I was born on the Westside, qualified as an architect in Edinburgh, and have spent my working life in Shetland.
From 1975 till 1997 I served as Depute Director of Design and Technical Services responsible for all of the Council’s capital building works in Shetland. In this role I acquired a broad knowledge of Shetland’s infrastructure and an understanding of the communities’ needs.
I am standing as candidate for Shetland West where I have served as councillor since 2007 and previously as member for Sandness and Walls since 1999.
Having worked for the Council for over twenty years and now served as a councillor for the past twelve years I have gained a detailed knowledge of the working procedures and statutory operations of the Council.
During my twelve years in office I have been involved in the successful delivery of four major capital projects to the Westside: a two lane road from Parkhall to Murrister, Papa Stour and West Burrafirth ferry terminals, Foula Renewable Electricity Scheme and latterly the Bixter to Aith Phase 2 Road Improvement Works, bringing over £10 million pounds of investment into the area.
I am currently pressing for completion of works on the new Walls Pier and Breakwater. This important Marine and Ferry Development will bring a further £2.7 million investment in the Westside.
Given the opportunity I would strive for further longer term developments for the area, but bearing in mind the present economic climate it would be extremely rash to make promises which I could not keep.
During the past Council term I have served as Chair of the Planning Committee, determining planning issues and marine developments. I have also served as Chair of the Member Officer Road Working Group and as Chair of the Inter-island Air Service Working Group.
If elected I would work closely with the people of each area and bring their particular matters of concern to the Council.
Issues I have already identified and discussed with members of the public include:
Previous education reviews have been carried out which have threatened the smaller primary schools with closure, creating concern and uncertainty in the rural communities.
It is proposed that a further review of the Education Service will be undertaken by the new council with the main objective of making savings.
For me the delivery of education is of utmost importance. I would support the principle of Aith Junior High School remaining as the Main Hub for the delivery of the Scottish Government Curriculum of Excellence to Westside secondary pupils prior to moving to the High School.
I would strongly resist any further attempts to close the primary schools of Sandness, Happy Hansel and Skeld.
Care for the elderly
I was greatly involved in planning the first Respite Care Centres and in the management of property improvements to allow elderly persons to remain in their own homes. The whole concept of care for the elderly is an issue very close to my heart.
I support the Council’s long term plans for ‘care at home’ and would strongly resist any proposals for cuts in expenditure which would affect the vulnerable and elderly.
People living in the Westside depend on the Public Bus Service to get to work, the shops and many other facilities. There are also Feeder-Service and Shopper Busses which are of a great benefit to the elderly in rural areas.
A full review of the Public Bus Service is underway and as a member of ZetTrans I have been working closely to ensure that communities are fully consulted on the type of service needed for their area.
I strongly support the continuation and extension of the Public Bus Service and would seek for additional late night weekend runs as has been requested by young persons living in the Westside.
There is a great demand for housing provision on the Westside for young people and first time buyers. Under the new Local Development Plan I would support the identification of affordable housing sites to allow young people to live within their own communities.
I believe we must balance new housing developments throughout the Shetland Isles; strengthening the Westside through the allocation of further housing in areas such as Aith, Skeld and Walls.
Managing future resources
To maintain our standard of living Shetland faces demanding challenges over the next five years. It will be the responsibility of the new Council elected in May to manage these challenges.
Shetland needs a period of stability with a new council working together for the benefit of the islands.
With the recession affecting the whole country, Shetland’s economy is inevitably affected. A future Council must balance the revenue and capital budgets for the next five years. It is crucial for the rural areas that proposed reductions in expenditure are managed sensitively so as not to affect the vulnerable or result in long term damage to rural communities.
If you would like to discuss with me the issues raised above or any other matters please do get in touch. I will be more than happy to hear your views and if elected bring those matters up at a new council.
Write Columbus, Selivoe, Bridge of Walls, Shetland, ZE2 9NR
Phone 01595 810283