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Election / Ex-community development worker to stand in North Isles by-election

Robert Thomson.

A FORMER community development worker has put his name forward for the North Isles council by-election.

Robert Thomson is perhaps best known for being involved in community development in Fetlar for a number of years up until 2018.

He has since started a yacht charter company.

The by-election for the North Isles is taking place on 4 August after only two candidates went for the three seats in May’s main election.

Among the issues on his agenda are fixed links, housing and broadband connectivity.

Thomson, from Yell, said having spent 12 years in community development roles, he had something to offer as a councillor.

When it came to fixed links, he said he would challenge some of the costings previously provided for tunnels.

“At some point you have to bite the bullet with this,” Thomson added.

He also pointed to recent ferry staffing issues on Bluemull Sound and said there “needs to be a much more robust way” of working such as trying to get a team of crew on standby.

He also warned that businesses in the isles which rely on tourism will face an uncertain future, following the Covid pandemic, if the ferry issues affect tourism.

Thomson also called for better science on fishing quotas, and a practical way to end discards.

He also reckons both the council and Shetland Charitable Trust could dig a bit deeper to support the worst affected by the cost of living crisis.

Similarly, he is keen to see existing council homes better insulated, and for more social housing built in more rural areas, which could help business prospects.

“What you’re left with is old council stock which is poorly insulated, expensive to run…and the folk in social housing is the folk that could least afford generally to pay big bills,” he said.

Thomson said he is also keen on more powers for Shetland – such as in areas like planning – and called for more clarity to the community on the ‘White House’ saga which spanned the last number of years.

One other candidate has also publicly put her name forward for the by-election – Marie Williamson, who missed out in a Lerwick ward in May’s election.

Thomson throwing his hat into the ring means there will definitely be an election contest on 4 August.