Former Fishing Skipper to run in by-election as independent

Dennis Slater – former Fishing Skipper to run as an Independent candidate

THE HOPEMAN COMMUNITY association chairman Dennis Slater has confirmed he will contest the Heldon & Laich by-election to be held in October.

Mr Slater, who has been described as a “tireless ambassador” for people of all ages in his local communities and throughout Moray, has announced he will stand – and is making it clear that while standing as an independent he will not be swayed by any group or party politics.

As Chair of Hopeman Community Association Dennis has presided over one of the most successful community groups in Moray, helping to guide local people in the creation of several initiatives for the benefit of every corner of the community.

He enjoyed a successful career as a Fishing Skipper and was a fierce campaigner on behalf of all fishermen as the industry came under increasing threat from government legislation, including playing a leading role in a famous mass protest at Lossiemouth Harbour in 1992 against restrictions on the time boats could spend at sea.

More recently he voiced concerns over the Harbour Board decision in Lossiemouth to close off a road through the harbour that had enjoyed a free right of passage for many years.

Announcing his decision to stand for the seat vacated by Eric McGillivray, Mr Slater said: “I had to think long and hard on if I wished to put myself through this at a time when a pair of slippers and comfy chair might look a great deal more attractive than the Moray Council chamber.

“I had massive respect for the work put in by the three independent ward councillors in Heldon and Laich – and in particular by Eric McGillivray, whom I’ve worked closely with for several years.

“It is the support I’ve received from local people who have encouraged me to stand that more or less made this decision for me.

“Moray needs strong truly independent voices in the Council – people who will stand up for the local communities who put them there and not be dictated to by party or group policies.”

Mr Slater said that nobody should assume that he would automatically become a member of the Independent-led administration, saying: “I firmly believe that people in this ward know me well enough to believe that I will not be swayed by any group policies that I firmly believe are neither supported by the people of Heldon and Laich nor would be to their benefit.

“I have no illusions – winning this seat will be no easy task, but I am prepared to put my trust in the independently-minded people of this ward in the hope that they will put their trust in me.”

So far two candidates have declared their intention to contest the by-election with Moray Greens convener James MacKessack-Leitch confirming on Monday that he was in the running.