UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Friday 19 July 2024
 13.8°C   S Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Council / Big changes ahead as senior council posts set to become vacant

Council convener Malcolm Bell, police leader Stephen Coutts and chair of the development committee Alastair Cooper.

WITH SHETLAND Islands Council’s leader and convener confirming their plans not to stand in the May election, there will be change at the top in the chamber.

But Steven Coutts (Shetland West) and Malcolm Bell (Lerwick North) are not the only senior members deciding to call time on their council career, with experienced development committee chairman Alastair Cooper (Shetland North) also retiring.

The next local government election is taking place on 5 May and, like some previous years, there stands to be a shake-up in the make-up of Shetland’s council.

Added into the mix this time is an expected increased emphasis on party politics, with the Scottish Greens and the SNP set to field candidates. So far two Green candidates, Alex Armitage and Debra Nicolson, have declared they will stand.

So, what about the other members of the 22-strong Shetland Islands Council? Less than ten of the sitting councillors have so far declared their intention to stand again, meaning there is plenty of opportunity for those interested in becoming a councillor and representing their community.

Lerwick South member Peter Campbell says he will be hanging up his boots. The former teacher was first elected in 2012 before being returned five years later.

Lerwick South member Amanda Hawick. Photo: Shetland News

Amanda Hawick, who also represents Lerwick South, said she is “almost certain” to throw her hat into the ring again.

She was recently appointed as an executive board member at The View magazine, which gives a voice to women in the justice system, but is confident of having the time to stand again.

Hawick said the best thing about being a councillor is representing the electorate. “Since my first election in 2012, I have dealt with hundreds and hundreds of constituents issues with great success,” she said.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


She is likely to be joined on the Lerwick South ballot by John Fraser – who currently represents Lerwick North and Bressay.

Having spent over 20 years in Nederdale, the councillor – who now lives at the Observatory – feels it appropriate to shift wards.

Lerwick South’s Cecil Smith said he has not made up his mind yet, while Stephen Flaws, who won a by-election in the ward in November 2019, could not be contacted.

Councillor Stephen Leask will also be standing again.

In Lerwick North and Bressay Stephen Leask is planning to stand again in the three-councillor ward.

He said he has felt “very honoured” to represent the area since being elected in 2017.

Meanwhile, Shetland West’s Catherine Hughson and Theo Smith both said they were mulling things over.

Due to boundary changes Shetland West is to drop from three councillors to two, with Shetland Central expanding to four, bringing the total number of elected members to 23.

Here Ian Scott is keen to throw his hat into the ring once more. He said he has enjoyed the role – especially the “small things where you can make a difference”.

Both his fellow councillors Davie Sandison and Moraig Lyall said they needed more time to make up their mind whether to stand again.

Sandison said he wanted to speak to family and other councillors as well as weigh up his other interests before making a decision, while Lyall said she had been “grappling” with the question for some time but had not yet reached a conclusion.

In Shetland South the council’s only non-independent member, the SNP’s Robbie McGregor, said he would like to stand but his party is going through the usual selection process.

Southend councillor Allison Duncan.

South Mainland stalwart Allison Duncan is happy to confirm his intention to stand again as he still has “unfinished business” to attend to.

Education and families committee chairman George Smith, the third of the South End councillors, said he has not made up his mind but will have done so by the final committee meeting on 7 March when he plans to declare his intentions.

Following changes to the boundaries of council wards, Shetland South will be represented by four councillors from May onwards.

Among those who are expecting to stand again is Shetland North’s Andrea Manson, who was first elected as a councillor in 1983.

She also referred to a “lot of unfinished business” from the current council, when responding to Shetland News.

Council depute leader Emma Macdonald said she was still undecided at this stage and thinking things over.

Meanwhile in the North Isles, environment and transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson has confirmed his intention to commit another five years should he be elected.

Duncan Anderson said he was still undecided while Alec Priest could not be reached.

Anyone thinking of standing in the May election can access advice from the council website here.

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 600 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.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.