Politics / SIC election: live

Jonathan Wills

15.20 And that’s all from Lerwick Town Hall, folks. We have a new council which looks very different from the old council, though nine of the 11 candidates standing for re-election made it back in.

Whether they will be able to push for prominence remains to be seen, though Alistair Cooper and Cecil Smith both did respectably well coming second in their ward despite being closely associated with the previous leadership. They could be tipped for senior roles in the new administration.

Jonathan Wills, Gary Robinson and Allison Duncan all did extremely well on their record as critics of the old administration, as did Robert Henderson in the North Isles who may well get a chair having run the harbour board since 2007.

Davie Sandison came first in Shetland Central but is too new to the council to be associated with anything of the old. He too will be one to watch.


Allan Wishart fared poorly compared to his previous outing and looked somewhat dazed by the result, especially being beaten by Michael Stout who has no similar experience leading public sector organisations.

And Frank Robertson was a surprise as well, only just beating Tom Macintyre for third place in Shetland West.

Of the new guard the ones to watch will obviously be Malcolm Bell, who just tipped Allison Duncan to get the biggest share of the vote in his ward. Theo Smith swept to the front on the west side, as did former councillor Andrea Manson up north.

Shouting from the sidelines will be the likes of anti wind farm campaigner Billy Fox, young environmentalist Steven Coutts who sits on the opposite side of the fence on Viking, and former Shetland Times editor Vaila Wishart who is known for her strong opinions and inability to suffer fools gladly.

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Former councillor, Viking Energy and Crofters Commission chairman Drew Ratter had a sobering result beaten into third place, but he is an energetic and articulate man who will be looking to have a say in how things are done over the next five years.

Returning officer Jan Riise said it was a good election with no hiccups and thanked all his staff and everyone who helped with the count for making the whole election such a success.

Lerwick South is the biggest ward and the big winner there with a huge share of the vote and the third best performance overall is Jonathan Wills, a bugbear of the old administration who has been more vocal than most in his criticism.

Interestingly, Wills is tough on cuts and is adamant the islands must learn to live within their means now if they want to live well in the future. He thinks the savings are manageable through internal efficiencies and wants staff to lead the way.


Second in the ward was Cecil Smith, former chairman of the social services committee who will be looking for an influential role in the new council. He too is tough on cuts, saying that folk on the doorstep appreciated his message of “we’ve had it too good for too long”. He is being tipped by some as convener.

Peter Campbell, the former head teacher, will be pleased with his result having missed out during the bye election against Jonathan Wills following the death of Cecil Eunson in late 2007.

And finally our third female councillor is Amanda Westlake, only back in her native Shetland for the past two years, but again an earthy voice that folk could relate to. Both will be looking for time to get their feet under the table and understand how local government works from the inside before sticking their necks out on major issues.


Westlake’s masters degree in sustainable development through renewable energy may give her a strong opinion on Viking Energy though, while Campbell will have much to say on education, having been a union representative as well as a school head.

Sad though was the fate of Jim Henry who came last in Lerwick South after two terms in the council. He had an accident that was a blow during his last term and many were surprised he chose to give it another go. On the radio he said people called him “bonkers” for doing it. The voters obviously wish him a happy and well deserved retirement.

13.37pm The Lerwick results are in. The big shock in Lerwick North was seeing Caroline Miller’s head roll after a tough five years that saw her embroiled with concerns about the Judane affair. She will be very disappointed.


And Allan Wishart only came in third on the seventh round, no comparison to his performance last time round in 2007 when he matched Allison Duncan in popularity. That year he was standing for the first time after confronting the council over the Bressay bridge.

This time round he has been standard bearer for Viking Energy and proponent of tough action on council budgets, and his share of the vote may reflect on any position he holds in a future authority (though a low vote didn’t stop Sandy Cluness remaining convener in 2007). He believes his lower vote may a reflection on people’s opinions of the old council as a whole.

Michael Stout is a fresh face who did very well on the doorsteps with his message calling for a culture change on the council, the most popular message in the isles at the moment amongst an electorate fed up with waste and overspending and troubled about cuts ahead. Unlike Wishart, he is uneasy about Viking Energy.


But Malcolm Bell was the success story of the night getting the biggest share of the vote, slightly ahead of Flea in the south end. He has a strong reputation as former police chief, public servant in the voluntary sector and concerned citizen who people feel they can trust. He may well be in the running for a leading role in the new look authority.

12.55 Lerwick South results:

Jonathan Wills – elected in stage 1 of the count number of first

preference votes 646
Cecil Smith – elected in stage2 of the count number of first preference votes 319
Peter Campbell – elected in stage 5 of the count number of first preference votes 259
Amanda Westlake – elected in stage 16of the count number of first preference votes 229

Jim Henry – number of first preference votes: 58
Robbie Leith – number of first preference votes: 144
Iain Morrison – number of first preference votes: 119

12.45 Lerwick North results:

Malcolm Bell – elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 684
Michael Stout – elected in stage2 of the count number of first preference votes 207

Allan Wishart – elected in stage7 of the count number of first preference votes 147

Bill Adams – number of first preference votes: 28
Caroline Miller – number of first preference votes: 35
Danus Skene – number of first preference votes: 65
Alex Wright – number of first preference votes: 46

Turnout in Lerwick North was just under 50 per cent.

12.32 In the North Isles we have more surprises, with relatively unknown Gary Cleaver knocking out the former Whalsay head teacher and Shetland Arts chairman Jim Johnston to take third place behind sitting member Robert Henderson and young blood Steven Coutts.


Henderson says he feels humbled after tripling his vote on 2007, and sees himself as having a mandate to carry on arguing for ferries to be maintained as the isles main road, retaining schools and care for the elderly. Where can savings be made? By cutting staffing to Orkney levels perhaps. He is a big wind farm supporter.

Coutts feels his youth and his upbringing on Yell helped him, but he received a generally positive response on the doorsteps. He too wants to rein in the cuts and protect public services, but despite living in Weisdale within two kilometres of some of the Viking turbines, he is broadly supportive of the wind farm and may well find himself a prominent spokesman for the development as he has a strong environmental record.

Gary Cleaver has lived in Shetland for just five years hailing originally from Hertfordshire and then West Yorkshire from where he headed north. He put his success down to listening to folk on the doorstep and pledging to represent their views, such as their support for maintaining schools, services and building a wind farm that will boost Shetland’s economy.

12.25pm Surprises in the north of Shetland. Hotel proprietor Andrea Manson came in first with a solid vote reflecting the hard work and down to earth message she has been putting out at hustings meetings and on doorsteps, standing up for traditional values and complaining bitterly about the council’s performance over the past few years.

She said issues varied across the board, but came down to the usual protecting schools, improving transport and providing more housing. She is now Shetland’s second female councillor.

Alastair Cooper was some folk’s favourite, but only came in second, possibly a reflection of the dissatisfaction with the previous council and his part in it. He has also been a prominent proponent of some of the cuts and a clear supporter opf Viking Energy, which remains unpopular with many despite the removal of wind turbines from everywhere north of Voe.


Drew Ratter came a clear third, though he will be disappointed after putting in a huge effort on the doorstep to return to the council chamber he left in 2007 to become chairman of the Crofters Commission.

Shetland North will back Viking, though Manson has many questions. They will also be looking for more imagination to balance the budget than just cutting back on schools and services.

North Isles Results:

Robert Henderson –elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 430
Steven Coutts – elected in stage 2 of the count number of first preference votes 331
Gary Cleaver – elected in stage 4 of the count number of first preference votes 301

Jim Johnston -number of first preference votes: 159
Alan Skinner -number of first preference votes: 158

Turnout was even hight at 61.19 per cent.

Shetland North Results:

Andrea Manson – elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 444
Alistair Cooper –elected in stage 2 of the count number of first preference votes 346
Drew Ratter –
elected in stage 7 of the count number of first preference votes 257

Colin Arnot -number of first preference votes: 36
Davy Cooper – number of first preference votes: 172
Alan Roy Macdonald – number of first preference votes: 59
Jim Reyner – number of first preference votes: 119

The turn-out in the north if Shetland was again higher than expected and certainly above the national average at 57.96 per cent.

11.30am Central mainland showed a clear preference for the only sitting councillor Davie Sandison, who is prominent in the community as community council chairman in Scalloway and represents the salmon industry which employs a lot of people in the area.


Close behind wasformer Shetland Times editorVaila Wishart, who has done well on the doorsteps and is vocal on political issues, all of which has stood her in good stead. She said she felt “ovewhelmed”.

Ms Wishart is so far the first female member elected to the new council.

Mark Burgess is another Shetland Times writer who is very active in the community around Scalloway. He pipped Ian Scott to the post on preference votes, but neither turned up for the count, unlike unsuccessful John Hunter.

Issues remain protection of public services, especially schools in the area. How Blueprint for Education can proceed is open to question on these results.

As for the wind farm, Burgess and Wishart are opposed. Sandison is considering his position the more he learns about the development.

No surprises in the south ward, though Billy Fox may feel some disappointment at coming third. He says he is not and is proud to have been chosen to represent his voters.

The major issue appears to have been the performance of the last council and the waste of money that has alarmed folk. They now feel threatened that even south mainland schools could be under threat along with public services for the vulnerable and weakest members of society.

Flea came well ahead of the rest reflecting his popularity in the area and on the doorstep and George Smith has a strong record as a community worker in the neighbourhood.

People feel able to trust them to protect their services and argue their cause.

The south is split over the wind farm, a fact acknowlegded by all candidates. Fox is clearly opposed, Smith wants to take a pragmatic view and does not want SSE to go it alone, and Duncan is ambivalent – supporting self sufficiency and export of marine energy.


11.00 Shetland Central results:

Mark Burgess –elected in stage 5 of the count number of first preference votes 143
David Sandison -elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 375
Vaila Wishart – elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 267

John Hunter -number of first preference votes: 50
Peter Jamieson – number of first preference votes 48
Ian Scott -number of first preference votes 145

Turnout: 45.71 per cent

10.50am: Shetland South results:

Allison Duncan -elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 685
Billy Fox -elected in stage 2 of the count number of first preference votes 337
Andrew Shearer – number of first preference votes 68
George Smith -elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 418

10.30am The count for Shetland South and Shetland Central are now taking place. Bets are fairly safe for the south end with Allison “Flea” Duncan, George Smith and Billy Fox almost inevitably to be the chosen trio.

Voter turnouut in the south was strong at 56.63 per cent.

In the Central ward currently it is looking good for Davie Sandison, Mark Burgess and Vaila Wishart, though John Hunter and Ian Scott are putting in a good show and should not be written off.

10.20am A 64 per cent turn out is exceptional and shows a highly engaged electorate on the west side.

This is clearly an anti Viking Energy vote, perhaps unsurprising considering the area will probably feel the biggest impact of the development.Frank Robertson and Gary Robinson have both consistently

opposed the wind farm in the council chamber supporting the planning department’s recommendation to object to the plan in December 2010.

Theo Smith has said he will vote against any more money going to the project from Shetland Charitable Trust.


Tom Macintyre was the only candidate to openly support the wind farm, but he did get very close to beating Frank Robertson.

They will also all oppose the closure of Sandness primary school and Aith junior high.


Shetland West results

Theo Smith – elected in stage 1 of the count number of first preference votes 481
Frank Robertson – elected in stage 7 of the count, number of first preference votes 112
Gary Robinson– elected in stage 1 of the count,number of first preference votes 359


Tom Macintyre -number of first preference votes 117
Marion Hughson -number of first preference votes 68
Andy Holt -number of first preference votes 77
Ian Tinkler -number of first preference votes 78

Theo Smith, Gary Robinson and Frank Robertson are going to represent Shetland West for the next five years.

Jan Riise is now taking the Shetland West candidates through the adjudication process for votes where there is a question mark over the ballot paper. For example one voter just put the number 2 against one candidate. That counts as a number 1.

Quite a lot of ballot papers are being judged as invalid because of the way they have been completed, which is a shame for democracy and shows the message about the single transferable vote is not getting through any better than it did five years ago when there were enormous problem.

We’re getting close to the first result – expected just before 10am.

9.30am One face that we will not be seeing in the council chamber over the next five years is Florence Grains after 30 years representing Sandtsing and Aisthsting and then Shetland West,

“I am quite glad not to be standing, it’s not the council I went into. It’s changed too much. Maybe it’s a sign of age. They have a hard job ahead of them to get stability back into the islands.”

She has not given up public life though. Her future is “more committee meeting, the first one last night with the Shetland Heritage Association”.

9.24am Shetland West count is underway with Liberal Democrat Theo Smith masquerading as an independent looking like favourite having served his political apprenticeship on Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale community council.

Second favourite is Frank Robertson who has a long history working for the council prior to becoming a councillor in 1999 and firmly established himself as chair of the planning authority.


Third favourite is either rebel councillor Gary Robinson who has made a name for himself standing up to the old guard during the last five years, and Reverend Tom Macintyre who is well known for his ministerial activities (of the religious kind) on the west side.

Outsiders are outspoken anti-wind farm dentis Ian Tinkler, Papa Stour crofter and drug rehab proprietor Andy Holt and concerned Whiteness resident Marion Hughson.

9.08am The count has begun for Shetland West. Riise has warned that if the fire drill goes off it’s a real emergency so we have to leave the building. He has introduced the staff from the council and from Logica and said the system should give “no scope for human error”.

8.50am The three electioneers – SIC chief executive Alistair Buchan, returning officer Jan Riise and depute returning officer Anne Cogle prepare for the first count.

For Buchan it’s an interesting event as it’s the first time he has no actual role. “Jan’s role has been my deputy at Westminster and European elections but this time I have no role in the election for the first time in about 20 years so it’s nice to have the freedom to get on with the preparation for the new council.”

8.42am Anne Cogle says that the provisional turnout for the election in Shetland is around 50 per cent, an average for these islands. The highest turnout appears to be in Shetland West and the lowest in the North Isles and Shetland North.

First candidate of the day to turn up is Jim Johnston who is standing in the North Isles and has driven all the way from Hillswick, even though his result is not expected until 11.45am

The big questions today involve how many of the 11 councillors standing for re-election will get in, and how many of the new fold will back the council’s existing policies to cut the budget as quickly as was agreed at the famous 9 February meeting.

There is also the thorny issue of Viking Energy, which Shetland Charitable Trust failed to seal the finance for prior to the election despite three attempts, their efforts finally being brought to a halt by the charity regulator himself.

If the new council does not feature sufficient pro-Viking councillors then the future of Shetland’s community involvement in the scheme will really be open to questions. With former Sustainable Shetland chairman Billy Fox expected to gain a seat, we can expect sparks to fly, especially if he is joined in the chamber by former Viking chairman Drew Ratter.


Schools are the third major issue, with rural councillors pledging to protect their threatened primaries while Lerwick members demand cuts to protect their own. Big arguments over the future of the Blueprint for Education can be expected, indeed have already begun with community councils mounting a rebellion.

And finally there is the question of leadership. Most of the prominent councillors, including convener Sandy Cluness and leader Josie Simpson have stood down. So has education supremo Betty Fullerton, leaving plenty of room for new blood.

There is much to play for.


The only people in Lerwick Town Hall at the moment are the technicians from Hamilton Events in Bracknell, Berkshire, who have supplied all the computer hardware for the 32 Scottish local authority elections, and from Reading-based Logica who are in charge of the software.

They are of course joined by the town hall staff and SIC head of administration Anne Cogle, the second most important person here today after returning officer Jan Riise who will make the final decision in the event of any disputes over the count.

8am Snow is falling outside Lerwick Town Hall as Shetland waits for counting to start at the local government elections.

Counting is due to commence at 9am, with the first result for Shetland West due at 9.45am.

This will be followed by Shetland South and Shetland Central, which should be announced by 10.45am.

Then North Isles and Shetland North at 11.45am and finally the two Lerwick wards at 12.45pm.

As well as this live feed there will be results on the Shetland Islands Council website at www.shetland.gov.ukand BBC Radio Shetland are broadcasting live from the count. The Shetland Times are also promising a live update of the results.

So plenty going on to keep people informed.

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