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Angus Council leader u-turns on retirement plan and WILL stand again in May election

David Fairweather has decided to stand for re-election on May 5. Pic: Paul Reid/Roddie Reid/DCT Media.
David Fairweather has decided to stand for re-election on May 5. Pic: Paul Reid/Roddie Reid/DCT Media.

Angus Council’s leader is throwing his hat back into the local government ring.

It comes nearly 20 months after Arbroath Independent David Fairweather declared retirement couldn’t “come too soon”.

In August 2020 he said he’d had enough after 15 years as a councillor.

David Fairweather
Angus Council leader David Fairweather at the budget-setting in February. Pic: Paul Reid.

And former Angus SNP group leader Lynne Devine has also changed her mind and is running for re-election in Forfar.

She stepped down as opposition group leader in May 2021.

Leader since 2018

Mr Fairweather has led the Tory/Independent administration since former figurehead Bob Myles was toppled in a 2018 coup.

The Arbroath West and Letham member will be 66 when voters go to the polls on May 5.

He said: “My decision to stand for election was taken after discussions with family, friends and local business people.

“I have led this council through the most challenging financial times the authority has faced.

David Fairweather
David Fairweather and Angus Council chief executive Margo Williamson. Pic: Paul Reid.

“We have also had to deal with the pandemic and the consequences of it whilst still delivering the services our residents deserve.

“Many difficult decisions had to be made and going forward many more are to come.

“I believe my experience and knowledge of local government will help continue achieve the best possible outcomes for the citizens of Angus.”

Catalogue of controversy

But his time on the tiller has been riddled with controversy.

Within months of the coalition seizing power back from the SNP following the 2017 election, Mr Fairweather resigned as deputy leader.

It was in a protest over the handling of a recycling centres shake-up.

But he returned soon after, and then assumed the £36,000-a-year top spot.

He oversaw the controversial re-introduction of parking charges to Angus after an absence of more than 20 years.

Angus parking charges
The return of parking charges to Angus led to petition and protest. Pic: Paul Reid.

But he came under fire after being caught parking for free in a Forfar supermarket while at a council meeting.

In 2019, he was criticised for posting a doctored Tweet of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with the word ‘hope’ altered to ‘dope’.

And the latter stages of his leadership have been particularly turbulent.

Last March, two councillors quit the ruling coalition amidst claims of an “unhealthy culture” at the top.

Mr Fairweather offered to step down but was backed by coalition colleagues.

He was condemned for bringing shamed former Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Moore back into the administration.

Mr Moore was banned from council meetings for three months in 2018 after a standards hearing found him guilty of inappropriate conduct towards four women at an official event.

The move maintained the coalition’s control of the council.

Lady Whistledown scandal

Then, last June, came a social media scandal which rocked the authority.

Fellow Arbroath councillor and close coalition ally Derek Wann was unmasked as the figure behind the Lady Whistledown Twitter troll account.

Mr Wann resigned as education convener, but was allowed to remain in the ruling group in a heavily criticised decision.

David Fairweather
Angus Council leader David Fairweather and Derek Wall are close coalition allies. Pic: Gareth Jennings/DCT Media.

But Forfar Conservative Braden Davy stepped down from the administration after he admitted running a rule-breaking Facebook account.

He was the council’s economic development spokesman before falling on his sword over the account encouraging people to vote for him in the Scottish parliamentary election.

The debacle prompted Mr Fairweather to stop using Twitter within days, branding it “toxic”.

Forfar contest

Meanwhile, Ms Devine has remained tight-lipped on her decision to stand in the four-member Forfar fight.

Monifieth and Sidlaws councillor Beth Whiteside took over the group leader’s role Ms Devine had held for four years.

Lynne Devine
Lynne Devine is seeking re-election in Forfar. Pic: Paul Smith.

Last May, Ms Devine said: “I think it’s really important that someone who is standing again should have the opportunity of being leader of the opposition for the next year to gain that experience.

“In terms of succession planning it certainly makes sense.”

When asked if she would want to make any comment on the u-turn she said: “Not really, sorry.”

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