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Education leader calls it a day

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
Education leader calls it a day

JEFF Leaver first got involved in politics at the age of seven – and he’s finally ready to call it a day before he turns 70.

The Lochar councillor, and chairman of Dumfries and Galloway’s education committee, announced last week that he won’t be standing for re-election on May 5.

Both Jeff, right, and his wife, council leader Elaine Murray, have made a joint decision to step back from politics and enjoy their retirement.

Jeff, 69, said: “I have been interested in politics from an early age and can remember cycling around the pit village where I lived, at the age of seven, in the run-up to the 1959 general election, with a ‘vote Labour’ pennant on my bike.

“This was in County Durham and in those villages and in those days the Labour vote was weighed not counted!

“I’ll be almost 70 in May and I think it is time to stand down. We now have five grandchildren, aged from five years to two months, and it will be great to spend more time with them and their parents and to help out when we can.

“We also have an elderly motorhome, which hasn’t done many miles over the past few years, and it will be good to see more of the country and possibly Europe at a leisurely pace.”

Having met Elaine in London, Jeff worked as a research biochemist and joined the Labour Party in Slough in 1984 during the miner’s strike.

The couple first moved to Prestwick in 1989 and then switched to Dumfries after Elaine’s election to the Scottish Parliament.

“I decided to stand for election once our three children were well into their teenage years,” said Jeff. “That was 15 years ago.

“The role of a councillor is amazingly varied. It gives you huge opportunities to meet a vast variety of people and organisations.

“It’s not just emptying the bins and fixing the street lights. It delivers a host of other services which make all our lives better.

“I’ve really enjoyed trying to help my constituents with their problems when I can, although sometimes the outcome is not what they want.”

Jeff described almost nine years as education committee chairman as “a real privilege, albeit occasionally challenging”.

He said: “We’ve built and modernised a lot of schools, appointed a lot of new head teachers and staff at all levels, and I think education in Dumfries and Galloway is in a good position to enable all of our young people to achieve their full potential both academically and personally.”


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