Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council retires from politics

The first female leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council is due to retire in May – after nearly three decades in politics.

Labor councilor Elaine Murray, 67, who was also an MSP from 1999 to 2016, has held the most senior position in the local authority for the past five years.

Her husband Jeff Leaver, 69, who is also an adviser and chair of the education committee, is also stepping down.

The couple are looking forward to spending more quality time with their family.

Dr Murray said: ‘We now have five grandchildren and I would love to spend more time with them and be able to help with childcare.

“I’ve been elected to local or national politics for 27 out of the last 28 years and I think that’s long enough.

“I want to do other things while I’m still fit and healthy.”

A graduate of Cambridge University with a doctorate in physical chemistry, Dr Murray entered politics as a councilor for Strathclyde County Council in 1994.

She then moved to Holyrood and was MSP for Dumfries from 1999 to 2011 and then for Dumfriesshire from 2011 to 2016.

Education Committee Chair, Councilor Jeff Leaver

Dr Murray held several key posts, including shadow environment minister, before losing his seat in 2016.

The following year she was elected councilor for Nith ward and was soon appointed as the first female leader of Dumfries and Galloway council.

The race for the top job has been a bumpy one for the past five years, with the council caught up in failed multimillion-pound contracts and then the pandemic hit hard.

She admitted it was a difficult time, saying, “This administration hasn’t had its challenges.

“We have inherited many long-standing issues that date back years, including DGOne, the waste management contract, the trunk roads contract and most recently the NW campus construction issues.

“The biggest challenge, as for everyone, has to be the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Council staff have done an incredible job of keeping essential services running and providing support to individuals and businesses.

Yesterday afternoon it emerged that Deputy Leader SNP Abbey Councilor Rob Davidson is also standing down in the May election.

He has been appointed to South of Scotland Enterprise’s new Natural Capital team.

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