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Election / Candidate says it would be ‘inappropriate’ to give pledge to one industry group

WHILE the overwhelming majority of council election candidates have signed Shetland Fishermen’s Association’s pledge, some have decided against putting pen to paper.

Explaining his decision to “respectfully decline” the invitation to sign the pledge, Lerwick South candidate Dennis Leask said: “For me, a councillor is elected to serve their voters on ward issues and Shetland-wide where appropriate.

“To give a pledge to any one lobby group would be simply inappropriate.

“For example, I am quite sure that most people, including the fishing industry, would find it unacceptable if Nicola Sturgeon openly signed a pledge by the offshore wind energy sector or agriculture but not fishing.

Dennis Leask.

“Issues such as offshore wind versus fishing, NorthLink tourism capacity versus fish capacity, or where there may be competition for funding need to be considered on a case-by-case basis and not taken with the shadow of a pledge hanging over one’s shoulder.”

On the last day of campaigning (Wednesday), the fishing association said 27 out of 35 candidates had signed the pledge supporting the industry.

Executive officer Daniel Lawson said it was encouraging for fishing crews to see the take-up.

“Even among those candidates who felt unable to sign, there was broad support for the local fishing fleet, and a reluctance to sign any kind of pledge – rather than reluctance to support fishing in particular,” he said.

Leask added that if elected he would “of course” be a strong supporter of Shetland’s fishing industry.

“Surely that is a given for any Shetland councillor for such an important part of our island economy,” he said.

The council elections take place tomorrow (Thursday), with the results due on Friday.