Counting underway at council elections

WELCOME to Shetland News’ coverage of the council election count, which is taking place this morning at the Town Hall in Lerwick.
A total of 17 candidates will be elected today for a five-year term on Shetland Islands Council.
Results for the five wards contested will roll in during the morning with the first announcement (Shetland West) expected for 10am. This will be followed by Shetland Central and Shetland South around an hour later. Lerwick and Bressay’s councillors are expected to be named afterwards.
Shetland North and North Isles wards are not involved today as they were uncontested when the candidates were announced.
Shetland News will provide rolling coverage through the day.


6 May 2022 15:32

A round-up of the results of the election can be found here.


6 May 2022 13:37

So that’s that – we now know who 22 of the 23 members of the council will be, with a by-election set to be held in due course for the remaining vacant seat in the North Isles.

The make-up of the council – so far – is as follows:

North Isles: Duncan Anderson, Ryan Thomson
Shetland North: Emma Macdonald, Andrea Manson, Tom Morton (Labour)
Shetland Central: Catherine Hughson, Moraig Lyall, Davie Sandison, Ian Scott
Lerwick North and Bressay: Stephen Leask, Gary Robinson, Arwed Wenger
Lerwick South: Dennis Leask, John Fraser, Neil Pearson, Cecil Smith
Shetland South: Alex Armitage (Greens), Allison Duncan, Robbie McGregor (SNP), Bryan Peterson


6 May 2022 12:49

Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Gary Robinson

After an absence of five years, former SIC leader Gary Robinson has been returned as one of the three councillors for the Lerwick North and Bressay ward.

He said he was not interested in one of the top jobs on the new administration, but as chair of NHS Shetland wanted to concentrate on delivering a new hospital for Shetland.

One of the first jobs for the new council, he said, is to make the new Islands Act work for Shetland.

“We fought for and won the Islands Act and it has scarcely been touched, it has not been used, and one of the key thing in that is that it allows us to ask for the powers and the budgets to do more locally, and to take things back from the government.

“Things like fuel poverty is a key example, I think we we can say to the government: ‘give us the powers and give us the money, we will engage with partners locally and deliver on that’.”


6 May 2022 12:45

Neil Pearson.

Clearly delighted – and taken aback – is Neil Pearson, who has been elected in Lerwick South.

“I’m so thankful for Lerwick South constituents putting their faith in me, and I hope I can do it justice,” Pearson said.

“I want to work really hard for them now.”

He said his key priority is retaining Shetland’s young workforce.

It comes at a time of growing industry and opportunities in Shetland in sectors such as renewables.

Tied into this is improving and increasing the housing stock, Pearson added.


6 May 2022 12:42

Dennis Leask.

Independent member Dennis Leask is another first-time councillor having been returned in Lerwick South.

“I’m elated that the public in my ward has put so much confidence in me,” he said. “I hope I can do them proud.”

“I think the cost of living is the big one to begin with,” he added when asked about the next five years.

Leask added that achieving general agreement among councillors would be a good starting point as the next term begins.


6 May 2022 12:40

Lerwick South councillor Cecil Smith.

Lerwick South councillor Cecil Smith, who has been re-elected for the fourth time since 2007, said he was looking forward to a busy council term which requires things being done and not just being discussed, like fixed links.

“I think the biggest issue ahead for us is poverty and the high energy costs. There are a lot of things that need to be looked at seriously,” Smith said.

“The reserves have never been there for subsidising the Scottish Government, but we continue to take money out of the reserves because we want to deliver the best service possible for the people of Shetland.

“Now we are faced with poverty in the islands, we have never seen that since the 1960s and we need to do something about it. We’ve got £400 million plus in our reserves, and to draw down a couple of extra million is something we should be looking at, and we should do that immediately.”


6 May 2022 12:32

John Fraser.

John Fraser has been elected for Lerwick South after sitting as a councillor for Lerwick North for the last five years.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be elected to represent Lerwick South,” he said.

“The level of support that’s been given to me is beyond anything I ever expected. Now the hard work begins.”

He congratulated his Lerwick South colleagues and gave commiserations to the other candidates.

“I think it’s very important to say that everybody ran a very good, thorough and respectful campaign.”


6 May 2022 12:24

Arwed Wenger.

New Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Arwed Wenger has thanked everyone who voted for him.

He said his main issues going forward include fixed links and fuel poverty.

“I want to thank the people who made this all possible – the voters, the team here.”


6 May 2022 12:14

The breakdown of first preference votes in Lerwick South (all independent):

Peter Coleman: 106
John Fraser: 262
Amanda Hawick: 153
Dennis Leask: 302
Shayne McLeod: 99
Neil Pearson: 171
Cecil Smith: 251


6 May 2022 12:12

The breakdown of Lerwick North and Bressay first preference votes (all independent):

Stephen Ferguson: 66
Stephen Leask: 310
Gary Robinson: 301
Arwed Wenger: 136
Marie Williamson 115


6 May 2022 12:08

In Lerwick South the winning candidates are all independent: John Fraser, Dennis Leask, Neil Pearson, Cecil Smith

The turnout was 44.8 per cent.


6 May 2022 12:06

The results are in for Lerwick North and Bressay, all independent: Stephen Leask, Gary Robinson, Arwed Wenger

The turnout was just 39 per cent.


6 May 2022 11:53

Shetland Central councillor Ian Scott.

Re-elected Shetland Central councillor Ian Scott said he was pleased to have been returned to the chamber for another five years as it proves “that not everyone has gone down the Tory austerity route, and there are enough folk who are concerned about how things are going to develop”.

Criticising the leadership of previous councillors he said he hoped newly elected members would take back control after local politics had been left in a vacuum for far too long.

“What we need is a leadership that is prepared to take the councillor with them, which is something that has not been the case in the last five years.

“The leader we had last time round never discussed anything with the members, he was far too close to the officers, who to my mind were in complete control of the council, and if you would speak to them they would not deny it either.

“The vacuum we left the officers were fallen into, and it’s not their fault.”


6 May 2022 11:37

In Shetland South SNP member Robbie McGregor said he is “absolutely delighted” to be elected.

It means there are now three parties in chamber: SNP, the Scottish Greens (Alex Armitage) and Scottish Labour (Tom Morton).

“I look forward to working with them and as the years go by I’m quite convinced there will be more and more party candidates that will stand,” McGregor said.

Fixed links and addressing fuel poverty are two key issues for McGregor in the next five years.


6 May 2022 11:25

Three of the four newly elected Shetland South councillors: Robbie McGregor, SNP, independent Bryan Peterson, and Alex Armitage, Greens.

Shetland South is the only of the five contested wards where party candidates found the favour of voters. Both Robbie McGregor, SNP, and Alex Armitage, Greens, were elected alongside independent candidates Allison ‘Flea’ Duncan and Bryan Peterson.

Armitage said he was committed to working collaboratively with colleagues to find solutions to many of Shetland’s problems, with the main issue being fuel poverty.

“I think we need to gather as many councillors as we can and to work collaboratively to solve the real problems that we are faced in Shetland, and the number one issue for me is fuel poverty.

“Shetland is changing, people are seeing the benefits of having party political candidates. We have written a comprehensive manifesto, we were straightforward with the public that this is what we are standing for.

“One of the advantages of being a party political candidate is that we have MSPs and government ministers and we can use our party political connections to take Shetland’s issues to the centre Holyrood, and I think that will be of huge benefit to Shetland.”


6 May 2022 11:24

Bryan Peterson.

A happy Bryan Peterson is another first-time councillor after being elected in Shetland South.

He racked up 500 votes in total – the second highest number behind the Flea (805).

When asked about the next five years, Peterson said: “There’s quite a lot of consensus…I think everybody is agreement that we need to do everything we can with the cost of living crisis.

Fixed links and more autonomy were other issues raised during the campaign, he said, as well as transport and housing.


6 May 2022 11:13

Shetland Central councillor Davie Sandison.

Re-elected Shetland Central councillor Davie Sandison said the focus of his work over the next five years has to be housing.

“It really feels good to get the endorsement again,” he said.

“Once you have been a councillor for a couple of terms then you will be voted upon your track record and I am very pleased with that because when I was round the doors I was getting good conversations with folk who were appreciating things that had been done, and also giving me plenty of grief about stuff that still needed to be done.

“The key is housing, all sorts of issues that we raise in Shetland come back to the availability of housing whether that is the number of people in the workforce, to get the right tradesmen in to do the crucial jobs we need to do on housing, we need to reinvigorate this and find new ways of delivering on some of housing issues.”


6 May 2022 11:07

The breakdown of first preference votes for Shetland South (independent unless stated otherwise)

Alex Armitage (Greens): 274
Stewart Douglas: 46
Allison Duncan: 805
Robbie McGregor (SNP): 217
Bryan Peterson: 500

The turnout was 55.4 per cent.

Duncan and Peterson were elected at the first stage, and Armitage and McGregor were elected at stage four.


6 May 2022 11:05

The results are in for Shetland South: Allison Duncan (independent), Bryan Peterson (independent), Robbie McGregor (SNP) and Alex Armitage (Greens) have been elected.


6 May 2022 10:58

The first preference votes breakdown for Shetland Central (independent unless otherwise stated):

Catherine Hughson: 282
Moraig Lyall: 414
Brian Nugent (Sovereignty): 26
Martin Randall (Greens): 99
Davie Sandison: 322
Ian Scott: 271

Lyall and Sandison were elected at stage one, and Hughson and Scott were elected at stage two.


6 May 2022 10:56

The results for Shetland Central: independent candidates Catherine Hughson, Moraig Lyall, Davie Sandison and Ian Scott have been elected.

All four are sitting councillors.


6 May 2022 10:49

Only one candidate will miss out in Shetland South after just five came forward for the ward’s four seats.

Like Shetland West, there are two parties in the running – SNP (Robbie McGregor) and the Greens (Alex Armitage).

McGregor was elected unopposed in 2017 after not enough candidates came forward to spark an election.

Elsewhere in the ward longstanding member Allison Duncan stood again, while newbies Bryan Peterson and Stewart Douglas are also in the running.

The ward has, perhaps, seen the most drama in the election campaign – all down to Armitage’s homemade election signs.

First they were taken down on the A970 roadside after falling foul of guidance, and more recently they were the subject of vandalism – which prompted a police investigation.


6 May 2022 10:24

In Shetland Central six candidates came forward for the four seats, including four current councillors.

Catherine Hughson, Moraig Lyall, Davie Sandison and Ian Scott are all seeking re-election to the chamber.

They were joined on the ballot paper by Sovereignty’s Brian Nugent and the Greens’ Martin Randall.

Following the recent boundary changes the ward now stretches further west.


6 May 2022 10:18

The turnout for Shetland Central – which is being announced next – was 44.9 per cent.


6 May 2022 10:12

Shetland West councillor John Leask.

Shetland West councillor John Leask said he feels honoured to have been elected in a very tight race for the second place.

He said he had been thinking of putting his name forward for some time but it only has been during the last few years that this has become a realistic opportunity for him.

“There are quite a few things that have been coming up over the last years that needs attention being paid to, and I think I can do a good job in trying to improve the standard of living,” he said.

“I think there are some things that will affect the west more than other parts of Shetland. The main problems I see are the issues around fuel poverty, the housing stock is older and insulation is poorer, and the nationalised focus on the social care service. We need to make sure that our standards are kept up.”


6 May 2022 10:04

Liz Boxwell. Photo: Shetland News

Liz Boxwell, a first time councillor, says she is “absolutely delighted” to have been elected in Shetland West.

“I think [the campaign] went really well,” she told Shetland News. “I think because I have done various bits and pieces in the community before hand I knew a lot of folk already quite well.”

Boxwell said there were “lots of cups of tea and cakes” on the campaign trail.

The independent candidate picked up nearly 300 first preference votes.

Some of the issues on her election statement included better infrastructure for the west, education, the cost of living and social care.


6 May 2022 09:57

The number of first preference votes for Shetland West was as follows (all candidates independent unless otherwise stated):

Liz Boxwell: 298
Peter Fraser: 5
Andrew Holt: 43
John Leask: 135
Debra Nicolson (Greens): 69
Zara Pennington (SNP): 59
Mark Robinson: 128
Ian Tinkler: 21

Boxwell was elected at stage one, and John Leask was elected at stage eight.


6 May 2022 09:54

The results are already in for Shetland West: independent candidates Liz Boxwell and John Leask have been elected.


6 May 2022 09:28

The turnout in Shetland West is 56.5 per cent. There were 1,364 on the electorate, with 771 ballot papers verified.


6 May 2022 09:24

In Shetland West eight candidates were on yesterday’s ballot paper, but only seven were campaigning – with Peter Fraser ruling himself out of the contest early doors due to personal circumstances.

There are only two seats in the ward, which is one less than last time around due to boundary changes.

There are two party candidates – the SNP’s Zara Pennington and the Greens’ Debra Nicolson.

Also vying for votes were five independents: Liz Boxwell, Andrew Holt, John Leask, Mark Robinson and Ian Tinkler.

It will be a fresh intake of west councillors after two of last term’s members – Theo Smith and Steven Coutts – stood down, while Catherine Hughson is standing in Shetland Central following the boundary changes.

Shetland News