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Revealed: Which Highland councillors are stepping down at May’s elections

Some of the Highlands’ longest serving councillors are to step down at May’s local elections to make way for fresh talent.

Eight veterans have confirmed their departure with seven still to declare their position while 63 councillors intend to run again.

For some, enforced change will have an impact as a boundary shake-up affects six wards. The 80-seat authority will be cut to 74.

In a parting shot, one member took a swipe at the council’s failure to better protect the most vulnerable in society.

Caol and Mallaig representative Bill Clark, a passionate SNP advocate involved in politics since a teenager, said: “When it comes to saving money, the most vulnerable have always been easy targets.

“Anyone can make decisions to save money by making people redundant and cutting services. Unfortunately, there’s a major impact on lower paid staff.”

Former deputy council leader and ex Liberal Democrat group leader David Alston will retire after 18 years having been appointed chairman of NHS Highland.

He feels it would be inappropriate to continue as a councillor.

“It’s been a privilege to serve the community in that role,” he said.

Others confirming their departure are Dave Fallows, George Farlow, Bren Gormley, Brian Murphy and Thomas Prag.

Mr Fallows said: “At 69, there’s a risk of becoming stale as age creeps in and addles my brain even more than it already is.”

Mr Farlow hoped to continue influencing policy but said he would not miss driving the vast distances demanded by being a far flung councillor.

Mr Gormley, who has also served for a decade, said: “Those years have flown by and hope I contributed something along the way.”

Mr Murphy turned 70 last October and feels it is time for someone younger.

The Labour activist said: “I just wonder how much longer the SNP Government’s going to do the Tories’ dirty work for them.”

Mr Prag, who served 10 years and has also hit 70, said: “It’s time to move on for the next phase of my life before I turn into the grumpy old man on the back benches, talking about how things used to be done so much better – which is rarely true, of course.”

Mr Wood said he, too, was “stepping aside for a younger person.”

His Lib Dem colleague Kate Stephen, who serves Culloden and Ardersier, will stand for re-election but in her home territory of Lochcarron in the ward of Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh instead.

There are two vacant seats following the death of John Ford and resignation of Gail Ross.