Shetland Islands

Key Statistics

Municipalities: 1 (Unitary)
Largest Settlement: Lerwick
Municipal Councillors: 25

Municipality Description

The most far-flung part of Scotland (no, Rockall doesn’t count), there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to pull Shetland into a wider region. Before the 1973 Act, the islands were typically known as “Zetland”, and had a range of small District Councils plus a single Burgh at Lerwick. Since then, they’ve been a Unitary Authority, a status this project proposes they keep.

Given the nature of island communities, there’s an argument for potentially restoring some form of District Councils underneath the umbrella of a Shetland Region. However, over 80% of the population live on the Mainland (referring to the largest island, not to the Scottish mainland), meaning the populations of other island Districts would be very small.

I’d be inclined to suggest that the answer here wouldn’t be in statutory Districts. Instead, it would be in some form of decentralisation plan produced by Shetland Islands Council itself that devolves power to areas in a more flexible manner.

Scotland’s islands like to vote for Independent councillors, and Shetland is no different. That translates poorly to a purely list-based system (see Orkney’s page for further on that) but we are where we are. One quirk of this is that I created a hypothetical local party based on candidates known to be affiliated with the “Wir Shetland” group. Although it now seems to be defunct, it proposed further autonomy for Shetland, and seemed a good way to illustrate a particular possible strand of Shetland politics that might be represented if the system pushed towards the formation of parties.