Shetland Islands Council’s political leader Sandy Cluness confirmed this week that he is to retire at the next council elections in spring 2012.
The convener said it had always been his intention to stand down as he will be 70 by then. He has been an elected member on and off for a total of almost 25 years since first being elected in 1973. He has been in office for a decade having been re-elected in 1999 and replaced Tom Stove as convener following the 2003 elections.
Mr Cluness said his decision was not related to the troubles which have enveloped the council in recent weeks, adding that he intends to see out the next two and a half years as convener.
“I’ve been on and off a councillor for a long time, so it will be time to call it a day,” he said. “I had decided when I stood the last time that this would be my last spell. It will be total retirement – I’m looking forward to it.”
Referring to the SIC’s recent period of misfortune, Mr Cluness said there were always “good times and bad times” in politics.
“Sometimes you have difficulties but in the main the staff deliver day in, day out, good services to everybody and we’ve been able to build up quite a lot of assets thanks to them. Although these last few weeks are important to a number of folk, in the general scheme of things in an historic sense, I don’t pay too much importance to it.”
Mr Cluness’ ambition for the next two and a half years was to see progress on some of the big capital projects while coping with restricted spending from central government in the wake of the global financial crisis. He said seeing the people of Fetlar get their long-awaited breakwater would please him greatly and he would like to see good progress on the seemingly never-ending saga of the new Anderson High School.