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Council Leader Resigns
The long time leader of North Lanarkshire Council sensationally quit on Monday night sparking a local Labour leadership contest.
Jim McCabe will formally step down as Council Leader at the end of February just before £100m worth of cuts will be implemented across the local authority and just over a year until the Local Government elections in 2017.
75 year old Councillor McCabe, who took over the Leader’s role back in 1998, was described a ‘giant of local government’ by one Labour councillor.
Mr McCabe said: “I’m very proud of the council’s achievements during my time as leader. I have overseen the investment of half a billion pounds in new schools and we have built hundreds of new houses. Our groundbreaking Youth Investment Programme has got more than 6,000 people into work and we have been recognised by the Nuffield Trust as among the world leaders in delivering integrated social care. We have hosted an outstanding International Children’s Games in 2011 and events for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and we won the bid to host the British Transplant Games in 2017.
“My focus right now is on setting a budget. This has been made a hugely difficult task by the cuts we’ve experienced from the Scottish Government and we face some unpalatable choices. But we will do everything we can to protect services for the most vulnerable people in North Lanarkshire. Being leader of this council is all-consuming. I have young grandchildren and I’d very much like to spend more time with them. Although I will stay on as a councillor, the time is now right to pass on the baton to a new leader who can drive the council forward in the future. It is up to the group to decide who that leader will be, but he or she will have my full support.”
Craigneuk elected member Gary O’Rorke said: “Jim’s contribution to North Lanarkshire Council and to local government in Scotland has been immense. His record speaks for itself and I’m extremely disappointed that he hasn’t decided to carry on until 2017. Personally I would like to see the next Leader keep the council’s good work going.”
Mr McCabe’s political opponents have also given their reaction to the news.
Shotts’ SNP MSP Alex Neil said: “We have expected this for some time. I wish Mr McCabe all the best personally. However politically he overstayed his welcome and has left a big mess for his successor to clear up. I hope there are more resignations from his colleagues many of whom have failed to deliver for the people of North Lanarkshire.”
Councillor McCabe started work as a miner in 1955 and then became a fitter erector before working offshore. Between 1985 and 1997 he worked in the social work department of Strathclyde Regional Council.
He was elected to Motherwell District Council in 1992 and became depute leader of North Lanarkshire Council on local government reorganisation in 1996. He was elected leader of the council in 1998.
Married to Margaret for more than 50 years, he has a son and a daughter and three grandchildren.