Falkirk Council: New Provost honoured to take on the role

The new Provost of Falkirk has urged councillors to work together to help local communities, as he said he is honoured to take on the role as the district’s First Citizen.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 27th May 2022, 7:00 am

At the first meeting of Falkirk Council since the election on May 5, Provost Robert Bissett was elected, receiving 21 votes while his Conservative rival, James Kerr, got eight.

As Provost, he will chair meetings of Falkirk Council and he pledged to be fair and impartial in the role.

Provost Bissett said: “It is a great honour to be elected as the Provost of Falkirk and I am grateful to the council for putting its trust in me to perform this role.

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Provost Robert Bissett

“I was elected a Labour councillor but I will be Provost for all councillors and all the people of Falkirk.”

He pledged to work hard to present a positive view of Falkirk as its civic head.

He added: “At the start of a five-year term, we must look beyond the disagreements of the past. We have too often presented a picture of a council that was incapable of reaching agreement.

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“We need to look forward – we need to promote collaboration and shared solutions to the problems and the challenges faced by our communities.

“Where we cannot agree, we must do so respectfully – I cannot emphasise that point enough.”

Provost Bissett also thanked his predecessor, Billy Buchanan, for the work he had done during his term in the role, saying he “will be a very hard act to follow”.

Councillor Buchanan congratulated Provost Bissett on his appointment and said he would be “a very worthy successor”

Mr Buchanan also thanked the outgoing Depute Provost, Ann Ritchie – now an Independent councillor for Bo’ness – for her “wonderful work”.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Buchanan said taking on the role had been a huge honour that he would always be grateful for and he wished his successor well.

“I’m delighted that I was given the opportunity. It’s a big responsibility but it’s a very worthwhile position to be in and a real honour to the civic head of your district.”

Provost Bissett, who is also a councillor in Falkirk North, shares Mr Buchanan’s interest in the district’s history and military connections.

Over the last few years, the new Provost has campaigned to build a war memorial in Bainsford, a project that will very soon become a reality.

He is also very involved in the group Falkirk Made Friends, which aims to preserve the history of local industry, in particular the engineering and craftsmanship of the many iron foundries the district was once home to.

SNP councillor David Balfour was elected as the new Depute Provost.

The meeting also elected the district’s first Young People’s Champion, with Labour’s Euan Stainbank, who at 22 is the youngest councillor, taking on the new role.

Its first Veterans’ Champion will be Labour’s Margaret Anslow who was unopposed after Cllr Robert Spears declined the Conservative nomination.

The new Older People’s Champion will be the new Labour councillor for Denny and Banknock, Alf Kelly,

SNP councillor Laura Murtagh will be the new Equalities and Human Rights champion.

Last term, Ms Murtagh pushed for policies that would make the council more diverse and urged members to focus more on equalities.