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Council / Brothers in arms? Robinson siblings on council after Mark wins west by-election

Brothers Gary (left) and Mark (right) Robinson after the by-election declaration on Friday morning. Photo: Shetland News

INDEPENDENT candidate Mark Robinson enjoyed a comfortable victory in Shetland West by-election on Friday morning – joining brother Gary on the council.

It is thought to be the first time two siblings have sat on Shetland Islands Council together at the same time.

Robinson secured 375 first preference votes in the Shetland West by-election, which was triggered by the resignation of John Leask earlier in the year.

In second place was the Greens’ Debra Nicolson (67) and coming third was the SNP’s Zara Pennington (49).

In the end Robinson secured around three quarters of the votes cast.

All three candidates contested May’s main election, with Robinson falling just short that time around.

The turn-out for the by-election was 37 per cent, with 493 ballot papers received. Robinson joins Liz Peterson in representing the west ward.

Robinson said after the declaration that he was a “bit shocked, but excited”.

The first ballot boxes being opened. Photo: SIC

“It’ll be a challenge, but one that I’m looking forward to,” he said.

“I was hugely disappointed to lose out in May, and I didn’t expect this opportunity to arise so soon.”

Robinson felt the Shetland West ward has been “neglected” in the past.

“The main thing is to make sure that the westside gets a fair representation,” he continued.

The new councillor spoke up for the need for growth and new business in the ward, and to address what he feels is a lack of social housing.

“The roads are in need of upgrading. It’s on the to-do list, but it needs to brought up the priorities.”

Robinson said he may look to brother Gary, who previously served as the SIC leader, for advice as he gets to grips with his new role.

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“We can get on and work together I’m sure without too much difficulty,” he said.

Gary Robinson, meanwhile, said it will be quite strange to see his brother in the council chamber.

“We usually get on most of the time, but not always – I don’t think we’ll fall out – at least I hope not,” he laughed.

But the experienced elected member said it is a “really difficult time to come onto the council” due to the financial situation.

“We had the Westminster budget statement yesterday, and we look forward to John Swinney’s one next month,” Gary Robinson said. “And then of course we’re going to have to set our own budget.

“I think that’s going to be really, really challenging this year. We’re seeing more demand for services than ever before, but we’ve got less financial resources at hand to deliver.”

Local politics historian James Stewart said there have been cases of brothers serving as councillors at the same time – many, many decades ago – but the Robinsons are the first to sit together on Shetland Islands Council, which was formally established in 1975.

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