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Council / Tributes to convener as current council draws to a close

Convener Malcolm Bell chairs the first council meeting in the new chamber at St Ringan's church earlier this year. Photo: SIC

THERE was high praise in the council chamber yesterday morning (Wednesday) for convener Malcolm Bell as he presided over his last meeting.

The Lerwick councillor is hanging up his boots after a decade in the role.

He chairs meetings of the full council and Wednesday’s session was his last in the hot seat.

In something of a juxtaposition, it happened to be the first meeting held in the new chamber at St Ringan’s.

As the public part of the meeting came to a close, Bell took time to praise the staff who keep the council running day to day.

Meanwhile the former police chief said council leader Steven Coutts, who is also standing down, has “truly raised the standing of this council”.

There was also praise for depute convener Cecil Smith. “It’s always a great comfort to have someone as steady as Cecil sitting next to you at council meetings,” Bell said.

The convener then paid tribute to outgoing committee chairs George Smith and Alastair Cooper.

Bell added that being a councillor “has been the biggest honour of my entire life”.

But the tables were turned when Coutts gave some closing remarks.

He said it was “quite emotional” as the council term approached its end.

The leader said Bell has set a “very high standard” in figure heading the council, describing him as a “real champion of local democracy”.

There are only a few council meetings left in the diary before the 5 May election. There is the licensing board and planning committee on Monday, before the integration joint board next Thursday and the pension fund committee the following week.