Name: Gary Robinson Electoral Ward: Lerwick North and Bressay Description: Independent
Hello. My name is Gary Robinson. I was born in Lerwick 53 years ago and brought up in Weisdale where my family still owns the local shop and Post Office. I’ve lived in Lerwick with my wife and family since 2005 and worked in the town for most of my career.
I’ve been the chair of NHS Shetland since 2018 and led the organisation through the pandemic. As a director of Lerwick Port Authority, I helped create the new fishmarket and promoted new business in renewable energy, offshore decommissioning, and cruise ships. However, I’m due to retire from this role soon having served the maximum three terms. I’m the vice-chair of Lerwick Community Council and play an active role in its work.
I was first elected to serve on Shetland Islands Council in 2007 as a member for Shetland West and following my re-election in 2012, I led the Council through a challenging period of change. Notwithstanding this, I was able to spearhead the delivery of the New Anderson High School and supported a sustainable replacement for the Eric Gray Resource Centre.
I co-founded the multi-award winning ‘Our Islands Our Future’ campaign in 2013, which was aimed at improving the social and economic wellbeing of islanders. This paved the way for the Islands Act in the Scottish Parliament, the multi-million pound ‘Islands Deal’ and the local Crown Estate grant scheme.
If I’m elected in May, I’d like to use these powers, to seek local control of schemes such as those aimed at tackling fuel poverty. Properly installed insulation and efficient heating systems are the only way, and this can be done with a structured, well-funded and locally delivered scheme.
New and refurbished housing stock is essential too – a shortage of affordable homes has made it difficult for young islanders to get onto the property ladder and added to recruitment challenges for local employers.
The Islands Act empowers islands’ councils to seek devolution of powers and budgets from central government. For example, among the most obvious ones to pursue would be those giving us control over our own external transport links. It isn’t good enough that someone in Edinburgh decides what our ferry service should be – let those who use it define it.
I’ve been a long-time supporter of fixed links to Shetland’s outer isles including Bressay, and this Council must be the one to take these plans forward. It’s clear that such a complex and expensive project must be underwritten by the Government – not the Council – but delivered locally using a model like that successfully deployed by our Scandinavian neighbours.
While it’s often said that the ‘rainy day’ is here, we should spend the Council’s reserves. In truth, there’ve been many rainy days since Shetland gained the power to hold reserves back in the 1970s. These funds have seen us through thick and thin, and – if they’re well managed – they should see us through many more challenges ahead, while continuing to supplement the vital services we rely upon every day.