The new faces of council control

4th June 1999 at 01:00
We line up up the new education conveners following the elections. Only 12 incumbents have survived, leaving a relatively inexperienced management team to face the unions in the current negotiations on pay and conditions

* Aberdeen (Labour)*

Jurgen Thomaneck (Lab), aged 58, steps up from vice-convener to take over from Jim Wyness. Educated at Kiel and Tubingen universities in Germany before moving to Aberdeen. A qualified teacher, he is professor in German at Aberdeen University and was elected to the former Grampian Region in 1983.

A sharp intellect and debating prowess, combined with local knowledge and involvement in education (his wife is a teacher), give him a formidable reputation. Languages will be a key interest.

* Aberdeenshire (Lib DemIndependent)*

Alan Findlay (Lib Dem), 59, is married to the leader of the council. An Orcadian, he worked there as a PE teacher before moving south into youth and community education in the Borders, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Stresses importance of regarding education as not just a schools service. "It's about lifelong learning," he says.

* Angus (SNP)

Brian Milne (SNP), 63, was a town and district councillor until 1996 when he became education convener of Angus where he doubles as depute provost. A secondary teacher for 34 years in technical subjects and, latterly, computing.

Not known for flamboyance, his main intention will be to continue with the policies as before, adapting national initiatives to ensure they suit Angus.

* Argyll and Bute (Ind)*

Campbell Cameron (SNP), 40, but still a long-serving member of former district council and Strathclyde Region. Runs a marketing business and has been a councillor since 1988 representing North Lorn on boundary with Highland.

Confesses to "mixed emotions" about the job, not least because his wife is a teacher. Mired in many local school closure battles, he plans to take stock of the building stock. One priority is to continue to battle for full recognition of the costs of providing a service given Argyll's innumerable islands, sparsity and peripherality.

* Clackmannan (SNP)*

Alison Lindsay (SNP), 53, has bagged education after only her first election which saw the SNP take control of the council from Labour. She is a qualified nurse and midwife but is currently lecturing in child care and education at Clackmannan College.

Another convener with a new title - chairing "learning and leisure committee".

* Dumfries and Galloway (IndLib DemSNPLab)*

Tommy Sloan (Lab), 49, has worked in the aircraft industry, bookmaking and docks. Has been a councillor since 1992 and is leader of the Labour group.

The main local issue, he says, will be clearing a pound;32 million backlog in school repairs and maintenance, which the council may fund through a public-private partnership.

* Dundee (minority Lab)*

George de Gernier (Lab), 52, takes over from the respected John Kemp. Has been convener of licensing committee and a councillor for seven years. A personnel officer to trade.

As a past member of the education committee, "I know the direction in which we have been moving, but I am feeling my way." Has landed the post not through choice but because structures were reviewed and the elections reduced the number of Labour councillors from 27 to 14.

* East Ayrshire (Lab)

Tommy Farrell (Lab), 59, has been education convener since council's inception in 1996, after four years chairing Strathclyde Region's education committee. A self-employed building contractor, he has been a councillor for 15 years.

As Labour chief whip, keeps a tight grip on the ruling group which was particularly effective during a gruelling but successful schools closure saga. Plans for education are "steady as she goes while always on the lookout for ways to improve the service".

* East Dunbartonshire (minority Lab)*

Una Walker (Lab), took early retirement after 20 years in teaching. Has a strong commitment to "a first-class education system to secure high standards and opportunities for all". Wants greater co-operation across services.

* East Lothian (Lab)*

John Ross, succeeds Willie Innes. Joined Lothian Regional Council in 1990, where he had a two-year spell as chair of water and drainage. In East Lothian he chaired the environment committee. Full-time official with Unison at Edinburgh City Council.

An effective backstage fixer, he is none the less a surprise appointment. More of a policy than a hands-on man, but keenly interested in partnerships with parents and has strongly supported local anti-bullying initiative.

* East Renfrewshire (LabLib Dem)

Jim Fletcher (Lab), 45, has been convener since reorganisation, having soldiered on as the sole Labour voice on the Tory-dominated Eastwood District Council since 1988. Has headed the Army Pensions Office in Glasgow for five years.

A solid presence, he will continue the council's firm embrace of the standards and targets agenda. Very conscious that state schools must continue to be attractive to East Renfrewshire's upwardly mobile electorate.

* Edinburgh (Lab)*

Paul Williamson, 32, has been heir apparent to Elizabeth Maginnis for some time. Impressive rise since becoming a Lothian Region councillor in 1994. Two years as finance vice-convener were followed by four years as education vice-convener from 1995.

As national policy officer with the Scottish Out of School Care Network, he is that rare creature - a male in the childcare world. He is on the Government's Scottish Childcare Board.

* Falkirk (Lab)

William Anderson, 56, has been a councillor for 21 years and Falkirk's education chairman for more than two years. Retired process operator with BP Chemicals. Committee renamed "community and citizen development", to reflect more community planning, involvement and development. Big local responsibility will be ensuring that five schools being built with private funds open on schedule in August 2000.

* Fife (Lab)

Helen Law, 47, continues in the education chair which she held briefly before the elections after three years as vice-chair. Formerly a civil servant in the Department of Social Security, she has only been a councillor for four years. Left school at 15 with no qualifications, and says she is a strong believer in the Government's priorities of social inclusion and opportunities for all.

* Glasgow (Lab)*

Bob Gray, 71, was senior education vice-convener to Malcolm Green whom he succeeds. A joiner to trade and councillor for 25 years, he is a former city treasurer and Lord Provost.

Steeped in Glasgow politics and a former lecturer in construction at Cardonald College, he is seen as a wily politician adept at pulling the right levers. Expected to accentuate the practical rather than the conceptual for which Dr Green was renowned.

* Highland (Ind)*

Andy Anderson (SNP), 51, was first elected in 1992 but has been groomed for the job. A former community education manager in Ross and Cromarty, he was the emphatic choice of 45 out of a possible 80 councillors. Wants a settled period and is adamant that there will be no school closures for three years - "whatever the Accounts Commission may say".

* Inverclyde (Lab)*

Allan Robertson (Lab), 45, succeeds namesake Yvonne who is now deputy group leader. A councillor for 19 years on former Inverclyde District, of which he was the last provost. Customer relations officer with Scottish Power. Looks forward to implementing national initiatives "which make these exciting times for education".

* Midlothian (Lab)

Peter Boyes (Lab), 53, continues in a post he has held from the beginning. Background is in mining and has been a councillor for 21 years, with a spell as education vice-chairman in Lothian Region. Describes himself as "a survivor rather than a veteran" and pledges to continue existing policies.

* Moray (IndLab)* Sandy Keith (Lab), 32, successfully fought first by-election in the new unitary councils. A careers adviser, he was made redundant in 1995 and describes himself as "house-husband with a four-year-old". Plans a more open authority "debating the issues on the floor which did not always happen in the past". Greater community involvement will be reflected in parent and pupil membership of education committee.

* North Ayrshire (Lab)*

Peter McNamara (Lab), 48, entered local government in 1988 and is a BT payphone engineer. Particular priority is to develop a youth strategy on which the council has been working for nine months. The aim is to give young people more direct access to decision-makers, creating "a youth-friendly council".

* North Lanarkshire (Lab)

Charles Gray (Lab), 70, continues in post he has held since reorganisation. His experience goes back to Lanark District Council in 1958. Was leader of Strathclyde from 1986-92 and, later, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Career spent in the railway industry.

A quixotic mix of bruiser and charmer, he has had a formidable reputation. Believes primary and secondary curricula need to be overhauled, particularly the 5-14 system which he says has not been as successful as is assumed.

* Orkney (Ind)*

Janice Annal (Ind), 53, has been a councillor for just over two years. Wife of a councillor and daughter-in-law of a former councillor, she is a trained nurse and worked as a health visitor. Now a volunteer adviser with the Orkney Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Has an interest in dyslexia and special needs. Main concerns will be the smooth running of education and the removal of barriers between departments. Also hopes for more flexibility in applying excellence fund money to local circumstances.

* Perth and Kinross (LabToryLib DemInd)*

Margo Lennie (Lab), 48, has been a councillor for 13 years. Takes over from Janet Law and the SNP of which she was a noted scourge during Tayside Region days. Her main interest has been community education.

* Renfrewshire (Lab)

Brian Oldrey (Lab), 58, was a former union official with Unison for 30 years and is now a full-time councillor. Has been education convener since Renfrewshire's inception and was on Strathclyde's education committee.

Outspoken and articulate, he does not suffer fools gladly. Believes addressing pay and status of teachers is a major national issue and, locally, hopes to extend delegation to schools by allowing more control over spending on repairs and maintenance.

* Scottish Borders (IndLib Dem)

David Suckling (Ind), 56, is former convener of Tweeddale District and education chairman in Borders since its inception in 1996. A retired agricultural researcher, he says particular attention will be paid to provision for all three-year-olds and "honing the whole pre-school initiative to make sure it works in a rural setting".

* Shetland (Ind)

Peter Malcolmson, 60, continues but in a dramatically restructured council where he chairs a "services committee" embracing education, community services, housing and social work. As Shetland's former director of social work, he also had contact with housing and became education vice-chairman five years ago. Virtually tailor-made for the job.

The big local issues will be combating the costs of remoteness and rebuilding the flagship Anderson High in Lerwick.

* South Ayrshire (Lab)

Sadie Bowie (Lab), 58, is a former English and learning support teacher who moved on to Craigie College in Ayr where she lectured in special needs. Became a councillor after retiring in 1995 and was immediately made vice-convener of education and then convener in January to succeed Elaine Murray, now an MSP.

Closely linked with the council's social inclusion policy, formulated before it became fashionable. Added responsibility for leisure and the arts, and keen to develop cultural links with schools.

* South Lanarkshire (Lab)

No decision but there will be a new education convener to succeed Alan Dick who becomes provost.

* Stirling (minority Lab)*

Ann Strang (Lab), 51, chairs the children's committee and is depute provost. Joined the former Stirling District in a 1993 by-election and was depute council leader in the previous administration. Qualified social worker but now a full-time councillor.

A strong believer in "the whole child" which her committee's title reflects and says the national drive for new community schools will extend the concept.

* West Dunbartonshire (Lab)

Danny McCafferty (Lab), 50, is a qualified nursery and primary teacher and currently heads Fasque Family Centre in Glasgow. First elected 1995 and immediately became education convener. A rising star in local government circles, he was chosen to head the "children's agenda" task force set up by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. His own council will be reviewing its committee structures and he is keen to break down "departmentalism".

* West Lothian (Lab)*

David McGrouther (Lab), 58, worked in the insurance industry for 16 years followed by five years with the Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Has a business studies degree from Napier University. Was education vice-convener in Lothian Region which he joined in 1986 and in West Lothian.

Regarded as steady and loyal, he places emphasis on expanding places for three-year-olds, putting nursery nurses into P1 and strengthening links between primaries and secondaries.

* Western Isles (Ind)*

Norman Macdonald (Ind), 53, is a qualified accountant who owns a local oil distribution company. Joined the council in 1994 and was chairman of the development committee.

Says he has "no preconceived ideas" and will start out by listening, visiting all his 47 schools. Cites lack of capital investment as the main problem facing the authority.

* denotes new convener

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