The SIC’s new political leader has pledged to work with fellow councillors for the good of the isles community – with a focus on transport and education.
Cecil Smith, who was given the task unopposed at yesterday’s first meeting of the new authority, has listed transport and education as his two main priorities in the coming years.
The Lerwick South member, who served as Integration Joint Board chairman in the previous authority, said it was an “honour and a privilege” to lead the SIC.
The former police officer replaces Gary Robinson who lost his West Side seat in this month’s local election. Mr Smith says the council will maintain a strong negotiating hand with the Scottish government.
Backed by new depute leader Steven Coutts, Mr Smith will work alongside Lerwick North member Malcolm Bell, who is beginning his second stint as convener with the support of new depute convener Beatrice Wishart.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to have been appointed to the political leader position, and I’d like to thank my colleagues for putting their trust in me,” the SIC leader said.
It’s time we lobbied the Scottish government for more funding for education. They want us to deliver the same level of education, or better education in Shetland, but it’s a question of resources and where is that coming from? CECIL SMITH
He said support was needed to cover costs in inter-island ferries.
And Mr Smith added councillors would also be paying close attention to the needs of education.
“It’s time we lobbied the Scottish government for more funding for education. They want us to deliver the same level of education, or better education in Shetland, but it’s a question of resources and where is that coming from?”
He stressed that councillors would work together and with officials to gain the best results.
“It’s my intention that this is going to be ‘our council’,” he added.
“It’s not about me. It will be about teamwork, and I intend to bring everybody together and support them. I need to work closely with senior officers. Amongst us all we can make this happen for Shetland.”
Mr Smith admitted there would be challenges to come, but stressed: “If we lobby them as a team rather than individuals then we have a chance.”
Yesterday’s meeting, which ran on until after The Shetland Times deadline, saw individual members appointed to the main council committees.
However, Lerwick South member Amanda Westlake was left without any roles after failing to secure a place on the education and families committee following a ballot vote.
Ms Westlake declined to speak on record to The Shetland Times. However, Frances Valente, who narrowly lost out in the election to Mrs Westlake was not impressed.
Having missed out on a council seat by “2.8 votes” she had a keen eye on what committee involvement Mrs Westlake would take.
“You can imagine my surprise when it turned out that she has failed to take on any committee representation during her second term as councillor,” said Mrs Valente, in a letter sent to The Shetland Times.
“I would be interested to know how she thinks she is going to represent Lerwick South and to defend her manifesto commitments when she won’t be taking an active part.
“I was very disappointed to not be elected and so it is really annoying to find out that Amanda is squandering this opportunity that she has been given. There can be no justification whatsoever for her behaviour.”
• Members appointed to education were: Emma Macdonald, Davie Sandison, Catherine Hughson, Robbie McGregor, Beatrice Wishart, John Fraser, Ryan Thomson and Peter Campbell.
Sitting on the development committee will be: Alec Priest, Andrea Manson, Theo Smith, Mark Burgess, Allison Duncan, Peter Campbell and John Fraser.
Meanwhile, the environment and transport committee will feature: Mr Priest, Ms Manson, Steven Coutts, Mr Sandison, George Smith, Mr Campbell and Stephen Leask.
The harbour board will be made up of Mr Coutts, Mr Burgess, Mr Duncan, Alastair Cooper, Mr Leask and Ryan Thomson.
Mr McGregor will join Ms Manson, Mr Fraser, Mr Thomson, Ian Scott, Cecil Smith and Mr Leask on the audit committee.
Theo Smith, Ms Manson, Duncan Simpson, Ms Macdonald, Mr Coutts, Mr Sandison, George Smith, Cecil Smith and Mr Bell will make up the planning committee.