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There’s a Highland Council by-election on the horizon… here’s what the Wick and East Caithness candidates are promising to deliver

The by-election takes place next month.
The by-election takes place next month.

Five candidates are contesting the by-election for Wick and East Caithness on August 12.

We posed the same question of all five candidates: What will you deliver if elected?

Here are their responses:

Michael Cameron, Scottish National Party

Wick and East Caithness already has a hard-working SNP councillor for the ward, Raymond Bremner. A good working relationship with the other councillors is essential.

After years of under-investment in the local roads infrastructure, Raymond has pushed for increased finance in his capacity as leader of the opposition.

We can already see the benefits of this in the improvements that have been made across the ward and beyond. We need to continue securing increased funding for sustained recovery.

Wick and East Caithness by-election candidate Michael Cameron

Through the Coastal Commmunities Fund, we are seeing investment in the far north with many local community groups benefitting from this.

I want to continue that good work with increased invesment where it has long been perceived that we don’t get our fair share.

Securing future investment in our airport services is key to economic recovery.

I’m committed to securing increased funding to support Wick’s town centre regeneration including the provision of public toilets.

The new medical facilities and services that are planned in the near future along with putting in place additional effective mental health services are key focuses for the area.

I want to see an increased benefit for the town through the new common good fund and a greater empowering of our local communities with decisions made locally.

I will be an effective member of the SNP group but, if elected, I am committed to representing everyone.

The area of Wick and East Caithness has great potential and I’m humbled to be given the chance to represent the area.

Harry Christian, Scottish Libertarian Party

If elected as the Scottish Libertarian Party candidate, my focus will be on delivering value for money.

For years now, half of all council tax money raised has been spent on servicing debt.

This is because administration after administration has been squandering your money and borrowing more and more.

It has now reached the stage where Highland Council is struggling to fund basics like public toilets and road repairs; basics that we need.

Wick and East Caithness by-election candidate Harry Christian.

Almost every councillor who gets elected wants to get elected again. They seek to achieve that by promising, and even occasionally delivering, nice things.

Then they can stand up at the next election and say “look at all the nice stuff I got you.” Unfortunately, that is the sort of thinking that has got us into this mess.

I am not promising nice things. I know that it is not councillors “being nice” that delivers them.

It is your money that delivers for them and I don’t want to see any more of your money being wasted.

I want to see tighter controls on the budget so that Highland Council can get back to its proper job of properly funding the basics.

If elected I promise to vote against all and any spending that will result in an increase in Council Tax or increased borrowing.

Bill Fernie, Independent

I will bring to bear my experience of 14 years previously on the council the issues affecting Caithness.

I have not ceased to work on issues in my roles with Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT), Laurandy Day Centre, HomeStart Caithness and will continue to help maintain the important work they do.

The Early Years for children and family support are of the utmost importance and I will push for further improvements.

On health generally the job is never done and I will push the council’s partner NHS Highland to put its money where its mouth is and get on with the proposed Hubs and other improvements.

Bill Fernie

We must tackle the scourge of drugs and commit ourselves to drive down suicides.

The decommissioning of Dounreay moving to the end state means nothing is as important as creating jobs and fitting our young people for the future.

More investment is required and working with partners such as the NDA, HIE and Scottish Government.

School budgets have been seriously reduced in recent years and I will push to have this reversed at the earliest opportunity.

We all know the roads are in a terrible state and despite recent announcements of more spending it is nowhere near enough.

I will try to get more value for money as a priority.

Lobbying is important for councils on issues and the extra payment due to the pandemic of £20 a week soon to cease is devastating for families. I will lobby for its retention.

Daniel Ross, Scottish Conservative and Unionist

I want to be your strong voice because I have grown tired of this council and its same old attitude, which has only neglected Caithness. I grew up in Wick and still live here, I’ve seen the same neglect over the years you have.

The appalling state of our roads is a daily reminder of how Caithness has been forgotten.

Wick and East Caithness by-election candidate Daniel Ross

Inverness doesn’t have many more roads than us but get a much, much larger budget. For every pound spent per mile of road in Inverness, Caithness gets just 76p.

If we don’t finally stand up and say enough is enough, when will we? The same old ways don’t work and have only failed us.

The “Independents”, SNP, Lib Dems and Labour have all run this council in various guises over the last decade, just what have we had for that?

I decided to stand as a Scottish Conservative because they’ve not just criticised from the sidelines, they’ve actually come up with real alternatives.

This year, they produced a fully costed 15 page alternative budget which included an extra £26m on the roads this year. Unfortunately this stale, tired council voted it down.

Even with extra money, the Inverness-centric council won’t give us our fair share. They call it ‘Local Government’, but Inverness is anything but local.

Caithness decisions should be made in Caithness, I want to see the Highland Council as we know it broken up and a return to more what we had with the Caithness County Council.

Jill Tilt, Scottish Liberal Democrats

I believe people are looking for a no-nonsense councillor who is willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done.

With my army family background, that’s what I am offering to the residents of Wick and East Caithness.

If elected, I will be accessible, I will be transparent and I will do my very best to achieve positive outcomes for our area.

Over the past four years we have had a strong local advocate in departing councillor Nicola Sinclair, and I would like to build upon her good work.

Wick and East Caithness by-election candidate Jill Tilt

As a Watten resident of almost 15 years, I understand the challenges facing the far north.

Whether it be our roads and signage, healthcare provision, transport links or council services, we all know that there is much room for improvement.

I will work cross-party with my fellow Caithness councillors to influence change – whether to achieve more efficient road repairs, better bus services, or strengthened mental health support. I will advocate for a strong and well-funded Caithness Area Committee to ensure our voices are heard.

Over the past 18 months, what I have admired more than anything is how people in our area have pulled together to look after Caithness and take care of one another.

But we’ve all seen how difficult it can be to bring about change. It takes hard work, perseverance, and a dedicated community.

If elected, I will continue to work in that spirit – with cooperation and determination – to advocate for everyone in Wick and East Caithness.