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Politics / Scores of community council vacancies remain

OVER 40 seats on community councils across Shetland remain unfilled after a recent election despite increased efforts to encourage people to put their name forward.

Nominations were open between September and October, and results of uncontested seats were revealed earlier this month before candidates are formally elected on 22 November.

But 43 vacancies remain in all but three of Shetland’s 18 community councils, with only Skerries, Fetlar and Sandsting and Aithsting filling their complements at the first time of asking.

Anyone interested in putting themselves forward can still do so before by-elections in January, and if there are any vacancies remaining after that then community councils can co-opt people directly.

Dunrossness has been left with six vacancies after only recruiting half of its full amount, while Delting and Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh each have five unfilled seats.

Areas like Whalsay, Yell and Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale all have four vacancies.

Only one person away from their full complement are Lerwick, Burra and Trondra, Sandwick, Scalloway and Unst.

It has been a number of years since Shetland had a contested election for a community council seat and a video campaign took place this year to encourage more people to put themselves forward.

Community councils meet every four to six weeks and their activities include commenting on local planning applications, undertaking environmental improvements and responding to consultations.

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell reiterated his call for more people to get involved in community councils, which he said are a “great chance to participate in local democracy”.

“It is a very valuable and worthwhile position and it also gives anybody who’s got an interest in perhaps considering for standing for the council in future years a good insight to that,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that there are still a number of vacancies, but by-elections will be held for those vacancies in January next year and again that will give people another opportunity to stand.

“Once again, I would encourage anybody within their local area with any interest in standing for their community council to consider standing at the by-elections.”

Read a list of the uncontested elections to Shetland’s community councils here.