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SIC leader Robinson loses West Side seat

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SHETLAND Islands Council leader Gary Robinson has lost his seat in the Shetland West ward in local government elections that saw ten new faces win five-year terms.

Twelve councillors won re-election including last term’s convener Malcolm Bell, while there are there new, young faces in the North Isles: fair ferry fares campaigner Ryan Thomson, Duncan Simpson and Alec Priest. 

Gender balance on the local authority has improved slightly, with five women compared to the three elected back in 2012. Overall turnout was 49 per cent.

The uncontested Shetland South ward saw the islands’ first ever SNP councillor, Robbie McGregor, elected. The two Tory “paper candidates”, meanwhile, mustered just 74 first preference votes between them. Had neither stood then three of the seven Shetland wards would have been uncontested. 

No other candidates stood under a party political ticket. 

Conservative Thomas Williamson, who during the campaign urged people not to vote for him, polled only 24 votes in Lerwick North. The successful candidates in that ward were Bell, Stephen Leask and John Fraser.

Across town in Lerwick South, Cecil Smith, Peter Campbell and Amanda Westlake were re-elected. Beatrice Wishart, who has worked in the parliamentary office of Liberal Democrats Alistair Carmichael and Tavish Scott for the past ten years, won standing as an independent.

In Shetland West, Robinson lost his seat after facing criticism from constituents who felt he was not fully supportive of keeping Aith Junior High School’s secondary department open.

He played a leading role in the Our Islands Our Future campaign, along with Orkney and the Western Isles, for further autonomy.

Successful there were Theo Smith, Catherine Hughson and Steven Coutts, the latter switching from the North Isles ward.

“That’s politics,” was Robinson’s response. “I’m disappointed obviously, but I think Shetland West was always going to be a tough ward. It’s where my heart was, and is, and I’d rather have fought and lost the Shetland Ward than move anywhere else, so it was a chance I took at the end of the day.”

There wasn’t much of a contest in Shetland North, where Andrea Manson and Alastair Cooper were convincingly re-elected. They were joined by local businesswoman Emma Macdonald, with Tory “paper candidate” Isobel Johnson a distant fourth.

In Shetland Central, Davie Sandison and Mark Burgess won re-election while socialist Ian Scott finally won a seat after years of trying.

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