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Election / Candidates make final pledges

Househiolds were inundated with election leaflets during the by-election campaign. Photo: Shetland News

SNP candidate Tom Wills has promised to call first minister Nicola Sturgeon about delivering his transport improvement plans first thing on Friday morning should he be elected as the isles’ new MSP.

In an open letter to be published on Wednesday, Wills is calling on voters to unite behind the SNP, “the country’s biggest and strongest anti-Brexit voice”.

He writes: “I’m not going to waste a second in delivering progress for Shetlanders. If I can’t prove my worth over the next 18 months in the job, I want you to kick me out in 2021.

“With your support, I will dedicate myself to making life better for everyone who lives here. My promise is that I will put Shetland’s case to the heart of the SNP government – with guaranteed results.

“The SNP is by some distance the strongest pro-European party in the UK. We have 100 parliamentarians in Westminster, Holyrood, and Brussels, ready to stand up for Scotland and take serious action to stop Brexit.”

LIB Dem candidate Beatrice Wishart, meanwhile, has vowed to push back against SNP’s centralisation agenda and press for more local control over spending priorities.

She said that at 8.2 per cent of overall Shetland council funding has been ringfenced by central government, compared to 1.5 per cent five years ago.

In addition, the local authority’s budget decreased by just over 14 per cent between 2013/14 and 2018/19; which translated into £414 less to spend per islander.

“I am firm believer that the people who know best what their local community needs are the people who live there week in week out,” she said.

“These figures show that since the SNP have been in power, Shetland Islands Council has had less money at its disposal and less freedom over how to spend that money.”

NICOLA Sturgeon has come under fire for making as many trips to Shetland in the current by-election campaign as over her five-year term as first minister.

The Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP leader of “only caring about Shetland when there are votes to be won”.

Tory candidate Brydon Goodland said the first minister had barely been out of the isles during the five week long campaign.

“We have been graced with three visits, but these records show that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP only care about Shetland when there are votes to be won,” he said.

“The people of Shetland need an MSP and a party that will stand up for this area all year round, not just when there is a parliamentary seat at stake.”

THE SCOTTISH Green Deal, to be launched by the Greens on Thursday, will benefit Shetland in the years to come, according to the party’s candidate in the Shetland by-election.

Debra Nicolson said the programme would provide an impetus to efforts to tackle the climate emergency while ensuring new jobs are created and protected.

“We need to realign the economy to build a more just, sustainable and prosperous Scotland, and Shetland is at the front line of that,” she said.

“In this campaign I’ve heard time and time again people’s concerns about the climate emergency. That’s why it’s important we build a positive plan of action to do something about it.

“This week’s launch is just the beginning of the Scottish Green New Deal, and we will follow with more detailed proposals on all the different sectors. I look forward to sharing it with folk on Shetland.”