I’m Gary Robinson; I was born in Lerwick and brought up in Weisdale where my family owns the local shop. I worked for the Shetland Recreational Trust at the Clickimin Centre for many years and I’ve lived in Lerwick with my wife and family since 2005.
I was first elected to serve on Shetland Islands Council in 2007 as a member for Shetland West and was returned in 2012 when I was appointed to lead the council through a challenging period of change. I currently chair the board of NHS Shetland.
I’m standing for the council again because I want to sustain the big improvements made in council services and finances since 2012, when the council’s funds were dwindling. Those reserves would be gone now were it not for the turnaround that I led.
I persuaded my colleagues to take difficult but necessary decisions to ensure that vital services were safeguarded for our community. Having agreed the SIC’s first sustainable budget in almost twenty years, I’m saddened to see the council overspending once more and alarmed that auditors believe a predicted deficit of £15.6 million by 2023/24 may be underestimated by as much as 40 per cent.
If I am elected, I will work tirelessly to put the council’s finances back on track and to ensure that the services you rely upon are protected.
As an island community, Shetland is susceptible to the effects of climate change. I think it’s imperative that the council acknowledges this by declaring a climate emergency. I appreciate that the council doesn’t hold all the answers to this looming global crisis but the first step towards dealing with any problem is to acknowledge that it exists.
As council leader, I brokered a £30 million solution to Shetland’s longstanding housing debt issue with our governments. This helped to stave off inflation-busting rent rises for council house tenants and brought in much-needed funds for new housing infrastructure.
Despite this, hundreds of people are still waiting. If I’m elected in November then I’d like to resume my work with the local housing association, other agencies and the government to ensure that more homes are built.
As one of the leaders of the Our Islands Our Future campaign, I fought to have more powers devolved to a local level in the firm belief that better decisions are made when they are taken closest to the people that they affect.
While the campaign was hugely successful, culminating in the Islands Act – the first act for the islands in almost 50 years – the National Islands Plan and the forthcoming Islands Deal, the momentum must be sustained.
I’d also like to see more fiscal powers held locally so that revenues raised locally can be reinvested locally – a view that’s shared by the Fraser of Allander Institute.
Lastly, but most importantly, I stand ready to listen to your concerns, and willing to deal with any issues that you wish to raise with me. I would represent you to the best of my ability.