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Fresh faces elected to serve in north, west and central Sutherland ward

By Niall Harkiss

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Election Count May 2022..Ward 1 .Michael BAIRD Scottish Liberal Democrats, Marianne HUTCHISON Scottish National Party (SNP) and Hugh MORRISON Independent...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Election Count May 2022..Ward 1 .Michael BAIRD Scottish Liberal Democrats, Marianne HUTCHISON Scottish National Party (SNP) and Hugh MORRISON Independent...Picture: Callum Mackay..

Residents in the north, west and central Sutherland ward cast their votes last Thursday to elect two new councillors for the ward.

Bonar Bridge native Michael Baird of the Scottish Liberal Democrats was elected for a first term with 773 first preference votes and takes up the seat vacated by long serving fellow LibDem Linda Munro.

Mr Baird said: "I would like to thank all those constituents who voted for me in the Highland Council elections last Thursday.

"I look forward to representing the wishes of our constituents on local issues such as the state of our roads and the speeding of motorists on the North Coast 500, as well as improvements in health matters, with the opening up of Migdale Hospital to it's full capacity.

"I also look forward to the return to the full mobile banking service to pre Covid levels of two days per week in Bonar Bridge and Lairg instead of once a fortnight, and to see the operation of rural fuel subsidies both on heating oil and fuel at the pumps."

The highest number of first preference votes was received by Marianne Hutchison for the Scottish National Party, with 968, filling the gap left by the departing Kirsteen Currie.

Ms Hutchison said: "Thank you to everyone in north, west and central Sutherland who has trusted me with their vote. Congratulations to every councillor elected to serve the Highlands. It is a real honour.

"My campaign trail wound its way all around beautiful Ward 1. It was great to spend time with people in each community and gather knowledge of what is important to them.

"Now, I have the opportunity to represent these communities, research issues and work towards improvement in provision. I will listen and be available to all so that, together, we can prioritise and move forward.

"For Sutherland communities to thrive and reach their potential, our young people must have agency and options, not least the option to stay here in high quality training, employment and affordable housing. I will support sustainable development to improve employment, further education and training in Sutherland.

"I will use all resources available to me and work with agencies, parliamentarians and Highland Council colleagues to respond effectively to people’s needs. Working closely with community councils and other local organisations will strengthen the case for improved connectivity of all types, from road maintenance to broadband and mobile phone service.

"My first few days as a Highland councillor have been busy, exciting and inspiring. I’m ready to work hard do my very best for everyone in north, west and central Sutherland."

Independent candidate Hugh Morrison was returned to the local authority for a third term, receiving 477 first preference votes.

He said: "Thank you to all that voted me in for a third term. The make up in our ward remains the same as the last two terms and I would like to thank the outgoing councillors especially Linda Munro who has done a power of work in her period as a councillor in our ward.

"Looking forward, we will have the same issues as before to contend with, lack of affordable housing, care & learning, tourism, fuel and food poverty and our battles with Inverness to get our fair share of what's going, so plenty of work ahead.

"But it’s not all doom and gloom as there are lots of good things happening in the ward as well at the moment."

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