I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your support in the forthcoming elections.
The last two years have been difficult owing to cutbacks in budgets, which have affected us all.
I feel aggrieved that when it comes to cuts in services, the outer isles bear the brunt of any increases imposed – the perfect example is ferry fares up by 5%.
I would challenge any Mainland councillor to provide an example of a similar increase in costs for a council provided service.
It has thankfully not been all doom and gloom over the last five years.
A lot has been achieved in the last five years: the pier in Uyeasound, the new Mid Yell school, and the Fetlar breakwater is almost complete. Skerries south mouth is in the capital programme due to start in May this year.
I will continue to campaign for a reduction in ferry fares and, if possible, removal of fares through the Scottish Parliament as I see that as the only possible means to achieve this.
I passionately believe that with the removal of tolls from bridges in Scotland we should equally be entitled to the same treatment, as our ferries are our links between roads.
I will continue to campaign for at least the same level of ferry service we enjoy at the moment, as the ferries are what sustain our communities. Any reduction in service would, in my mind, result in the younger people leaving the isles.
I believe fixed links is the way forward for our islands. As the cost of fuel continues to rise it will become more difficult to maintain the level of service we enjoy at the moment.
Education is always at the forefront of people’s minds at election time and I am sure more so now with threatened closures of schools.
As the latest government figures show, primary education in Shetland is the cheapest of any of the three island groups. It costs £7,523 per pupil, compared to Orkney at £8,169 per pupil and Western Isles at £8,839 per pupil. In my mind, if something is not broken why fix it.
Secondary education is different. The costs there are Orkney at £8,745 per pupil, Western Isles £10,804 per pupil and Shetland at £11,245, so what we need to do in my view is to look at different methods of delivering education such as by the internet, and employing teachers with the ability to teach more than one subject.
This was done in the past and I am sure it could be done in the future. I think a school is the heart of any community and should be retained wherever possible.
I also support the Viking Energy project as I see it to be a huge boost to the Shetland economy in the form of long term employment both in the construction phase and maintenance of the system for 25-30 years.
I would challenge Sustainable Shetland to provide evidence of how they would propose to earn £15-20 million per annum for the people of Shetland.
I would like to see more effort made to secure more work for Sullom Voe. With the increase of activity in the renewable sector, harbour facilities should be improved to cater for this growing industry.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I trust I can rely on your support on 3 May.
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