|Candidate Name||Gary Robinson|
|Electoral Ward||Shetland West|
|Description (if any)|
I’m Gary Robinson. I was born in Lerwick and brought up in Weisdale where my family owns the local shop and I lived for most of my life.
I’m standing for election again because I want to sustain the big improvements made in council services and finances since 2012, when the council’s reserves were dwindling. These funds would be gone now if councillors hadn’t curbed overspending and waste.
Five years ago the crisis forced us to consider closing schools. Today those reserves have recovered to over £300 million. This means that we can put an extra £1 million into social care with a similar amount for education this year.
As council leader I’ve had to persuade colleagues to take difficult but necessary decisions. Our priorities were to protect the elderly, children and rural communities from the worst cuts.
We’ve increased the percentage of our budget spent on education, care and transport relative to other council services. Back-office support costs have been reduced to below the Scottish average in order to protect vital front-line services.
Despite the financial pressures, Shetland pupils are achieving some of the best results in Scotland. The Scottish Government has made education its top priority and said that fairness and equality should be at the heart of this. I want to hold them to account and ensure that this is followed up with fair funding for all of our schools.
By targeting maintenance towards roads that are in the poorest condition, overall standards have improved. Several West Side roads have moved into the top ten for improvement and it’s been agreed that these schemes will be worked up so that they can go ahead whenever funding is secured.
Rural bus services have been increased on a lower budget. I’d like to see this kept under review so that we can continue to meet new and existing demands.
A recent benchmarking survey has shown that, while we’ve halved cleansing costs, standards have improved thanks to new machinery and working methods.
We’ve jump-started a proper broadband service (after BT and Westminster let Shetland down) and persuaded mobile companies to introduce 3G and 4G communications here. Pressure must be maintained on the government to ensure that they deliver their commitment to 100 per cent broadband coverage by 2021.
The Scottish Government has launched a new Rural Housing Fund which I’d like to use for much-needed new homes in the area. I want the council to continue gifting land throughout Shetland to Hjaltland Housing Association and other organisations willing to build affordable homes. The housing waiting list has reduced from about 1,000 people to below 700. We must ensure that the downward trend continues.
Things aren’t perfect and I know this council has made some mistakes but I’ve worked hard to create a stable financial platform to build upon while avoiding the costly mistakes of the past.
I want this positive progress to continue so if you decide to re-elect me on 4 May I’ll continue to listen to you and work for you first and foremost.