Seventeen years in local government

LONG SERVICE: Ian Mackintosh has bowed after 17 years in local government.
LONG SERVICE: Ian Mackintosh has bowed after 17 years in local government.

A CHANCE meeting away back in 1995 led a Kirriemuir farmer into local government.

Ian Mackintosh, who has bowed out of his role on Angus Council after 17 years’ service, recalled how a meeting of the local NFU led to him being asked to follow in the footsteps of retiring Conservative councillors and stand for election in local government.

“In 1995, when the District/Region set up was changing to the new unitary authority, I was attending a meeting of the NFU locally as area president,” he recalls.

“Gillian Shepherd, the then Minister for Agriculture, was touring the area and was in attendance, as were Ruth Dundas and Hugh Arbuthnott, who were stepping down as councillors on the District and Regional Councils respectively.

“I was approached and asked if I would be interested in putting my name forward as a candidate for the then Northmuir and the Glens ward on the new Angus Council.”

Mr Mackintosh agreed and has never regretted the decision.

He recalls scraping in by 17 votes after two or three recounts - and that led to 17 continuous years serving the area on the local authority.

For three terms he served in opposition to an SNP administration but, for the last term, when the new multi-ward system was introduced, he found himself playing a leading role in an alliance administration.

He was elected depute leader of the council and also served as the convener of the Tayside Joint Police Board.

He enjoyed his police role immensely.

“It gave me a great insight into how police service operated,” he commented. “It is not just about dealing with crime and arresting people, it has such a huge portfolio these days.”

Mr Mackintosh said he was proud of a number of achievements that has helped the local community - in particular the creation of the Isla Primary School.

“I was very much for the protection of rural education, at the same time understanding why some schools faced closure.

“We consulted with the people in the various communities and won them round - resulting in the building of a new school at Lintrathen which will ensure education serving the area for many years to come. I also feel the new school has helped to bring three communities together.”

As local councillor, Mr Mackintosh persuaded the authority to introduce winter gritting in the Angus glens at weekends.

“The roads were gritted Monday to Friday and the administration at the time took the view that there were not enough people using the glens roads to warrant weekend gritting.

“But I saw the glens as a major local tourist attraction, and that has been proved right, with the number of people visiting in the winter months increasing dramatically.”

Other notable achievements to benefit the local community in recent years include the provision of an all-weather pitch at Webster’s High School and the creation of a Peter Pan playpark on Kirrie Hill.

Mr Mackintosh is also looking forward to the opening of the new police museum, to be housed in the police office in Reform Street, adding to the local attractions in the area.

“We need to accept that Kirriemuir is a tourist area and we need places for people to visit when the weather is not so good.

“The police museum will be a developing process and I feel it is important, as we move towards a single police force for Scotland, for people to have a reminder of what policing was like in years gone by.”

Having called it a day after 17 years serving the community Mr Mackintosh will be able to concentrate on his other love - farming.

He is the third generation of the Mackintosh family at the 600-acre livestock and arable farm, Kirkton of Kingoldrum, with his son, Alastair, following in his footsteps.

“I don’t do so much of the heavy lifting these days, but there is plenty of administrative work to keep me going.”

Mr Mackintosh is also looking forward to spending more time with his wife Alison, who was tremendously supportive of his council duties.