Newly-elected trainee doctor tells Highland Council it must do more to support working-age councillors
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Councillor David Gregg made the comments at the first meeting of the new Highland Council last week
The Liberal Democrat member is a trainee doctor elected to represent the ward of Inverness Millburn.
Cllr Gregg got to his feet last week during a row about the date of the Inverness area committee, due to meet next Wednesday.
He was one of several members to challenge a late change of date for the meeting.
“Happily, there was talk in the speech from [new council leader] Raymond Bremner about reversing the trend of young people leaving the Highlands,” Cllr Gregg said.
“There’s a lot of us elected onto this council but a lot of us are working full-time, working night shifts.
"It’s important we can schedule these meetings around our work shifts so we’ve got voices of people who are still working to give an opinion.”
He added: “I’ve already used up annual leave and scheduled shifts around meetings that have now been cancelled.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Gregg said this is one of the youngest councils to date.
In the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Gregg, Molly Nolan, Morven-May MacCallum and Colin Aitken are all aged under 30.
The Conservatives, Greens and SNP also have several young councillors among their ranks.
“In general Highland Council does a reasonable job, because they normally publish a whole year’s schedule, and it’s fixed,” Cllr Gregg said.
“But certainly over the first few weeks there’s been a lot of ‘please attend this session, it’s mandatory and it’s in three weeks’.
“For anyone who is working it’s difficult to reschedule at such short notice. Realistically they need to give good, decent notice of changes to meetings.”
Cllr Gregg said it is not just an issue for young people or working people, but also for members with children or caring responsibilities.
He praised Teams meetings as an “excellent” step to help working members and rural members make it to meetings.
“If you don’t make meetings accessible – if you put up barriers – you don’t get a representative council,” he said.
“During our campaign a lot of constituents said it was great to see young people running. I think Highland Council now looks much more like the people we represent.”