FORMER council depute leader and chairman of the ZetTrans transport partnership Michael Stout has thrown his hat into the increasingly crowded ring that is the Shetland by-election.
Stout was closely involved in the negotiations the previous council had with the Scottish Government over fair ferry funding for the inter island service, and he feels there is still unfinished business for him to do.
While additional funding in the region of £5 million per annum has materialised over the last two financial years, frustrations have repeatedly been voiced by the local authority that more needs to be done to support the underfunded internal ferry links.
Stout said he had built up a close working relationship with key figures in the Scottish Government and hence feels he is the right person to resolve those issues.
“Without being arrogant about it, I got a decent chunk of relevant experience and skill built up, and that is the basis on which I put my name forward,” he said.
“For me there is a sense that the skills and insights I have got could put me in a good place to get political leadership to Shetland.”
Stout said transport was an intransient link to Shetland’s future, and he feels that with the tools provided by the Scottish Government such as the Islands Bill and the commitment to fair funding for local government, he could make a difference.
“My picture is that of an MSP working very closely with the chief executive and the leader of the SIC, I can see that as being a very effective combination to get Shetland to where it needs to be,” he said.
“And as an independent I am not hindered by party politics. Tavish had the opportunity to support fair ferry funding but party whip refused him to do that.
“The tools are there to use, and a strong independent MSP, especially if you have a minority government, can be potentially as strong and even stronger than a party member.”
The other nine candidates for the by-election on 29 August are: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).