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Election / Two new councillors elected

Newly elected councillors Moraig Lyall (Shetland Central) and Stephen Flaws (Lerwick South). Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND has a couple of new councillors after Stephen Flaws and Moraig Lyall were elected on Friday in two by-elections.

Flaws reigned supreme in a closely fought five-candidate campaign in Lerwick South, gaining 350 first preference votes.

Former Shetland Islands Council leader Gary Robison received 374 first preference votes in his bid to return to the chamber – but the voting system took into account second, third, fourth and fifth preference votes too.

Flaws was elected at the fifth and final stage of the voting process. The quota of votes to be elected was 534.

Frances Valente secured 154 first preference votes, while Arwed Wenger got 116. Caroline Henderson received 73.

Lyall, meanwhile, was a comfortable winner in the Shetland Central ward, which also had five candidates. She received 344 first preference votes, with Julie Buchan next in line with 116.

She was elected in the third stage of the voting process. The quota of votes to be elected was 367.

SNP candidate Stewart Douglas got 111 first preference votes in the ward, Gordon Laverie received 84 and Johan Adamson got 77.

The by-elections were triggered by the resignation of Lerwick South’s Beatrice Wishart following her election as Shetland’s new MSP in August, and after Mark Burgess stepped down in Shetland Central for personal reasons.

The turnout for the vote in Lerwick South was 31.2 per cent, and the turnout in Shetland Central was 31 per cent.

This was down from the 2017 council election, where 43.7 per cent of Lerwick South turned out and 40.9 per cent voted in the central ward.

Speaking after Friday’s declaration, Flaws said he was “absolutely delighted” to be elected.

“I maybe wasn’t expecting the result, but now that it’s here, I am delighted,” he said.

“It was really close, and there was obviously a low turnout, but I think folk are maybe just a bit fed up with elections.

“I think it’s important that folk come out and vote and I’d like to thank everybody that has come out and voted.

“The campaign was really enjoyable. It was really interesting speaking to folk, both with those that agreed with you, and those that disagreed with you. It was really interesting to see where folk sat.

“I think what I took most out of it was that folk were willing to engage and were wanting somebody to represent their views, and hopefully I’ll be able do that.”

Moraig Lyall said she was “shellshocked, but very pleased” to be elected as a councillor for Shetland Central.

“I actually found it [the campaign] really energising,” she said.

“I love being out and about and going around the doors, and the people I spoke to on the whole were very positive and encouraging.

“If I hadn’t been elected, I would still not regret doing it, because I met so many fine folk. I saw some nice corners of Burra and Trondra and things like that I’d never been to before.

“Personally speaking for a while I’ve been looking for something new to get my teeth into, so I’m really excited about this. Quite what it’s all going to involve is a bit of an unknown to me, but I certainly will do my best to repay the faith in all the people who voted for me.”

The count at Lerwick Town Hall started at 10am and thanks to electronic counting the results were announced before 11am.

Lerwick South has three other councillors – Peter Campbell, Amanda Hawick and Cecil Smith.

In Shetland Central Lyall will join Davie Sandison and Ian Scott.