Shetland Islands Council
Brian is 69, married, with three children in their twenties. The family have lived in Hamnavoe, Burra for nearly 30 years.
Brian moved to Shetland to work at Shetland College as a lecturer.
He was the EIS FELA trades union Secretary at the college until early retirement.
He now works at Gilbert Bain Hospital as a relief Porter.
He is a volunteer at Shetland Foodbank on a Monday and a passkeeper at St Margaret’s.
Brian is originally from Coatbridge, he is the Albion Rovers FC Club Historian.
Answers to Shetland Times Questions
1) What is the top priority you want to achieve if elected?
Push for access to Charitable Trust funds to sponsor a home insulating programme to be organised and run by the council in conjunction with the national insulation programme for those suffering from fuel poverty, a percentage of the population that will continue to increase with another increase due in October.
2) What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the council over its next five year term?
The combination of fuel poverty and food price inflation is going to be a major problem for voters, with the knock on effect for the council that increases in council tax, rent and other charges will cause much anguish, lead to arrears and a downturn in use of council facilities.
3) What has been the council’s best achievement over the past term?
4) What has been the council’s biggest failing over the past term?
A lot of talk, not enough action. Talking about Fixed Links but achieving what? Diesel chewing ferries must be a thing of the past to bring down our carbon footprint. Talking about Fuel Poverty but doing very little about it.
5) What approach do you feel the council should take around spending its reserves?
We have been told that the money is there for a rainy day, well if it is not raining now, will it ever rain? This is not a call for indiscriminate spending, but for planned, directed spending to solve local issues, such as fuel poverty and to investigate tunnel issues.
6) Should Scotland be given another referendum on independence?
Yes. In 2014, in the week running up to the referendum, the Daily Record carried The Vow, the three main UK parties promised that ‘the Scottish Parliament is permanent and extensive new powers for the Parliament will be delivered’, the UK won the vote, nothing has happened, Scotland was cheated!
7) Do you support the expansion of oil and gas development around Shetland?
UK is a net importer of oil, the shortfall has to come from somewhere, produce our own or import? Oil from foreign fields, where procedures and environmental standards are out of our control, then has to travel to us on diesel chewing tankers. How is that better for the environment?
8) Should Lerwick Up-Helly-A’ allow women to join?
Is this a decision for council candidates or the council? The women of Lerwick/Shetland are the back bone of Up-Helly-A, without them the halls could not operate, the whole process would collapse. Ask the women of Lerwick/Shetland what they think.
Letter to Shetland News and Shetland Times
Same old, same old, is no longer an option.
What is the point of the Shetland Charitable Trust if not to come to the aid of those in need in Shetland?
In fact that is precisely what the Shetland Charitable Trust governing deed requires the trustees to do; act in the best interests of the inhabitants of Shetland.
There is a long list under the Shetland Charitable Trust’s Objects of Trust which make the case.
At (a) is ‘the prevention or relief of poverty’, while at (j) ‘the relief of those by reason of age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage’.
Energy prices jumped in April, and are due to jump again in October, the trust can act in the best interests of the inhabitants of Shetland by preventing or relieving poverty.
From an individual and trust point of view, the best effect of an insulation programme is the long term benefit. Heating bills drop immediately while that saving will be repeated over succeeding years.
An insulation programme would also reduce Shetland’s carbon footprint which ties in with the Objects of Trust (i) ‘the advancement of environmental protection or improvement’.
In the short term, only central government can cut energy costs. If they wanted to, they could eliminate VAT on energy purchases, something the Tories pledged but, to date, have not delivered.
Another option for government is taking green subsidies off energy bills which would reduce bills by 25 per cent.
Answers to MYSPs questions
1. What do you think are the top three priorities are for young people on Shetland?
Cost of Living
2. How are you going to represent and engage young people?
Be available, listen and, where possible, help
3. How do you plan to improve Shetland for young people?
Hopefully, after Covid we can get schooling back to something approaching normal.
Look at the bus service, see if services can be increased trying to keep prices as low as possible.
Try to keep council services costs as low as possible.
4. Do you think that more funding should be put into mental health services for young people?
Across the board after Covid, many people are struggling, add to that for young people two years of disrupted schooling and all the anxiety that goes with that, the lack of a normal social life and cancellation of so much else, yes more funding for mental health services for young people is a must, as it for older people.
5. What message would you like to send young voters on Shetland?
I was involved in Further and Higher Education at Shetland College, I hope I am approachable. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please consider the various candidates in your ward, and vote for who you think best suits your viewpoints.
And at the next election, if the councillor was not to your satisfaction, vote for someone else.
Answers to Shetland News Questions
How would you go about securing fixed links and what would you do in the meantime while the pressure on the ageing ferry fleet increases? How about any incentives to reduce car usage?
The council needs to approach both governments to see what funding is available for infrastructure works.
Play the carbon footprint card, both governments spoke a lot at COP26 about reducing the carbon footprint. The ferries are not environmentally friendly, they need to be replaced, one tunnel at a time. Has the council gaining borrowing facilities ever been investigated?
My part time job does not tie in with available bus services, so I have to drive. Shetland is so rural, there are so many people who are on part time work that do not tie in with bus services, could bus services be increased, would people use the busses?
More people working from home may reduce car usage by default after the pandemic.
How would you help implement an home insulation programme in addition to initiatives already available through the Scottish Government?
It would be useful to carry out a survey of homes to find out how houses are in relation to insulation. Work out some way to list homes worst to best.
Lived in homes should be insulated. Second homes and Airbnb properties should not be insulated by this scheme.
We would need to decide if public housing was the priority, or is a mix of public, private housing possible?
Wall or loft insulation or both?
What meterage to insulate in each home?And as wall sizes vary, could householders pay to complete a wall or loft? (There is a total figure allocated to each house under the current insulation scheme run by the council locally on behalf of the Scottish government, householders are allowed to pay over that figure to complete a wall or other works that could usefully be carried out at the time.) Would that approach be acceptable with a large waiting list?
Are there enough qualified tradesmen available in Shetland to carry out the work?
Should some of Shetland’s reserves be used to make houses more energy efficient, and if so, how?
We have the Shetland Charitable Trust to call on. It is money for a rainy day, well with energy prices sky rocketing, it is raining now, time to open the vaults.
The Trust governing deed requires that the Trustees act in the best interests of the inhabitants of Shetland.
Under the Objects of Trust a long list is headed at (a) by ‘the prevention or relief of poverty’, while at (j) ‘the relief of those by reason of age, ill-health, disability, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage’.
Energy prices jumped in April, and are due to jump again in October, the Trust can act in the best interests of the inhabitants of Shetland by preventing or relieving poverty.
From an individual and Trust point of view, the best effect of an insulation programme is the long term benefit. Heating bills drop immediately while that saving will be repeated over succeeding years.
Insulation would also reduce Shetland’s carbon footprint which ties in with the Objects of Trust (i) ‘the advancement of environmental protection or improvement’.
In the short term, only central government can cut energy costs. If they wanted to, they could eliminate VAT on energy purchases, something the Tories pledged. Another option for government is taking green subsidies off energy bills which would reduce bills by 25%.
Showing support for the local fishing industry is one thing, but what about the destructive fishing activity by French and Spanish boats taking place on Shetland’s doorstep right now?
Why are the Spanish and French gill net fishing boats behaving irresponsibly in Shetland waters? The answer is because they can, and are allowed to get away with it.
While fishing is the number one issue in Shetland, our two governments have other concerns. Fishing across the UK is small beer. When trying to join the, then, Common Market, the government in London, signed up for the Common Fisheries Policy without getting a translation of the policy. The UK government has made such a mess of Brexit that small beer issues like fishing are well down the list to be dealt with.
The Scottish government’s support for fishing is lip service. They are so interested in returning to the EU that they are unable to bring themselves to call out Spanish and French gill netters and ignoring their behaviour here in Shetland.
The Scottish government seem set on running down the compliance effort of Fisheries Protection system, diverting them and others in Marine Scotland to sea based wind farm duties.
The Spanish and French boats lay out miles of floating nets, often abandoning them, but closing off these areas to local boats. These nets catch fish and other marine life, strangled seals among them.
Shetland fishermen are cleaning up the mess of abandoned gill nets through the KIMO’s Fishing for Litter scheme.
Another issue with abandoned nets is that propellers get tangled causing danger to the boats, loss of time spent untangling while the local boats bring the nets on shore the Spanish and French cut and leave the nets to cause further danger.
The Spanish and French boats seem to think that they are a law unto themselves with the Persosa Dos and Alison Kay incident a case in point.
The Pesorsa Dos appeared to be trying to run a rope through Alison Kay’s propeller. The German Federal Bureau for Maritime Casualty, Pesorsa Dos is Spanish owned but registered in Germany, described the video evidence as dangerous but as the incident seemed deliberate rather than negligent they have passed the evidence on to the German police.
Shetland Islands Council should back up the Shetland Fishermens Association in aiming for a level playing field.
Everyone in Shetland should take part in the Scotland’s Future Catching Policy consultation and make their feelings known. The consultation close on 7 June.
If Norwegain gill netting boats can cooperate in Shetland waters, why can’t the Spanish and French?
In my opinion, Spanish and French boats, at the very least, should clean up their rubbish at sea. The Fisheries Protection Agency should put the effort into the oversight of these boats that they should have been doing all along.
Also, does showing support for the fishing industry mean your opposition to developing large floating offshore wind farms to decarbonise oil and gas, and to kickstart the hydrogen economy? Shetland Fishermen’s Association has warned that there is a danger of being ‘crowded out” of their own traditional fishing grounds. How will you represent the community on these issues?
The concept of floating off shore wind farms in the North Sea is one that fills me with something approaching dread. Floating wind farms, close enough to oil rigs to supply the electricity for them to function, in North Sea conditions will be highly dangerous. Madness.
This attempt to decarbonise oil and gas sounds like it has come from the same Department of Wishful Thinking that decided not to open up Cambo.
The UK is a net importer of oil, the shortfall has to come from somewhere, produce our own or import? Oil from foreign fields, where procedures and environmental standards are out of our control, then has to travel to us on diesel chewing tankers. How is that better for the environment?
Transferring to net zero is a commendable long term goal, but it cannot happen overnight. We need another twenty years of oil to drive our cars and the many products that oil is part of.
Shetland Fishermen already have to contend with Marine Protected Areas but with INTOG windfarm zones and SCOTWIND windfarm zones being added, fishermen are in danger of being ‘crowded out” of their own traditional fishing grounds.
The council should have an agreed policy position on all of the above with the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, and push it forward with the two governments.
I would say no to off shore floating wind farms, open up Cambo, restore Shetland’s traditional fishing grounds free of clutter, other the Marine Protected Areas.
I do not know enough about hydrogen energy to make any comment on that.
There is also inclusion and equality, i.e was the SIC right to say the question over equal access to Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa is not one for them to answer?
I do not think that inclusion of women in Up Helly Aa is a decision for the council.
This is a decision for the Up Helly Aa committee.
The women of Lerwick/Shetland are the back bone of Up-Helly-A, without them the halls could not operate, the whole process would collapse.
If the women of Lerwick/Shetland are sufficiently against Up Helly Aa, they can withdraw their labour.
We also wonder how the diversity in the community will be reflected in the composition of the new council?
Voters will decide on the make-up of the council from those that put themselves forward.
Is the question asking for some sort of quota system, how would that work?
And how can the 50 per cent of the community that don’t go voting can nevertheless be heard?
Once a councillor is elected, the councillor is representing the people in the ward not just those that voted. Councillors should make themselves available, and people should contact them, regardless of whether the individual voted for that councillor or at all.
And then there is climate change and the cost of living crisis. How can Shetland reduce its significant carbon footprint?
A house insulation scheme would reduce Shetland’s carbon footprint.
The ferry system is a minus as far as the environment is concerned. Could ferries being powered by electricity be investigated? Longer term, tunnels need to be investigated.
How can local wealth, of which there is plenty, be better shared among all islanders
Shetland Charitable Trust should fund a house insulation scheme, that way Shetland’s wealth is spread out to those currently most in need through fuel poverty.
Finally, what can SIC councillors do to get a lower electricity tariff for local homes and businesses?
There should be a united campaign across Shetland Islands Council, all local political parties, the MSP and the MP to campaign against higher electricity tariffs paid in Shetland .
The North of Scotland pays higher tariffs than other parts of the UK.
How has this situation come about, why is it continuing and why are the coldest places in Scotland subsidising the warmer areas in the UK?
Shetland Islands Council voted in 2020 to explore the options for achieving political and financial self-determination. For those candidates who were not part of the last council, what is your position on this topic?
Not aware of any available information on this topic on whatever investigations have taken place, so difficult to comment on what is ongoing.
Not against further investigations on this topic.
With so many in Shetland suffering fuel poverty, there was already an energy crisis before April’s energy price increases, and in October there will be more, says Brian Nugent, standing as the Sovereignty candidate in Shetland Central. The Tories long-term energy plans to build nuclear stations ten or more years from now does little to address the rising costs and fuel poverty issues we face right now.
For every Shetland election in which I have stood, I have talked about insulating homes. The point about insulation is that as the home’s heating requirements go down, and stay down, a saving is made every year for both inhabitants and the environment.
There is an insulation programme administered by Shetland Islands Council, with limited annual funds, which could be opened out further to get heating bills across the isles down and to reduce Shetland’s carbon footprint.
Furthermore, for families struggling to make ends meet, crisis grants are available via the Scottish Welfare Fund and administered through the council. More must also be done to raise awareness of the support available via Social Security Scotland, most notably the Scottish Child Payment. These weekly payments are accessible to Universal Credit claimants with children under 16 years of age and will be fully rolled out by the end of 2022.
The UK is also a net importer of oil, so the shortfall has to come from somewhere, but where? We will need oil and gas for decades yet the Greens and SNP do not want to open up Cambo. Therefore, we are required to import oil from foreign fields, where procedures and environmental standards are out of our control, and then it has to travel to us on tankers. How is that better for the environment?
Shell is investing £25 billion in the UK energy system over the next decade, BP is investing £2 for every £1 it makes in the UK and Neptune Energy is looking to go beyond net-zero by 2030. We should focus our efforts on holding energy companies to these promises for energy transition from oil to net-zero. Energy security will be far better off for it.
Furthermore, we must question where the infrastructure is for electric cars? How many public charging-points are there in Shetland, and how many work? Electric cars seem like a nice idea but often use exploited labour, large amounts of rare metals and rare earths mined in places like Russia, then processed in China, which are not bio-degradable and thus harm the environment.
So, a boon for countries whose human rights records are deplorable and one that is at war. Electric cars are not yet an immediate replacement for petrol or diesel driven cars, so opening up Cambo makes short term sense, even if the Greens and SNP cannot see that.
In the short term, only central government can cut energy costs. If they wanted to, they could eliminate VAT on energy purchases, now we are outside the European Union and which is something the Tories pledged. Another option for government is taking green subsidies off energy bills which would reduce bills by 25%.