North Isles By-election — three days to the poll
Voters have been encouraged to cast their ballot by post. Remember to return your vote to Orkney Islands Council or to the St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall, by 10pm on Thursday, October 1.
As the countdown continues, The Orcadian will be refreshing voters memories with some of the views expressed by the candidates, so far.
First of all, a simple question — who are the North Isles By-election candidates?
Coilla Drake (Scottish Labour Party)
I am standing in this election because I want to serve our communities. I want to improve the possibilities open to us, via physical and digital means, to improve our isles economies, communities, and environments for the benefit of all.
I have a wealth of life experience to bring to this role:
- I have lived on a very small farm in Westray for the last fifteen years, and since childhood, I have been aware and proud of my Orkney roots, which are spread across several of the North Isles.
- I spent 26 years working as a veterinary nurse in mixed practice, then three years as a Lecturer in Animal Care teaching a wide range of abilities including people with learning difficulties.
- For 12 years, I was a carer, looking after my husband, who had dementia, bowel cancer and multiple other health issues. I also cared for my father who was blind, hard of hearing, and had dementia and other health difficulties.
- I now work in the Westray Bakehouse, as an ambulance driver and as a lifeguard at the pool.
A major issue for all isles is transport, our essential lifeline links. Everything and everyone that comes in or goes out must do so via these links and they are no longer fit for our needs. Our ferries in particular are holding us back and the urgency of replacing them cannot be overstated. We also need a fairer fares policy for residents.
The isles have the lowest average earnings and we need job opportunities for all, especially our young people.
We have the highest fuel poverty in Orkney, and we need investment.
I will work closely with other Councillors, Community Councils, Development Trusts, and the people of the isles to identify and bring improvements to our communities and our people.
Daniel Adams (independent)
Having grown up in the north isles, I know how Beautiful and cultured our islands are. I will preserve and protect our heritage as well as work with our communities to grow and prosper.
Heather Woodbridge (independent)
I grew up in North Ronaldsay, surrounded by community and culture, attended the island primary school and then Kirkwall Grammar School.
At 18 I was lucky enough to take part in the Hordaland exchange, where I studied “Musikk” in Voss, Norway. I then studied Ecology at the University of Stirling (1st class Honours) where I wrote my dissertation on the management of North Ronaldsay sheep.
On the completion of my studies, I moved home to Orkney where I have been living and working since.
I am passionate about securing the regeneration and long-term resilience of North Isles communities. As a young person who grew up and then returned to the North Isles, I want to make this a possible and attractive opportunity for all young islanders. I have insider experience of the challenges shared by many islands and because of this, I believe that I am in an excellent position to serve all of the North Isles as a Councillor.
Standing in this election personally means a great deal to me, with a view to continue my father’s good work and vision for the North Isles. It was important to him to visit every island and I would do the same in this role.
If elected, I would offer a strong voice for the North Isles in the chamber. Although it’s a short term, I would act with transparency and consistency and carry the best interests of each island with me. Promote community-led design of essential and ‘non-essential’ services and regeneration to support the new generation of islanders. Push for coordinated working between islands to support each other and access mutual benefits.
I maintain that every Island deserves the same high standard of services you would expect, if living in Mainland Orkney or South – I will push for nothing less!
Claire Stevens (independent)
I have lived and worked in Orkney for 25 years, with the last 2 years in Eday.
At the age of 18 I joined the Royal Air Force. After leaving military service I worked as an engineer, which involved travelling to many parts of the UK and overseas. Since coming to Orkney I have been involved in mental health support, arts and crafts and photography.
One of my most satisfying work experiences was being part of a team formed to address the problems of septic tank effluent disposal. This combined my engineering expertise, people skills and my interest in island living, which brought me to Orkney in the first place.
One of the joys of living here is the strong sense of community, which is sadly being lost in other places. Community relies on individuals being willing to contribute time and energy for the benefit of others. I have volunteering experience and I now wish to offer my support and skills to the North Isles, where I live.
The North Isles are a cohesive group but each has its own personality and needs. I would listen to those needs and discuss possible solutions to present to Orkney Islands Council. I pledge to promote improvements and sustainability for the North Isles because I believe that if Orkney is to thrive then all of its parts must participate and benefit.
I agree with the generally accepted priorities of inter-island travel, employment and housing needs but these issues require an integrated approach; always looking for innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions. I hope to be part of that progress as one of your councillors for the North Isles.