20th May 2018
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Fullerton bows out as more new SIC candidates emerge

The chairwoman of one of the SIC’s most important committees, Betty Fullerton, has decided she will not seek re-election in May.

The former NHS Shetland chief, who first became a councillor in 2007, has chaired the council’s education and families committee since last year. She told this newspaper she had decided her family had to come first.

Her departure takes the number of members standing down ahead of the 3rd May ballot into double figures.

“I have finally made up my mind not to stand for re-election to the next council,” Mrs Fullerton told The Shetland Times. “It has been a hard decision as I have a great interest in Shetland. However I have decided that at this time my family is more important.”

Meanwhile, former Whalsay head teacher and current Shetland Arts chairman Jim Johnston has announced he will stand in the North Isles. He became Scotland’s youngest secondary head teacher in 1984 in the Western Isles, eventually spending 17 years teaching at Whalsay.

When living in Harris, he managed Leverhulme Memorial School, chaired the community’s council for social services and worked as an auxiliary coastguard. He and his wife Marilyn also owned a successful tearoom and restaurant in Tarbert until the birth of their son, Ross.

Mr Johnston spent two years as a senior education official with the SIC, which he said taught him a lot about how the council works.

He said: “My hope is that within the next council, there is a core of councillors with real ability and vision, with an urge to work as a team to get things done. I look forward with relish to the challenge of working with them, if elected.”

Mr Johnston believes Shetland is in a very strong position for future negotiations with Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels. Possible areas he would like to see discussed include the creation of restricted grounds around the islands for the local fishing fleet, whether Shetland can be granted tax benefits similar to those in the Channel Islands and whether it can keep income from renewable energy projects.

“Let us see how we can get the best deal for Shetland,” he said. “The current constitutional debate and its outcome with a vote in 2014 could put us in a very strong position. If, as Alex Salmond insists, the oil revenues are all down to geography, then, given oil field distribution, we must be in a strong position to benefit.”

With just over a fortnight until the registration deadline, the SNP has confirmed the identity of its candidates for the two Lerwick wards. Teacher Danus Skene, 67, will stand in Lerwick North and nurse Ian Morrison, 42, will run in Lerwick South.

Mr Skene, one of this newspaper’s Spaekalation columnists, was an independent councillor in Perthshire in the 1980s. He stood as a parliamentary candidate four times, most recently for the Liberal Democrats in Moray in 1987.

His teaching experience has encompassed senior management positions, including sitting on the board of the Scottish Qualifications Authority and running two schools overseas. He continues to work to support schools in Kenya.

Mr Morrison has worked for NHS Shetland as a staff nurse on wards, in A+E and in operating theatres. Latterly he has had an educational role, supporting nurse training including working in partnership with Shetland College.

Well known on the Shetland music scene, Mr Morrison has participated in the Shetland Folk Festival and performed at many special events. In common with Gussie Angus, who is standing down from the same constituency, he teaches bagpipes to young people of all ages.

Mr Skene said: “This is an important election in Shetland: there are big decisions ahead, and the seas are rough. There are two basic reasons why the SNP is entering the fray.

“First, Scottish independence offers Shetland a great opportunity. An SNP presence on the council will enable us to secure good relations with the Scottish government, achieving the best deals for Shetland. We will work to ensure that a high degree of decentralised autonomy for Shetland is written into a future Scottish constitution.

“Secondly, voters need to know openly the political ideals and ambitions of their candidates and councillors. The SNP has sound policies in place to improve public services, and to deliver them through effective local government that can make its own mind up.

“The SNP insists on the highest standards of personal conduct in public life. If elected, Iain and I will be happy to be held to account by voters as SNP councillors.”

Last week Theo Smith, Jim Reyner, George Smith, Malcolm Bell and Steven Coutts all threw their hats into the ring. Ex-councillor Drew Ratter and Sustainable Shetland chairman Billy Fox had previously announced their candidacies. 

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