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Council / Macdonald and Thomson keen on SIC leader role

Emma Macdonald and Ryan Thomson.

TWO councillors have expressed their interest in taking on the local authority’s leader role.

Emma Macdonald, who was depute leader in the last council term, and Ryan Thomson – who chaired the environment and transport committee – are both keen on the job and are set to put their name forward.

The position – as well as other roles in the chamber such as convener and the committee chairs – is expected to be filled at a meeting of the full council on Monday.

The political leader seat was formerly held by Steven Coutts, who did not seek election when voters went to the polls on 5 May.

It is the highest paid position a councillor can take.

These roles are generally appointed to after fellow elected members nominate a councillor for the position, and it sometimes goes to a vote.

Macdonald confirmed on Tuesday that she wants to be considered for the role, and the councillor feels she has the ability and experience for the job.

In an email sent to fellow councillors which was leaked to the media, Macdonald said she feels “well placed” to undertake the leader role having run her own business for ten years.

The Shetland North member – who also chaired Shetland’s health and social care integration joint board – added that she has developed her skills while working as depute leader over the last four years.

In a document outlining her “new vision” for the SIC, Macdonald said she wants to create a “council that is the envy of the rest of Scotland”.

“I believe that with collaboration and excellent leadership this council could set an example to the rest of the community,” she said.

Macdonald also proposes greater public engagement and “building better relationships”.

Confirming his intention to seek nominations for the role, Thomson meanwhile said on Tuesday: “I have thrown my hat into the ring for the leader role, and will have discussions with colleagues over the coming days to seek support.

“It’s absolutely vital that we get the right people in the right roles from the start to give this council the best possible chance to succeed in our aims and our ambitions.”

He wrote in an email to fellow councillors – also leaked to the media – that he is an “ambitious individual” who has had experience of “working collaboratively with others for the benefit of Shetland”.

Thomson highlighted that his work around ferry funding, transport fares and the roll-out of doorstep recycling in Shetland.

The North Isles member said in the next five years “it’s essential that we work as a team of 23 councillors” – “it cannot be about any individual manifesto”.

He added that in the new council term priorities include “playing our part in solving the cost of living crisis” and making “serious progress on delivering fixed links for our islands”.

“But most importantly it’s about this council setting our agenda and delivering on that,” Thomson wrote.

Twenty two of Shetland’s 23 councillors have been elected – with the remaining vacant North Isles seat set for a by-election later this year.

UPDATE: since the publication of this story Thomson has decided against running for leader.