Councillor marks two decades of public service
A MORAY councillor was presented with a restored historic map of his ward as he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his election.
Elgin South member John Divers was joined by members of Moray Labour to mark the milestone, along with party members, local supporters and current and former Moray Council colleagues from across the political divide.
Cllr Divers entered the chamber at Moray Council following the May 1999 elections and has never left, having been returned to the local authority five times.
Although Cllr Ron Shepherd (Keith/Cullen) was elected in 1999, Cllr Divers' declaration came several hours earlier, making him the longest serving councillor in Moray.
The surprise party for Cllr Divers also marked 20 years since Labour returned a record six councillors to hold the balance of power within the council for the next four years.
Cllr Divers said: "Although I knew it had been 20 years this week, I had no idea anyone had any plans to celebrate the occasion. It was great to see so many friends and colleagues.
"Representing New Elgin East and subsequently Elgin City South has been a tremendous honour. Like anyone who’s been an elected representative as long as I have, I’ve seen my share of political highs and lows – and right now we’re in a definite low.
"When I was first elected we had the money and the power to bring about real change in Moray – that first four years were truly transformative.
"We totally re-structured the council and began the total overhaul of the local schools estate we can see in Moray today.
"In recent years, however, councils have been starved of cash by Holyrood and councils have been seen as a mere extension of the Scottish Government.
"What we need is a return to that ethos that existed in 1999 – with investment in local services, and councillors given genuine autonomy over what’s best for their local areas."
Speaking after the event, Moray Labour Chair, Jo Kirby, said: "John represents the best of the Labour tradition in Moray.
"He’s a hard-working and principled councillor, who’s highly visible in his community.
"John serves as a model example of the sort of service voters should expect from councillors – which is why we’re delighted to celebrate his contribution to public life in Moray."