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Council / SIC leader joins the Lib Dems but continues as independent councillor

EMMA Macdonald, the leader of Shetland Islands Council, has joined the Liberal Democrats, it has emerged.

Elected on an independent ticket in May 2022, the Shetland North councillor said she will continue doing her council work without any party affiliation.

SIC political leader Emma Macdonald. Photo: Shetland News

Shetland Islands Council is one of very few local authorities in Scotland where the majority of councillors have traditionally stood as independents though many have more less well-hidden party sympathies or affiliations.

Councillors regularly describe the work of the SIC as non-political.

Of the 23 elected members, three are party-political.

They are – in alphabetical order – Alex Armitage for the Greens, Robbie MacGregor for the SNP and Tom Morton for Scottish Labour.

Speaking to Shetland News over the weekend, Macdonald said nothing will change in her politics on the council or the way she represents her constituents.

But with a general election almost certainty coming up next year – the latest the next election to the UK Parliament can be in January 2025 – she said she wanted to be open about how she intended to vote at a national level.

Macdonald said: “I will be staying as an independent councillor. I was elected as an independent and nothing has changed in that area.

“I don’t think it will have any impact on my role within the council, I have spoken to a few colleagues about it and made it very clear that I really enjoy being leader of Shetland Islands Council and doing that as an independent councillor is how I plan to continue.

“I am sure all of my colleagues within the chamber have parties that they support when it comes to national politics, I am just choosing to be open about mine as we approach an election; I feel it is better for me to do so.”

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She added: “I think it is actually really helpful to be an independent when making representations on behalf of the council to both the UK Government and the Scottish Government.”

Councillors are required to declare membership of a political party in the register of interests, which is a public document and available at the SIC’s website.

No other elected members, other than those mentioned, currently have public affiliations to political parties according to the register.

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