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Robinson gets a Stout deputy

Michael Stout will serve as deputy leader for the next 12 months.

LERWICK councillor Michael Stout has been appointed as the SIC’s new deputy leader, replacing Billy Fox who resigned earlier this year.

Following a secret ballot of councillors at Lerwick Town Hall on Wednesday, Stout – a newly elected councillor at the 2012 election – pipped Jonathan Wills by 10 votes to nine.

It followed a short debate about whether the council should appoint a replacement for Fox a year ahead of the next set of elections – with several members grumbling that the deputy leader did not have a clearly defined role.

Councillor Alastair Cooper’s motion not to appoint a new deputy to political leader Gary Robinson was defeated by 15 votes to three.

Wills had noted that Robinson “isn’t very keen on having a deputy”, who for his own part said he was “sanguine” as to whether a replacement was appointed.

Cooper said the role was “not that clearly defined” and suggested the next 12 months be used instead to “clarify and make the leader/deputy leader’s job more manageable”.

But Fox – who resigned from the post for a combination of reasons back in March – said he felt it was a worthwhile role and one which he had taken on with “no ambitions to plough my own furrow”.

He echoed Wills’ remarks about Robinson’s resistance to having a deputy: “I’m afraid that’s very much what I found of the situation.”

While not “desperately keen” to take on the position, Stout said he believed it would be an extension of his role as chairman of the SIC’s environment and transport committee.

“I’ve worked well with the leader in the past,” he said. “I appreciate I’m still a relative newcomer to the high offices, but would be more than willing to put the effort in and give support as required.”

Meanwhile, the three council members who have served on the board of Lerwick Port Authority have been nominated to remain on the board for a further three years.

Robinson, along with councillors Gary Cleaver and Peter Campbell, were appointed back in 2013 and would continue until 2019 regardless of whether they win re-election next year.

Wills, meanwhile, has been made a full member of SOTEAG (Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group) after the council was asked to submit a third member. 

He joins Cooper and Fox alongside members of the oil and gas industry on the environmental group.