Former provost bows out of local politics

Angus Councillor Bill Middleton steps down from local government.
Angus Councillor Bill Middleton steps down from local government.

A leading figure absent from the list of candidates for next week’s local authority elections is former Angus Provost councillor Bill Middleton.

As he prepares to bow out from local politics, the Forfar member has reflected on his role in helping shape the running of Angus Council, and his pride in forging ahead important business links with China as well as the recognition given to The Black Watch and 45 Commando who both received the Freedom of Angus and Freedom of Arbroath respectively.

His biggest achievement in his role as Provost was when he welcomed Her Majesty the Queen to Forfar and Kirriemuir in 2004, as well as his work with the local community - attending events from 100th birthdays to golden and diamond wedding anniversaries throughout Angus.

He also linked up with the Provosts from Dundee, Fife, Perth and Kinross in the fight to retain The Black Watch as a regiment in their own right, travelling to Downing Street before meeting the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon at the Ministry of Defence, in their efforts.

He said: “We knew it wasn’t going to prove possible but we did get assurances The Black Watch name would remain, and the red hackle, and we were pleased they were going to do that.”

A consummate “people person”, Bill (65) entered politics alongside his wife Glennis on the recommendation of Ian Hudghton as SNP councillors in 1995 during the “shadow year” with the formation of Angus Council, taking over in 1996.

Prior to that he had worked in Jock Lowson’s office from 1961 to 1967, staying on in the office when they merged with Dukes of Brechin.

He then worked with the Post Office from 1967 to 1974 before taking up a job with the Prudential where he worked until 1994.

A great believer in fate, he was then encouraged to stand for election alongside Glennis and so began a 17 year husband and wife team on the council.

Bill said: “George Suttie was also a great help.

“He took me round to the County Buildings to meet all the directors. That was a tremendous help.

“There was always a good relationship with the directors - I found them so helpful.

“ I had a great feeling at that time, I was so proud of the council and always made a point of thanking the staff for the work they did.”

Recognised for his gentle manner both in and out of the council chamber, Bill’s main interest was housing, working alongside the late Frank Ellis in dealing with Newmonthill.

He was convener of personnel and property and Depute Leader of the Council.

However, it was his role as Provost of Angus from 2003 to 2007 which he described as the highlight of his career, as well as the working relationship established over the years between the members and council officers “for the good of the people of Angus.”

He spoke with pride of the cultural and business links now firmly established with the council’s link up with the Yantai region of China.

He added: “I want to thank the people who kept supporting us and the way that they did over all the elections.

“That’s what allows you to carry on with the job that you are doing. I thank them all so much for their support, it meant so much to me.”