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Watson's farewell

It was good to see that long-serving servant of local government, Sandy Watson, at the annual bash of the Association of Scottish Colleges recently. Watson is about to put away his systems planning and step down as chief executive of Angus Council, having previously served as director of education in Tayside.

But chief executives don't always fade away; some become chairs of FE college boards, as indeed he is - at Angus College. In fact, Watson is only allowed to call himself an "interim" chair because (and don't even ask why) local authority people are not allowed to sit in such chairs until they retire. After that, he can do whatever he likes, even discard his "interim".

Watson was not going to pass up the chance of bearding Jim Wallace, the Lifelong Learning Minister, on an occasion which was a departure for both.

What, the council chief executive enquired, was the Scottish Executive going to do about the "institutional mess" of having 32 education authorities, 23 local enterprise companies, 15 health boards, six police and fire boards and six sheriffdoms?

This was known as "institutional porridge" in the Highlands, Watson said, "institutional muesli" in Edinburgh and "institutional mince" in Glasgow.

Although departing ministerial life and therefore, as he put, being tempted to "set all sorts of hares running", Wallace replied: "I hear what you say."

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