2016 Senior Councillor Posts
I have been a Cromarty Firth Ward councillor since 2007. In the first 5 years I was given the position of SNP Group Whip, so played an important part within my own group, but as it was my first innings as a councillor I did not have a promoted post. I quickly realised though that if you were a 'senior' councillor you had more access to knowledge and a higher ability to get things done both for the wider Highlands but also for your own ward.
I was thankfully re-elected in 2012 and was given several promoted positions. I was appointed Vice Convener of Highland Council, which was a civic role, more like a provost, and I had to chair the Full Council if the Convener was absent. I was also given the post of Convener of the Highland Licensing Board and Highland Licensing Committee. I loved this job and am still on the HLB/HLC, but no longer in charge. Holding a senior position means you are able to access people and facilities a little easier, so I made the most of that and started a series of projects for my ward, specifically Invergordon. I held these positions until May 2015 when my boss (the then Cllr. Drew Hendry, now an MP), decided to have a re-shuffle in his leaders' team. I was given another promotion to Budget Leader/Chairman of Resources, which is the Council's finance committee. This opened up many doors for me with insights into the Council's finances and where the money was held etc. so this was an excellent chance to look for ways of funding my Invergordon projects, going forward. My boss decided I could cope with all three positions so did not remove any of them from me - luckily a woman can multi-task! So I held 3 senior positions for the whole year of 2014 until May 2015.
Fall of the Administration in 2015
In May 2015 my boss was elected to the UK Parliament, so he stepped down from leading our SNP Group of 20 and they had a vote for a new leader. I was so happy to be voted in as their new Group Leader, a position I still hold. At that time the SNP were leading the Highland Council so for 3 weeks I was expecting to become the Leader of the Highland Council - this is the top job that any councillor can aspire to and I was about to get it! However, 2 weeks before my position was agreed in Full Council, the Administration Alliance fell apart because the Liberal Democrats, who were upset at losing their two MP's, John Thurso and Charles Kennedy to the SNP, decided to pull out of the Administration to try and align themselves with the Independent Group who were then in the Opposition.
This meant that although I was leader of my own Group I would not become Leader of the Council as the Administration had fallen. Over 3 weeks the different parties all tried to negotiate their positions until finally we came up with an idea which would mean the Liberals could also no longer have any power, mostly thanks to the quick thinking of my Depute Leader in the SNP Group, Cllr. Richard Laird, so we made a pact with the Independents that we would 'allow' them to become a minority Administration, by never taking part in a vote of 'no confidence' in them in the Council chamber. We would oppose other things, but we would not allow them to fall from power for the remaining 2 years of the Council term. So, although we were in Opposition, it also meant that the Lib Dems, who had stabbed us in the back by trying to go with the Independents, had also been thrust into the Opposition too, alongwith their allies, the Labour Group so now in Highland Council we have the Independents in Administration with all other political Groups and parties in the Opposition, but as the SNP make up the largest group we are the main Opposition, therefore instead of becoming Leader of the Council, I became Leader of the Opposition, which is still a senior position, but obviously not as senior as the Leader of the Council.
This meant that I was able to ditch my other senior positions and gave the Vice Convener, Convener of Licensing and Budget Leader off to other people. Although, because I had gone into Opposition it was not within my gift to say who got them, but luckily two of the positions were given to members of my Group.
Current Position as at June 2015 to present
So currently I have one senior role, which is a very important one, as Leader of the Opposition, I am party to many useful meetings and decisions, many of which impact upon my own ward and I am able to influence what happens at the highest levels in Highland and Easter Ross. I also enjoy leading my SNP Group of 20 in Highland Council, as they are all very talented people, serving their own wards and the Highlands with passion and enthusiasm, as do I.