The co leaders of the SNP group on Highland Council are to step down after two and a half years.
Councillors Maxine Smith and Ian Cockburn, who are also joint leaders of the opposition on the council, will confirm their decision at the group’s annual meeting in September.
Councillor Smith said: “I’ve very much enjoyed every role I’ve held in the council and will continue to present for election in 2022 for the Cromarty Firth ward. However whilst I’m no stranger to hard work there comes a time when things change in your life and you have to re-evaluate.
“Last year I started a new cruise tour company and I still run two Highland beauty salons. Covid-19 wiped all of these businesses out and only recently have the two salons been able to re- open. The excursion company will hopefully return next year. Covid-19 has taken its toll and it will take many months to revive the businesses to their former success.
“I’ll miss my leader’s role but a few weeks ago I was elected as chairman of the new tourism committee in Highland Council despite being in the opposition and last year as chairman of the Board of Albyn Housing Society having served on their board for almost 15 years. This takes up quite a lot of time but it’s local to Invergordon. So I’ll still have plenty of work to do but it’ll be nearer my home town.
“I will also retain my role as chairman of the Council’s North Planning Committee which I enjoy as I can help make a positive difference to our Highland economy. Our Highland planners are first class.
“I wish my successor well and I’ll still be there in the group to help when called upon.”
Mr Cockburn said: “I have enjoyed working with Maxine and my colleagues in this role. I have also been successful in helping, along with my ward colleagues, to set up an area committee for ward 5 Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh and have just been voted in as chair.
“I want to focus my time on this role in creating opportunities and developing this wonderful and often forgotten part of the Highlands.”