Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil leader stands down

Argyllshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil was set to choose a new leader at its full Skype meet­ing yes­ter­day (Thurs­day, Septem­ber 24) af­ter Coun­cil­lor Aileen Mor­ton stepped down from the role.

Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton, of the He­lens­burgh Cen­tral ward, was leader of the author­ity since May 2017, hav­ing been elected five years ear­lier.

An­nounc­ing her de­ci­sion, which she said was taken ‘af­ter much thought’, Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton de­scribed Ar­gyll and Bute as ‘a fan­tas­tic area’ and added that it ‘de­serves a suc­cess­ful fu­ture’.

Ef­fec­tive

She said: ‘I took on the role of leader to put in place op­por­tu­ni­ties for suc­cess to hap­pen. With mil­lions of pounds of na­tional in­vest­ment se­cured, stronger re­la­tion­ships de­vel­oped with key de­ci­sion-mak­ers, and the coun­cil’s progress as an ef­fec­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion recog­nised, it’s the ideal time now for some­one else to take the coun­cil for­ward.

‘Like all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, we face sub­stan­tial chal­lenges due to re­duced fund­ing but over­all Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil is in a re­ally good place. In the past three and a half years we’ve made very con­sid­er­able progress.

‘We’ve seen the coun­cil through a pos­i­tive Best Value au­dit which high­lighted sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved, con­struc­tive re­la­tion­ships across the cham­ber and with our of­fi­cers, and also recog­nised the coun­cil’s sound ap­proach to fi­nan­cial plan­ning and bud­get­ing.

‘We have strength­ened re­la­tion­ships with both the Scot­tish and UK gov­ern­ments through proac­tive and pos­i­tive en­gage­ment from the start of my term as leader, with our cross-party Ar­gyll and Bute Par­lia­men­tary Fo­rum bring­ing to­gether all the re­gion’s elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

‘We have de­vel­oped and agreed pri­or­i­ties which have our com­mu­ni­ties at their heart and which are de­signed to help Ar­gyll and Bute thrive.

‘Our drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion to se­cure eco­nomic suc­cess for Ar­gyll and Bute through grow­ing the pop­u­la­tion has been re­lent­less. We’ve taken this is­sue to na­tional gov­ern­ment – iden­ti­fy­ing trends and lead­ing on work re­lat­ing to west coast and ru­ral de­pop­u­la­tion while con­tin­u­ing to press Ar­gyll and Bute’s case with min­is­ters.

Ma­jor steps

‘Hav­ing al­ready seen fund­ing of at least £50 mil­lion se­cured through our Ru­ral Growth Deal I ex­pect to see this take ma­jor steps for­ward later this year fol­low­ing con­tin­ued en­gage­ment with min­is­ters in both gov­ern­ments.

‘As we de­vel­oped our Growth Deal we asked our com­mu­ni­ties what could make the big­gest trans­for­ma­tional change to the area and their top pri­or­ity was dig­i­tal and trans­port con­nec­tiv­ity. While there are still chal­lenges to be ad­dressed our broad­band and mo­bile pro­vi­sion is now much im­proved and fol­low­ing sus­tained lob­by­ing last month saw ac­cep­tance by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment that a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion for the A83 Rest and Be Thank­ful needs to be de­liv­ered.

‘We have achieved much over the past few years and there is so much po­ten­tial for fur­ther suc­cess. The next leader of this coun­cil can build on that and will be start­ing from a very strong po­si­tion, sup­ported by a fan­tas­tic work­force who know, as I do, that Ar­gyll and Bute is a great place to live and work.

‘It’s been my priv­i­lege to lead this coun­cil for the past few years and to serve the peo­ple of Ar­gyll and Bute. I will con­tinue to do so, work­ing with my suc­ces­sor. My sin­cere thanks go to all who have sup­ported me over the years.’

The coun­cil’s de­pute provost, Coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish, paid trib­ute to Coun­cil­lor Mor­ton’s achieve­ments as leader.

He said: ‘Aileen took on the role of leader to get a job done for Ar­gyll and Bute, and she’s done that.

‘In brief, she’s taken Ar­gyll and Bute’s cause to key de­ci­sion-mak­ers to se­cure trans­for­ma­tional in­vest­ment for the area; and she’s pro­gressed col­lab­o­ra­tion within the coun­cil to use shared pri­or­i­ties to de­liver suc­cess. On be­half of ev­ery­one who will ben­e­fit from the progress made, I would like to thank Aileen for her drive, fo­cus and ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship of Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil.’

Coun­cil­lor Aileen Mor­ton has stepped own as Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s leader.

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