Scotty Van Der Tol has become the second candidate to throw his hat into the ring ahead of the upcoming by-election for the Shetland Central ward. The election takes place on Thursday 15th December.
He joins Ian Scott in the running to replace Iris Hawkins, who last month announced she was standing down only a few months ahead of next May’s council elections. Both Mr Van Der Tol and Mr Scott were unsuccessful candidates four-and-a-half years ago, when Mrs Hawkins won the most votes. She was joined on the council by Andrew Hughson and Betty Fullerton.
Back in 2007 Mr Van Der Tol and Mr Scott came fourth and eighth, respectively. The other three unsuccessful candidates were John Hunter, Jim Ivens and Geordie Pottinger. Sustainable Shetland vice-chairman Kevin Learmonth, who lives within the ward’s boundaries, said this week that he hadn’t decided for sure but would “probably not” be standing.
Another possible candidate is Shetland Aquaculture chief executive David Sandison, who said yesterday he was still mulling it over and that this weekend would be “d-day”. The SIC’s outgoing head of children’s services Stephen Morgan is also giving serious consideration to standing.
Last week Mr Scott – making his seventh attempt to become a councillor – hit out at the SIC’s recent round of public cuts consultations, dismissing them as a “morbid farcical sideshow designed to somehow justify the forthcoming cuts and job losses”. Mr Scott said he wanted the community to fight against cutbacks, suggesting they were not inevitable.
In a letter in tomorrow’s Shetland Times, Mr Van Der Tol rejected that argument, saying the public sector needed to get its house in order and that the SIC could only spend the budget it was allocated. “I believe in Shetland’s right to autonomy giving us access to all its oil revenues but until the people decide to do something about it the new must accept the budget given to us,” he writes.
He continues: “Things like digging up the same road twice in succession is unacceptable bad management, as well as buildings they do not need and rooms standing empty, or one person to do a job and umpteen others to manage them.”
Mr Van Der Tol – formerly known as Scotty Dyble – stood for the UK Independence Party in the 2005 parliamentary elections, before considering starting a Shetland party seeking devolution for the islands. Last December he added his voice to the campaign to save Scalloway’s junior high school from closure.