Name: Stephen Ferguson Electoral Ward: Lerwick North and Bressay Description: Independent
I have decided to run for election as I feel that there has been a lack of progress in securing the best results for Islanders. I have watched the current council sit on the fence with issues such as the Viking Windfarm, Inclusivity in Up Helly Aa, Fixed links and charitable trust funding.
With the impending cost of living crisis, I believe we need fresh blood in the chamber to bring a different perspective. The challenges we face over the next few years need strong and determined candidates to push for change in how our people are supported.
We face an unprecedented cost of living crisis: If elected I will push for emergency funding for the most vulnerable to prevent a slide into poverty. We have reserves we can call on to ensure that nobody has to choose between eating and heating their home. Unacceptable.
Affordable housing: Alongside looking at further provision, we must do better at maintaining our existing properties for tenants. More flexibility on the points allocation to reflect the needs of Shetlanders is key. We are losing our youth and talent to the mainland as it is unaffordable to stay here. The state of temporary accommodation, which occupants are often in for years at a time, is shameful. We must do better.
Youth Provision: We need to provide our young folk with more activities and hubs for socialisation. We have slid backwards in providing positive environments for our youth. If elected I will push for establishing more council founded youth groups, particularly for those aged 13-18. The situation with the waiting room at the Bressay ferry terminal and the increased cases of vandalism and anti-social behaviour need addressed positively.
Economy: Championing Shetland as the energy hub of the UK is key. Both petro chemical and renewable energy will be major drivers in our economic stability going forward. We have received poor value for money from the Viking project and we must ensure this does not happen again. If elected, I will push for continued investment in our town centre. We must also explore all avenues to help start-up businesses whilst ensuring we are maximising our returns from future energy projects, any company that benefits from exploiting our natural resources must pay back into our economy.
Transport and infrastructure: Free provision of inter island ferry and bus travel for ALL islanders is key to making rural areas more liveable whilst reducing our carbon footprint. The exploration of fixed link services must be taken seriously. The cost of travel to the mainland is unacceptable, Serco and Logan Air do not represent value for money. If elected, I will challenge the chamber and the Scottish government to provide fairer subsidies for travel.
We face a tough road ahead, but I believe we are resilient enough to get through it as a community. I want to be part of a council that truly represents its constituents needs. If elected, I will do everything I can to fight for the best results for our people.