Fraserburgh councillor takes the helm at Aberdeenshire Council
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The Conservative councillor Andy Kille has officially been appointed the new leader of Aberdeenshire Council.
A councillor for the Fraserburgh ward, he was elected the leader of the Conservative group on Aberdeenshire Council in June, a move which resulted in his predecessor Jim Gifford resigning from the Tories and standing as an aligned independent instead.
Mr Gifford officially resigned as council leader yesterday, after a tenure as leader for “six and a half of the past eight and a half years.”
In normal circumstances a vote would have been held at a full meeting of council, but Mr Gifford resigned his position prior to the meeting of full council today in order for the transition to take place.
Paying tribute to Mr Gifford, Mr Killie said: “Councillor Gifford has been a member of this chamber for many years and has twice been leader of this council, as well as holding many other senior councillor roles.
“He has worked tremendously hard in all of his roles and this council, and the wider community, owe him a debt of gratitude.
“This has been a managed and smooth change over several months, with the baton passing seamlessly, and I would also like to thank Councillor Gifford for his part in that – along with others who also provided valuable assistance."
He continued: “Today I have democratically become the leader of the council.
“These democratic processes are the bedrock of our society and their outcomes need to be respected and supported.
“In any democracy, participation is the key, and my intention is to ensure that elected members play their full part.
“The chief executive at our full council meeting on September 24 this year told us that we are no longer technically in the response phase of the pandemic, but in the recovery phase.
“Since then, particularly recently, the numbers have sadly been going the wrong way.
“These peaks and troughs may well continue but the council cannot stay in emergency governance powers indefinitely.
“It has been eight months so far, and the consolidated business committee for example has not been needed, the recovery reference group has not needed to be as agile as we feared.
“So I shall be looking to bring a paper to full council soon, rescinding elements of the paper of March of this year – in which we granted extra delegations to officers – although the peaks and troughs may continue for some time to come, it is time that we resumed our full democratic role on behalf of our communities.
“Our tremendously hard-working officers and front line staff deserve this leadership and support and, yes, scrutiny from their elected members.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those staff for all that they do.”
Mr Gifford said: “I am leaving the council today having served in the role of council leader for almost six and a half of the last eight and a half years.
“While leaving is not my choosing, I step down in the way I have performed all of my duties all of those years, with the very best interests of Aberdeenshire Council at heart.
“It has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to have been council leader and to represent the council and Aberdeenshire not only here in the north-east, but with all spheres of government in the UK.
He added: “This is a fantastic council, and it has been an honour to work with so many terrific people over so many years.
“When it comes to our staff, we have incredible officers the length and breadth of our full area working tirelessly for the people of Aberdeenshire that we are all here to represent.
“We have an enviable reputation for cross-party working, and demonstrating the very best of collaborative working on many, many occasions.
“There is much more that we agree on than we don’t, and our reputation for putting politics on the back burner and doing what is right for the people who elected us is one that we should defend with a passion.”
Councillor Gwyneth Petrie, leader of the SNP Group on Aberdeenshire Council, said: “We as a partnership would like to put our thanks to councillor Gifford on record, in particular my thanks for the way we have worked cohesively for the past months since I came in as opposition leader.
“We stand ready as an opposition, and are open to working with the new council leadership as we navigate further difficult months ahead for the good of those we represent.”