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Bill Fernie - Independent - Wick & East Caithness

14th April 2017

Photograph of Bill Fernie - Independent - Wick & East Caithness

How often do we hear candidates in elections saying they will make things better if they get elected? Often they paint a pessimistic picture that they will improve if they get elected. It is easy to make statements to that effect but much more difficult to bring about successful conclusions with so many competing requirements. I am a realist but much more optimistic that things can be improved and I do not make wild promises. I take action and get working to bring about change that can take years to show up.

It takes time to build alliances amongst what will be 76 councillors (80 until 4th May) and to achieve agreements on the way forward let alone final budget spending each year. I believe I have been successful in moving forward not just for one ward but Caithness and Highland. Making unproved statements about all spending going to Inverness is just not true and it can be seen in the biggest spending in the past 50 years that has been happening in Wick - Wick campus - High School, Newton Park Primary, Swimming Pool, Library and the new Noss Primary, Nucleus Archive centre and new council offices. Wick and Caithness is in transition so we should all be optimistic that there are ways to make it better.

I take action to make sure that optimistic predictions can be made to come true rather than backward looking at all the problems in the past. There will always be thing needing done and councils try to deal with many of them within their limits but not every problem can be solved by distant councils or government. That is why independent councillors and most party councillors have supported the creation of area committees such as the Caithness Committee. Much more than that is needed and the Independent Administration have been at the forefront of setting up the Commission On Highland Democracy and heavily pushed forward the Redesign Board looking at 120 detailed reviews of how services are delivered in Highland. Change is required and Independent councillors including myself look forward to many other ways to make the council more efficient. We are doing things now not just promising something vaguely in the future.

To get more new things moved onward we would like more independent councillors elected who have not got to heed political masters or policies. Independent councillors have plenty of talent and want to get things done and represent their area well even if we have been in the minority. Even in the minority position I think we have proved we can run the Highland council well and I have delivered balance budgets in the last two years with the help of a budget team I put together from independent councillors - Myself Bill Fernie chairman, Resources committee (Wick), Alister McKinnon , vice-chair Resources committee (Dingwall & Seaforth), Matthew Reiss (Landward Caithess), , Ben Thompson (Caol & Mallaig), Jaci Douglas (Badenoch & Strathspey) - a team with considerable financial, managerial and experience at senior levels in business, government, police and much more.

Running the council is about team-work and co-operation and I acknowledge the input that other parties have given especially over budget issues - we may disagree on some things but in the end we have reached agreements with some more than others and that is what happens in political councils. Every group has its ideas and as independents we recognise that no one has all the answers in the complex issues involved in running a big organisation with hundreds of services and over 2000 buildings and over 10,000 staff.

If voters put back a high number of independent councillors we can have a very good team of people with experience to make the changes we have been asked to do. Who do we look to? Well our local people, community councils and also we have a citizens panel set up by the council with over 2000 people being asked questions from time to time and we do listen to the answers to make changes.

Independent councillors can be found on many groups and associations across Highland and I am involved with several groups outside the council and it is worthwhile be involved.

Currently I am chairman of Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT) and with its founder Nicola Sinclair who is Secretary and a group of very dedicated volunteers - we are campaigning on health issues - maternity and more across Caithness. Nicola Sinclair is also standing as an Independent to represent the new ward of Wick & East Caithness.

For the past 20 years I have been active on many fronts to push Wick and Caithness forward and to improve our communities. Outside of the council I am also chairman of Laurandy Day Care Centre in Wick, a director on HomeStart Caithness and a director of the Hi-Scot Credit union. These are all areas I am interested in from care of our elderly people, young families and promoting new and better ways to save and borrow without huge interest charges.

I want to do more than just stand for the council I want to make life better for everyone in our county.

I want to make sure that the council does what it can in partnership and the new Caithness Community Partnership with HIE, Police, Fire and NHS Highland. Beyond that there are other partnerships such as the Caithness and North Highland Partnership, the whole voluntary sector and others. The council is one player in the whole and can supply leadership in many areas and I will support every means to make our county better.

My experience now covers very wide range of council work and other activities. For those that do not know me here are the main ones are -

As a Councillor,

I am on the following Committees:

Resources

(Chairman & Budget Leader)

Caithness Community Partnership

Appeals

Central Safety

Employment Release

IT Working Group

Non Domestic Rates Appeals

Welfare Reform Group

Audit & Scrutiny

Redesign Board

Caithness Area

North Planning

And others but it gets too long and you get the idea - I am very active.

I attend:

Wick Community Council

Wick High School Parent Council

As a member of the community I volunteer as :

Chairman of CHAT Caithness Health Action Team

Director & previous Chairman of HomeStart Caithness

Chairman of Laurandy Day Care Centre

Director of Hi-Scot Credit Union

Your Priorities Are My Priorities

Unlike the members of the big political parties, I have been listening to the things that concern the people in our community for the last 14 years. We all want to see improvements for our Children and Young People, Care of our elderly and our Roads. In my role as Budget Leader I have done all I that can to protect the budgets for these important areas of our lives and encouraged the increase in spending on our roads over the next few years. As part of the Council's Redesign group, I helped to look for more efficient practices in the way the Council works.

Fighting for More Caithness Decisions to be Taken in Caithness

I support bringing decision making back to Caithness and I'm pushing for the recently formed Caithness Area Committee to be granted more decision making power. We recently allocated some much needed additional funding to repairing on our roads. Sitting on the Local Planning Committee I try to help push those endeavours that will bring investment and greater employment to our area. Previously I was chair of the Education Committee and helped bring the new Schools to Wick.

Campaigning for Caithness

I am always pushing to get Caithness a fair share of resources from the council but also try to get other government bodies to offer the best services. That is why I am now Chairman of CHAT (Caithness Health Action Team) highlighting problems caused by cuts being made by NHS Highland at Caithness General Hospital and the lack of sufficient ambulance cover. Many people will also remember the NAG campaign around 12 years ago where I helped fight against almost identical cuts to our fantastic local hospital. CHAT is a great team of people who are working very hard to make sure NHS Highland don't get their wish this time either. We recently went to Edinburgh with some of the team to take our demands for fair treatment to the Scottish Parliament.

Other Activities To Help People in Caithness

I am active in the community working as an unpaid director of Homestart Caithness helping families with young children. I am Chairman of the Laurandy Day Care Centre in Wick helping elderly people get wide a range of essential services. Laurandy are taking over the work of Alzheimers Scotland in Wick when they pull out their services in Caithness. I am also a director of the Hi-Scot Credit Union helping people to save and get access to low-cost loans, trying to combat pay-day-lenders charging huge amounts of interest.

Vision For The Next Few Years

I want to see increased employment by using council resources to the best advantage for our area. Wick has a lot going for it and new schools, modern council offices, Nucleus Archive Centre and the harbour developments will improve job prospects and put much needed money into our area. However, the east coast needs more development and I will push for this in the new council. Young People are our future and the new schools are a great start. We must build on that to actively support ways that make sure they can stay in our great county. We can do this with more partnership working especially in further education.

Pushing Caithness Online - Caithness.org

In my spare time I run award winning Caithness.Org giving Charities, Groups, Clubs and Businesses free online promotion. You'll often see me out and about at events or just walking around with my Camera, snapping away, to show the world how much our beautiful County has to offer. I have attended almost every Caithness Gala, Agricultural Shows and Highland Games in the last 15 years and many many more events.

Earlier Career

Bill worked for many years in Wick Tax Office and previously in Edinburgh and Glasgow tax offices. He has also worked For Scottish Widows Life Assurance, The Post Office and even earlier as a labourer while at college.

To see what the Independent Administration has done in the two years we had control over the administration even in a minority position see -

www.highland-independent-councillors.org/achieevments-and-aims/

I ask for your vote as an Independent candidate.

Contact Bill Fernie

Email bill@caithness.org

Tel 01955 604648

Promoted by Bill Fernie, 19 March Road, Wick, Caithness, KW15TY

Agent Alison Begg, 12 Tower Square, Ackergill, Caithness

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