Winchburgh Councillor Chris Horne raised the motion which was accepted unanimously. Only nine of the 32 local authorities in Scotland currently has a champion to promote the rights and welfare of senior citizens in their counties.
In his motion, he said: “This role is to be ambassador for this group of people, as well as someone who actively speaks up to challenge the actions of this council to ensure it meets the interests of our older people. We do well, but could we do better?”
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that West Lothian Council has decided to create this new role, and I’m sure it will make a real difference to the lives of older people.
“There’s never been a greater need to ensure older people’s voices are heard and they can play a full part in our communities. West Lothian is predicted to see a steep rise in the number of people aged 75 and over in the coming years.
“The impact of Covid-19 on older people has highlighted the need for this role, with many struggling to cope with record levels of loneliness and isolation. As we look ahead to a recovery, the Older People’s Champion will ensure that those affected by the pandemic are not forgotten or excluded from local democracy.
“Across Scotland, champions have already played a key role in pushing for improvements, from better public transport and toilet provision to supporting community groups and activities. I’ve no doubt that whoever is chosen for this role will have a similar success in making West Lothian a better place for all older people.”
After the meeting Cllr Horne said: “I am delighted and very proud to have led the creation of an Older People’s Champion, highlighting the need for a stronger voice for older people in local decision making. My hope is that this person will ensure the best for our older communities, whilst also speaking out to highlight the good things that are maybe hidden but available for older people. We can also make our communities much more aware of what each of us can do to make the lives of our older neighbours easier.”
Local public transport, road safety and parking, community support, and celebrating older volunteers could be some of the first issues on the Older People’s Champion’s agenda, he added.
The first post holder is expected to be chosen at the next full council meeting.