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Politics / Transport man Thomson looks to break the mould in by-election

A SECOND councillor has thrown his hat into ring for the upcoming Scottish Parliament by-election in Shetland.

Chair of the SIC’s transport and environment committee, councillor Ryan Thomson. Photo: Shetland News

Ryan Thomson, who is a member for the North Isles, will stand as an independent candidate.

It comes after Scalloway’s Ian Scott signalled his intention last week to stand in the by-election as the party Fight Austerity, Save Our NHS, Save Our Welfare State.

Like Scott, Thomson was elected to Shetland Islands Council in 2017.

However, the Unst man was appointed the role of chairman of the environment and transport committee, with subsequent positions following as chair of transport partnership ZetTrans and the Shetland external transport forum.

Since being elected he has been involved in negotiations with the Scottish Government over funding of Shetland’s inter-island ferries, and he has been active on issues like car parking at Sumburgh Airport and the north boats.

He also campaigned for fairer airfares before becoming a councillor.

Thomson said that transport would naturally be a key issue for him in the weeks leading up to the by-election on 29 August.

This includes a hope to secure fair funding for internal ferries and to press the Scottish Government on the “real socio-economic needs for fixed links” for our islands.

“Here in Shetland, our internal ferry service is scuppered by an ageing fleet, and an underfunded service from Holyrood,” Thomson said.

“Our ‘external’ ferry service is crippled by a severe lack of capacity for passengers and freight and remains extortionately overpriced.

“Our new MSP must be someone who understands the problems islands face, who will put Shetland before party politics, will work with the Scottish Government to address these issues and put fixing our serious transport issues top of the agenda for our isles.

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“Secure fair ferry funding for our internal ferries, discuss service enhancement, provision and infrastructure including.”

Tavish Scott is stepping down as MSP to take up a role with Scottish Rugby.

With Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott keeping his seat at the Scottish Parliament since it opened in 1999, independent candidates haven’t had a look in – apart from when Billy Fox came second in 2011 with just over 30 per cent of the votes.

Thomson said he feels he can “absolutely” break the Lib Dem dominance in Shetland, claiming that only an independent candidate “will be able to put Shetland first in every decision made and in every vote”.

“For too long Shetland has been hamstrung by the shackles of mainland party politics,” he said.

“History can be made in this by-election, by electing an MSP who will be able to vote on decisions based on how they affect Shetland, not because of a party whip. Shetland has a real opportunity for improvement, for change, and to elect a candidate who will be able to put Shetland first in every decision made and in every vote. Only by electing an independent candidate can that happen.

“An independent candidate can work cross party, work with the Scottish Government, not against, for the benefit of Shetland. It will be my job over the coming seven weeks to convince the Shetland electorate I’m the candidate that can deliver the change necessary to benefit our isles.”

The candidate for the Labour Party, meanwhile, is expected to be announced imminently.

It is understood the identity of the Liberal Democrat candidate will be revealed at the weekend.

The local SNP branch is meeting this evening (8 July).

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