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Council / Leask wants to oversee forward-looking development committee

Dennis Leask. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE NEW chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s development committee said he is “delighted” to land the role.

Business owner Dennis Leask was appointed to the position at a meeting of the full council on Monday – less than three weeks after being elected for the first time as a councillor for Lerwick South.

Speaking on Wednesday, Leask said development is where his “main interest lies and where I feel I can contribute most”.

The committee covers a wide range of areas, such as economic development, housing and planning.

Leask, though, said he does not want to put his own agenda “centre stage” prior to the committee meeting for the first time.

“Committees are much stronger and achieve much more when there is a shared vision,” he explained.

“To date we have not had the opportunity to bring together everybody’s thoughts and agree on an agenda.”

During Monday’s meeting Leask stressed the need to take on new opportunities as well as support Shetland’s traditional industries.

“I want to build a team…that looks forwards, not backwards,” he told colleagues.

Leask also said that “we need to get our hunger back if we’re going to make the best of this term in office”.

The councillor said after the meeting that he was delighted with the membership of the committee, “who all bring different expertise therefore something positive to the table”.

The committee will see fellow new councillor John Leask in the vice-chairman role. He also tried for the chair job but fell short in a vote.

Completing the committee is Ryan Thomson, Tom Morton, Liz Peterson, Davie Sandison, Cecil Smith, Gary Robinson, Allison Duncan and Emma Macdonald.

The chair position was previously held by veteran councillor Alastair Cooper, who stood down in May’s election having served in public roles for decades.

Leask said: “Clearly that is a door I need to knock on and see what I can learn”.

He also reiterated that many wider issues due to face the council in the next five years will span across committees.

“Amongst councillors three does seem to be a recognition that many issues bridge across committees/department therefore an opportunity exists to gather wider input and support on how to move things forward,” Leask said.