Skye councillor to stand down

Skye councillor Professor Ronald MacDonald is to stand down as a member of Highland Council.

Councillor MacDonald was elected in 2017 as an independent candidate to represent the Skye and Raasay ward.

Along with members of the local community in north Skye he fought vigorously and successfully against the threat of services at Portree Hospital being downgraded. He has also been one of the key figures in the implementation of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s out-of-hours health care recommendations for Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.

In a letter to council chief executive officer Donna Manson, he said he had stood for office on a single issue – the reform and redesign of health and social care in the area. Although he had been happy to get involved in a wide range of other issues since being elected, the implementation of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s report had been his main brief and had resulted in a considerable additional workload.

“With a number of important initiatives relating to the Ritchie implementation process upcoming in the new year,” he added, “I now realise that being a councillor is no longer a sustainable working model for me.”

In addition to his duties as a councillor, Ronald MacDonald is a research professor of macroeconomics and international finance in the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow and has acted as a consultant to institutions including the European Commission and the World Bank.

Professor MacDonald told the Free Press his decision to stand down had been “difficult” and it had been a “great privilege and honour” to serve as an elected member of the ward.

His resignation is effective from Thursday 19th December, and the council will require to hold a by-election within three months of that date.

Fellow councillor John Finlayson paid tribute to Professor MacDonald. He said: “I have greatly valued Ronald’s input over the last two-and-a-half years with regard to in particular, health issues and issues relating to finance and infrastructure. He made clear at the council elections in 2017 that he was standing on health care issues with particular reference to those affecting north Skye.

“Things have changed greatly in relation to these issues since May 2107 and the ongoing implementation of many of the Ritchie recommendations mean Ronald continues to be actively involved with work in these areas. On a personal and professional level, I would like to thank Ronald for all his contributions during his time as a councillor and I wish him well for the future.”

Councillor John Gordon added: “Ronald will be a big loss on the Highland Council, he has been one of the hardest working councillors who has achieved an incredible amount for this area over the last two years. It proves the calibre of the man when he has resigned to give more of his time to working on the future of NHS services in Skye and Rassay, which is a huge reassurance to communities regarding ongoing work with NHS Highland.

“I will miss working with Ronald on the council. His honesty, integrity, work ethic and advice have been invaluable and wish him and Catriona the best in all they’re involved with going forward.”