Tributes as council director dubbed ‘Mr Falkirk’ attends final meeting before retiring

Warm tributes were paid to one of Falkirk Council’s most experienced and senior members of staff as he attended his final council meeting before retirement.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 17th February 2022, 10:40 am

Stuart Ritchie, director of corporate and housing services, is leaving a career that began in 1989, when he joined the organisation as an accountant.

He went on to work on several high profile projects, including being part of the team which helped to deliver five new secondary schools for Falkirk.

Mr Ritchie became a director in 1998, taking on responsibility for housing reshaping it into a successful service after it had been given a poor inspection report.

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Stuart Ritchie, director of corporate and housing services

In more recent years, he has also led the way as the council has attempted to modernise, establishing the Council of the Future programme.

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Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn described him as “quiet and unassuming, working away quietly in the background” but said he was an invaluable source of advice.

She added that Mr Ritchie would now have more time to on the golf course and to watch his beloved St Mirren football team.

She was not surprised to hear that he also intends to do some charity work as he was keen to “give something back” to communities.

Councillors across the chamber also praised Mr Ritchie for the support he had given them.

SNP Councillor Gary Bouse described him as “a Mr Falkirk” as he is so passionate about the area and praised him for how he “cared 100 per cent” about the people he worked with.

Conservative leader James Kerr said he would miss the “open conversations” they had had.

And Councillor Allyson Black added: “He was always very open and frank and sometimes that could hurt – but he always kept us right,” she said.

“He was also a champion for his staff because he knew how hard they worked.”

The meeting also agreed a new title for whoever replaces Mr Ritchie.

While the responsibilities won’t change, and the remit will still include housing, the newcomer will be known as director of transformation, communities and corporate services.

Interim arrangements are currently being made as it estimated that recruitment will take around six months.

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