Council pays tribute at final meeting

Aberdeenshire, election v.1

By Morag Kuc
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 4:40 pm
Councillors held their last meeting at Woodhill House before the election.
Councillors held their last meeting at Woodhill House before the election.

Aberdeenshire councillors were forced to hold their final meeting together virtually this week due to “defunct” IT equipment leaving members unable to deliver heartfelt goodbyes in person.

The last full council meeting of the current term was held on Thursday, April 28 but an IT glitch meant members couldn’t meet up at Woodhill House as originally planned.

Marking the end of the council term outgoing Provost councillor Bill Howatson said: “It has been a great honour and privilege for me to serve Aberdeenshire over the past 23 years having served ten of these years as Provost.

“Some of us have taken the decision not to stand for election again and that’s myself included. I’d like to send very best wishes and thanks for your dedication and commitment to serving our communities across Aberdeenshire.”

He added: “The role of a councillor requires a great personal commitment and this last council term has seen challenges to overcome like never before with a global pandemic and hugely destructive storms.

“Local civic leadership has never been more important and I’m proud to have played our part in supporting our communities through such a challenging period.

“Whatever side of the political spectrum we come from we are all here with a shared purpose and that is to serve Aberdeenshire.

“Much of our business has been delivered with consensus and where there has been difference we have conducted business professionally and with a great respect for each other’s views.”

He thanked outgoing council leader councillor Andy Kille, existing group leaders and all councillors for their efforts to ensure that the region “continues to flourish and prosper”.

He also extended his thanks to Aberdeenshire Council’s chief executive Jim Savege and officers for their work to deliver “vital and much valued local services”.

Tributes were paid to those not standing again, to past serving councillors who left during the term and “greatly missed colleague” Fergus Hood who sadly passed away last March.

Councillor Kille spoke at the meeting to give his last statement as leader of Aberdeenshire Council.

He thanked Provost Howatson for keeping councillors “in check” at full council, ensuring meetings were kept “orderly and efficient” and for being able to “lighten the mood” with his dry wit, adding that he had been a “fabulous ambassador for this council”.

Councillor Kille said that it had been a “huge personal honour” to be the council leader and said while the decision to stand down was very difficult to make he did so with a “lump in my throat and a tear in my eye”.

Meanwhile councillor Peter Argyle also paid tribute to late councillor Hood and said: “He’s not forgotten and never will be, he was a lovely man.”

At the meeting councillors discussed the local authority’s ongoing plans to move to hybrid meetings that would allow some members to return to the council chambers.

They were told the council’s current audio equipment is now “defunct” and “unfixable” however money is available in the Capital Plan to upgrade the chamber equipment.

Councillors agreed to go ahead with the upgrade plan and the director of business services will now write up a report with detailed costs for the works.

The report is expected to go before the next meeting of the business services committee for consideration.