Tributes paid to retiring community councillors

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The present Arran Community Council met for the final time last week. They have been in post for five years, one year longer than normal after the elections were cancelled last year, due to the pandemic.

At the meeting chairman Bill Calderwood gave his end of term report in which he paid tribute to the members who have announced they are retiring after many years of service. Here is a summary of his report.

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The current membership has been in place for five years with some serving longer sentences. Our website has been a good contact point and shows more than 35,500 hits.

The records show engagement with a wide range of island groups including: the ferry committee, elderly forum, Arran Community and Voluntary Services, AEG, forestry, Arran Development Trust, Arran youth groups, COAST, Scottish Islands Federation, MSPs, MP and other representatives including the Boundaries Commission, health boards, Royal Mail and many more local and national committees. I’m sure it will be acknowledge that we are not a one-trick pony.

Over the term some members have moved on to other activities: Marilyn Woods, Chris Attkins, Peter Randell, Francis Wheeler, who all added their own unique experience and styles to support our activities.

We have been fortunate to also welcome new members to replace these individuals to continue the work of the CC.

Our meetings have also been complemented by the support of Councillor Timothy Billings who has attended when possible and provided reports on a regular basis. Pity we could not have received the same level of support for our other elected members.

Whilst the CC is not a politically aligned body we have to recognise the support received over the term from our MP and MSP.

NAC local officer support has seen changes over our term with Gus Macleod retiring and Rosslyn Mills inserting appositive and enthusiastic contribution to our meetings and to the various concerns such as roads, hedges, general council services and general duties. Rosslyn is a positive addition to NAC’s presence on Arran.

The last 18 months have been difficult for everyone but we have continued to perform the role as described in our terms of reference.

Over the period I wish to specifically recognise a couple of our members who have indicated they will not be returning in October.

Jim Henderson has served for 11-plus years and filled several roles including treasurer, secretary, marine coordination and generally supporting me as chair in a responsible and conscientious manner. Thanks Jim.

Peter McMullen is another big hole to fill. Peter has developed the role of planning to a level which is respected and admired across NAC and planning management.

Peter has carried out the duties in a professional and informed manner all to the benefit of ACC.

Whilst some get the publicity, Peter has analysed many planning applications and advised the council in much detail. I pass my personal appreciation to him for his contribution and support.

Liz Evans carries out the duties in a quiet and efficient manner and has represented her community in a positive manner for more than 11 years.

I know her contribution is recognised by both the village residents and also a wider group with her other work caring for those in need. She has my sincere appreciation and I wish her and Ray well for the future.

Colin Mackenzie has been my partner for the last six years representing Brodick and also brought experience and knowledge of education and other island aspects to the discussion and has had to cope with house moves, IT system changes etc as well as the pandemic. All the best to you and the family.

The final long-term member to pick up is retiring Whiting Bay representative John Lamont, who leaves after 11 years. He has vast commercial experience, which he applies to key matters, and his contacts are extensive.

Another resource who complements the other members to ensure we represent our residents’ views in the strongest way possible.

I hope this acknowledges the range of topics and how we have as a committee worked together to represent our communities for the benefit of the wider island.

We all have decisions to make for the future and these should be personal decisions based on what each member feels they can contribute to the future activities of what is a nationally-prescribed body.

It is not for one individual or group to dictate or attempt to influence the future membership based on personal views or support to individual topics such as ferries.

Any engagement should be done with respect to other members and all candidates will require to have their village’s support.

I thank everyone for their support over the years and wish everyone well for the future whatever they may decide that will be.