|Candidate Name||Theo Smith|
|Electoral Ward||Shetland West|
|Description (if any)||Independent|
I have decided to stand for re-election in Shetland West. The last five years have been hard work and challenging but it has also been a great privilege to serve the people of the West Side.
When you consider the serious financial situation we inherited and the very difficult and painful decisions we have had to make I think this current council has achieved a great deal in this term. We have brought back good governance and stability and have re-established belief in ourselves. If re-elected I will do my best to make sure that the principles this council has restored continue to be observed.
We have come a long way, but make no mistake things are going to be tough with the predicted year-on-year reductions in the Scottish Government grant together with the uncertainty of Brexit. Bureaucracy and constant change emanating from the Scottish Government will make it much harder to maintain the high quality services currently enjoyed.
There are still many issues to be addressed in a new council and with the knowledge and experience I have gained I feel well equipped to meet the challenges ahead.
I believe the main priorities for the West Side are education, social care, housing and roads & transport.
I firmly believe secondary education must be maintained at Aith. It’s clear from results and a rising secondary roll that pupils are not being put at any educational disadvantage. Transporting them on a daily basis to Lerwick would certainly do so, due to the long travel time which was ably demonstrated by a group of parents of pupils at Aith. I also think that secondary pupils from the Aith catchment area should be given the choice to travel daily, if they wish, or get free hostel accommodation.
Until we can provide the required number of carers and a fit-for-purpose telecare system for home care I would be very much against any alteration to the rural care centre system.
I will continue to support the desire for housing. I will do all I can to help the Walls community to investigate the possibility of forming some kind of community housing trust to build a small housing scheme on the council-owned site at Kirkidale.
This council re-designed public bus services resulting in an extended service at a lower cost which must be maintained. It is vital that we keep pressure on the Scottish Government to fund our internal ferry service and reduce external ferry fares.
If funding becomes available the major road schemes at Haggersta to Cova and Murrister to Bridge of Walls must move up the roads priority list when others ahead are completed. I also support the much-needed Garderhouse improvements and the speed limits requested in Aith. I also take seriously the concerns expressed by parents about road safety audits regarding their children walking to school. I do believe this needs reviewing.
There are many more issues concerning the West Side and Shetland and I look forward to discussing them with constituents over the coming weeks.
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