- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Winners announced in two council by-elections

Stephen Flaws has emerged victorious in the Lerwick South by-election despite coming second place in first preference votes.

Meanwhile, voters in Shetland Central have given their support to Moraig Lyall, who ran out a comfortable winner in the ward’s by-election.

Voters in the two wards went to the ballot box yesterday (Thursday) to choose two new members of the Shetland Islands Council.

The by-election in Lerwick South was triggered by Beatrice Wishart’s resignation after the Liberal Democrat succeded in gaining a seat at Holyrood.

In Shetland Central the by-election came after Scalloway-man Mark Burgess decided to stand down for personal reasons.

Turnout was down in both wards, with 31 per cent of the electorate casting a vote in Shetland Central and 31.2 per cent in Lerwick South. This is in contrast to turnouts of 40.9 per cent and 43.7 per cent respectively in 2017.

Electronic counting took less than an hour on Friday morning with the results announced at around 10.40am.

Mrs Lyall won 344 first preference votes, far ahead of her closest rival Julie Buchan who secured 116. The result in Lerwick South was much tighter with Mr Flaws earning his place based on lower preference votes. He came second to former council leader Gary Robinson in terms of first preference votes by a margin of 374 to 350.

Speaking after the results were declared Mrs Lyall said: “I had quite a positive feeling about it as I went out and about but it’s still quite shell shocking to actually see it there in black and white that I’m elected.”

Of the issues which dominated the campaign, she said: “I would say that the one thing that people spoke to me about more than any other issue was windfarms and Viking Energy.

“When I got speaking to them the first thing they said was ‘what do you think about Viking Energy?’, that was the thing they needed to know.

“There are other issues that folk are concerned about too. Some folk mentioned housing, but Viking was way head and shoulders above everything else.”

At a hustings debate in Scalloway last month Mrs Lyall spoke of her opposition to the windfarm development.

Asked why she felt voters had backed her so resoundingly Mrs Lyall said: “I think they were confident that I was somebody who is interested in people and in our environment and would prioritise those two.

“For me it wouldn’t always necessarily be down to what was financially the best outcome but that I would try and do what was right for people within the limits of the budgets available.”

Over the next couple of years Mrs Lyall hopes to “prove to people that I have what it takes to do this job” and “to make some difference to the lives of people in the ward and Shetland wider and to repay the faith that people have shown in me by voting for me.”

Mr Flaws, after learning of his success, said: “I’m delighted. It’s been a bit of a shock, but I’m really chuffed and looking forward to knuckling down and getting on with it.”

He added: “The campaigning has been really positive, I think. It’s been interesting speaking to folk and hearing what they’re saying and it can range fae small things such as streetlights being out but also larger-scale issues like how Shetland is going to be sustainable in the future.”

Asked about his aims over the remaining life of this council, Mr Flaws said: “You can’t go into this halfway through a term expecting to change the world or reinvent the wheel but you have to go into it doing the best you can to represent folk in the ward.”