LERWICK North councillor Stephen Leask has stepped down from his role as vice-chair of the development committee after he found himself at odds with the council’s leadership over the question of self-determination.
Leask was one of just two councillors who voted against a motion earlier this month to explore options for achieving “financial and political self-determination”.
During the debate in the council chamber almost two weeks ago Leask said he felt it was neither the time nor the place for such a move.
He also reminded councillors that Shetland was receiving significantly more in funding per head of population than the average Scottish local authority.
Although these figures are no secret and publicly available, Leask said he had been left in no doubt by the council leadership that his comments were undermining the council’s bargaining position with the Scottish Government.
Council leader Steven Coutts confirmed that he has a number of “amicable discussions” with Leask regarding his position.
He said he had not yet been notified of Leask’s resignation as the vice-chair of the development committee but agreed his position in the council leadership had become untenable.
But he denied that the Lerwick North councillor was forced to go before being pushed.
In his resignation statement issued to the press on Monday afternoon Leask said: “I must say that the issues regarding self-determination and autonomy should and must be dealt with at a democratic level.
“In my opinion, the people of Shetland’s aspirations, ambitions and wishes have been overlooked in other areas too – and not within the walls of the council chambers, leaving officials and officers to deal with what is an ethereal, nebulous and fanciful idea.
“I must also stress the costs it will consume for the Shetland people. At this time of Covid 19, Brexit, Westminster’s power grab to diminish the powers of a devolved Scotland, this definitely is not the time!
“I must pay tribute to the managers, officials, officers et al at development as they have made the experience as vice chair such an enjoyable position, and I must say it has been an immersive and enlightening process, so to them I express my thanks.”
It is the second resignation within the space of a week after Shetland Central councillor Ian Scott resigned from his committee roles after being reported to the Standards Commission for comments made in a recent full council meeting, where he said one piece of information he had received from a council officer had been a “lie”.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 540 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News