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Gray fox

With all the attention being paid to handsome pay-offs for councillors who stand down before the 2007 local government elections, one winner will surely be Charlie Gray, wily education convener of North Lanarkshire Council.

Gray is a man for whom "veteran" could have been coined - he will retire next year, one year short of 50 years as a councillor. Yet he still has a trick or two up his sleeve, as he revealed to his audience at the recent North Lanarkshire conference on raising achievement.

"We are big on consultation in North Lanarkshire," Gray said. "Our consultative group of parents meets a week after the education committee does and, if anyone criticises anything at the next council meeting, I can say, 'well, the parents want it', and I get away with it."

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