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Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner vows to serve Caithness constituents first


By Scott Maclennan

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Councillor Raymond Bremner was elected as the leader of Highland Council.
Councillor Raymond Bremner was elected as the leader of Highland Council.

For the first time since it was inaugurated, Highland Council has a Gaelic speaker and a member for Caithness as its leader in Raymond Bremner, who has said he is a “Caithness councillor first and foremost”.

Last week, the Wick and East Caithness councillor was formally confirmed as the leader of the political administration after weeks of speculation. He won a vote by 40 to 27 after the Liberal Democrats challenged him for the leadership, nominating their own group leader Alasdair Christie.

Cllr Bremner immediately laid out what would be the agenda for the administration, which he will lead in coalition with the Independent group, citing the local economy, business and housing among the priorities.

Though he will have a mountain to climb as leader due to the deeply challenging issues facing the local authority, he made it clear that he would not be forgetting the people who elected him.

“I will do my best for this council but while I do so, you will not be surprised to hear me say that I am a Caithness councillor first and foremost, and you will appreciate that it is them that I owe my first, although now equal, attention.”

Cllr Bremner aims to chart a new course for the council, away from the deep divisions and bitterness of the Margaret Davidson years, while at the same time becoming more business friendly.

“I think that people who know me know that I’m not into the divisive politics of it all,” he said.

“I get on really well with Struan Mackie [Caithness councillor and co-leader of the Conservative group]. We’ve got form for getting on but I also got on well with Alister Mackinnon [former Dingwall and Seaforth councillor] when he was leader of the budget and a big part of the Independent-LibDem-Labour administration previously.

“Politics is as divisive as we want it to be. I think that we’ve got an opportunity now and, although you’ve got a joint administration there, we’ve got relationships that we’ve built with others over the past couple of years.

“Certainly I would like to think that that will put us in good stead, even though you have got an administration and you have got an opposition, that we can do things together.”

Cllr Bremner’s first major hurdle will come next week when the council will consider who gets the top committee jobs.


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