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Former Inverness councillor says local authority system needs an overhaul

By Gregor White

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Richard Laird.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Richard Laird.

Speaking before resigning Inverness councillor Richard Laird warned local authorities risk being left with only “the mad, the bad, and the sad”

After announcing his resignation for health reasons his parting shot came during a full council meeting.

He told councillors: “It is coming very close to the time where we as communities, we as Highland body politic and we as a country need to think seriously about what we want from councils and councillors.

“If we want councils to simply be agencies responsible for the delivery of public services within the terms of a nationally- set budget then they would be as well doing away with the lot of us and putting in directors appointed by ministers.

“But if we as local government and we as councillors are meant to be beyond that, are meant to be community leaders, then we need to look at the status quo and acknowledge that in my opinion it is not working.

“At the moment we have a halfway house, we have a system from the ‘70s which has not been updated for today and we have a situation now where we have a diminishing budget or at best a standstill budget but ever-increasing demands on our services.

“We have never faced challenges as councillors in delivering services like this before and if we don’t begin to address that – what councils do and what councillors do – then what is going to happen is that as members from this chamber retire they will be replaced from the mad, the bad, and the sad because nobody else would be willing to do it.”

Mr Laird was an SNP councillor for the Inverness Central for seven years.

During this time he earned a reputation for hard work and intelligence, as well as having

the courage of his convictions.

He is set to return to university to study law.

A by-election to find his successor – which is estimated to cost between £20,000 and £30,000 – will be held on November 14.

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