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by Tom Freeman
25 September 2015
COSLA chief to retire

COSLA chief to retire

The chief executive of Scotland’s council umbrella body COSLA is to step down, it has been announced.

In a meeting with leaders from local authorities this morning, Rory Mair announced he would retire from the organisation after 13 years at the helm.

COSLA said the search for a replacement would commence immediately.  

Mair began his local government career 39 years ago and was awarded the CBE for services to local government in 2012.

Talking this morning, Mair said: “From my first job as a Youth worker with disadvantaged groups in Blackhill, Glasgow, it has been an honour and a privilege to dedicate my entire working life to the public sector in general and local government in particular.”

Serving as COSLA chief executive had been “the highlight of my career”, he said.

It has been a hard year for the organisation, with four Labour-led councils splitting away to form their own block, called the Scottish Local Government Partnership.

This was amid claims of increasing centralisation by the Scottish Government, including a row over set teacher numbers, and a failure to properly compensate councils for the SNP's flagship pledge to keep council tax frozen.

However a report earlier this week by the Scottish Parliament’s information centre claimed councils had been more than adequately compensated.

Discussions with the Scottish Government over the spending review are ongoing.

“I feel that now more than ever before it is vital that Scottish local government talks with one strong united voice and I firmly believe that COSLA has and always will be that voice,” said Mair.

COSLA President Councillor David O’Neill said Mair had been a pleasure to work with.

“He has successfully tackled the major challenges facing the organisation during his time at the helm and has achieved real progress for both COSLA and the wider local government family more generally.

“There is absolutely no question that he re-established COSLA as a force in Scottish public life and he leaves the organisation in a much, much stronger position than the one he inherited back in 2002,” he said.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, said:  “Rory has made an enormous contribution to building the input of Local Government to the wellbeing of people in Scotland.

“He has been a pivotal figure in creating a positive working relationship between local government and the Scottish Government and should be immensely proud of his role in that regard. It numbers alongside his many other achievements as COSLA chief executive.”

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