Inverness Central SNP councillor to resign due to health issues
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One of the most forthright and persuasive voices on Highland Council has announced that he is to resign his seat early next month.
Councillor Richard Laird, SNP member for Inverness Central, will step down permanently after the full council meeting on September 5.
It brings his time on the local authority to an end after seven years and comes 12 months on from poor health causing him to give up senior positions on the council and within his party.
He had previously been chairman of the council's audit and scrutiny committee and was depute leader of the SNP group last year but relinquished those positions in the hope that the decreased workload would allow his physical and mental health to improve.
During his time on the council he earned a reputation for for hard work and intelligence, as well as having the courage of his convictions.
On leaving the council, Cllr Laird said: “Folk will know that my health hasn't been great these last two years.
"My long-standing, but previously manageable, medical conditions have become a real problem for me during that time and my doctor has now told me that they are unlikely to improve while I remain a councillor.
“It isn't easy to be told that, but I have to take that advice on board, hence this decision. The people of Inverness Central deserve a councillor who can fulfil the role properly and I am, unfortunately, no longer that."
Leaving the council means a change of direction with Cllr Laird set to return to university to study law.
"I have been active in politics continuously since I was 18,” he said.
“After 15 years of doing what I am passionate about and what I have loved, it is time now to try something new. I am going to go back to university to have a crack at studying law."
Inverness, Nairn, Strathspey and Badenoch MP Drew Hendry, who is a former leader of the council, praised Cllr Laird’s abilities.
“Richard has always been a very hard worker with a sharp mind and attention to details – attributes that have served his constituents well. As council leader it was a pleasure to work with him as my deputy.”
SNP group co-leader Councillor Maxine Smith said: “Richard has been a massive asset to the SNP council group over the past seven-and-a-half years and indeed as its depute leader for four years.
“I was disappointed when he had to step down as my depute due to health issues last year and he will be missed greatly when he moves onto pastures new in a couple of weeks."
Fellow co-leader Councillor Ian Cockburn said: “While I am sorry to see him leave the council, I am delighted that Richard has decided to go back to university to study for his second degree. I am sure he will excel at it."