Tributes for retiring Highland Council chief executive

Retiring Steve Barron was presented with a Quaich

Retiring Highland Council chief executive Steve Barron received tributes from councillors across the chamber yesterday as he attended his final meeting of the council.

Mr Barron retires after 10 years’ service with the local authority, the last five of which were as chief executive. Steve joined the council in 2008 as Director of housing and property prior to which he was managing director of Robertson Facilities Management.

Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson, said: “During his time as director, the council’s property team transformed into a leading design team in the north delivering a stream of award winning projects such as the Highland Archive Centre and Milton of Leys Primary School.

“In 2013 Steve was promoted to the position of chief executive and has presided over the most challenging period which Highland Council has ever experienced. Local government funding has fallen in real terms by over 7% in five years and Highland has seen a reduction in funding per head of population of £172 over that time.

“Addressing these financial challenges Steve has led a focus on transformation and efficiency – aiming to deliver the same quality of services at lower cost. This work has developed into a new and unique Redesign approach to improvement and efficiency in which staff, elected Members and Trade Union reps have collaborated enthusiastically to drive change.

“We thank you Steve, for your leadership and contributions to Highland over these extremely challenging times and wish you all the best in a long and happy retirement.”

Council convener, Cllr Bill Lobban, said: “In Steve’s time as chief executive the council has secured an acclaimed City-Region Deal, delivered major developments in Caithness and Lochaber, completed the West Link on time and on budget and enhanced its reputation at national level as the pioneer of integrated children’s services. The council also became a major housing developer again and has built hundreds of superb new council homes for families across the Highlands.

“Best wishes on your retirement which we hope will be healthy and happy.”

Commenting on his time in the top job, Mr Barron paid tribute to “brilliant staff” and “great teamwork” noting that perhaps the most challenging and exciting part of the job was in his role as returning officer.

He said: “As returning officer, along with the elections team, I have run many major electoral events including the Scottish Independence Referendum; the referendum on leaving the European Union; not to mention a snap General Election which was a particularly challenging time. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as chief executive and am very grateful to the elected members and council staff for their support in making the Highlands the best place in Scotland to live and work.”

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