Prior to this I worked as a service manager for office equipment firms and as a financial adviser in Orkney where I lived from 1989 to 1996.
My long standing interest in Politics and Local Government has seen me contest the Shetland seat for the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and the council election in 2003. In May 2007 I was elected as a member for Shetland West.
I served on the Tingwall, Whiteness & Weisdale Community Council as a member for Weisdale. I’ve also been an ex-officio member of all three Westside community councils for the last five years and I recognise and support the important role they play in their respective communities.
Some people have said that the new council needs vision. From my perspective no council in recent years has lacked vision. Vision combined with unbridled enthusiasm has given us the Bressay Bridge fiasco, various aquaculture disasters and Mareel to name but a few. The new council must, above all else, balance its books and learn to live within its means.
If re-elected I will:
Seek the best care for our elderly and vulnerable
The outgoing leadership’s cuts hit the old, the young and those living in rural areas hardest. The budget must be revisited early in the new council to redress the balance;
Work to put an end to the crippling financial losses
The council has lost around £70m over the last ten years in aborted projects and high-risk loans to businesses. I proposed what became the “gateway” approach to new capital projects and supported other measures that should put an end to such senseless waste.
The council’s financial crisis cannot be underestimated. Resources must be directed to vital front line services – care, education, housing, transport, etc. before vanity projects and risky loans.
Campaign to keep democratic control of the Charitable Trust
I think most people understand when they elect a councillor that he or she will also serve on the Charitable Trust. This is likely to be the last time it happens this way. There’s currently a proposal to appoint eight trustees with a further seven to be nominated by the SIC.
I’d prefer to see a majority of independent trustees – provided that they were directly elected – sitting alongside a minority of councillors. This would satisfy the regulator, ensure democratic accountability and maintain important links with the council.
Keep asking the questions you want answered
The Viking Energy project owned by the Shetland Charitable Trust is too big – both in terms of its physical size and the scale of the risk to the trust. The Shetland Charitable Trust must recognise that its obligation to the community goes beyond money.
Continue to safeguard our rural education system
We must recognise and support the achievement of pupils and staff at Aith JHS who gained some of the best exam results in the country. I stand on my track record of supporting schools in the Shetland West ward.
As chairman of the Shetland Childcare Partnership, I’ve worked to bring about a new strategy which recognises the importance of good childcare especially in rural areas. It should deliver much needed childcare places across the isles.
Endeavour to reduce our housing waiting list
The shortage of housing in the isles must be tackled by any means at our disposal. I have supported the council’s innovative partnership with Hjaltland Housing Association to deliver more new homes like those completed in Aith last year. New-build in Lerwick must be matched in rural areas such as Walls and Aith where demand is strong.
I also support Allison (Da Flea) Duncan’s efforts to have our crippling housing debt paid off by the Westminster Government.
Encourage more people to live and work in rural areas
This council has progressed towards a jobs dispersal policy that will allow more SIC workers to work from home or rural hubs if they wish. Combined with improvements in broadband and mobile phone coverage this should open up new opportunities for other agencies and businesses too. Rural areas are the key to taking Shetland’s economy forward.
Maintain and improve roads and public transport
Good public transport and roads are essential for our rural way of life. The new road is currently being built into Aith complete with a 400m extension that I supported. Other road schemes on the west side are at an advanced stage. I will fight to keep these vital projects on track. Ferry and air links are crucial for Foula and Papa Stour. I’ll continue to support these services.
Deliver better broadband and mobile phone coverage
As a member of the Shetland Telecom working group I’ve helped to deliver a scheme that will see superfast broadband rolled out across Shetland in the next 3–4 years. Described as a ‘transformational project’ this will pave the way for improved mobile phone coverage too. I need your support to see this project through.
Seek a fair deal on fuel
I won the unanimous support of the council for my motion supporting our MP and MSP’s call for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate high fuel prices. I will continue to work with other elected representatives to get a fair deal for motorists as well as domestic heating fuel users. There is no justification that I can see for the massive price differential between Shetland and the mainland.
Represent you first and foremost
Standing as an Independent Candidate with five years experience of being a councillor, I believe that I am best placed to represent you in the Shetland Islands Council. If re-elected I will speak up for what I believe in and I pledge to continue to listen to you and fight your corner.
I hope to speak to as many people as possible between now and 3 May. However with a large area to cover it will be impossible to meet everyone.
If I don’t see you and there’s an issue that you’d like to discuss with me or you would like to put your point of view, please contact me by one of the methods noted below.
Mail 17 Burnside, Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0QH
Phone 01595 692158
Mobile 07766 812142