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Highland Council senior officer retiring after 35 years says team efforts during coronavirus crisis "outstanding"

By Val Sweeney

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Carron McDiarmid.
Carron McDiarmid.

A senior officer at Highland Council is retiring after 35 years of public service.

Carron McDiarmid, executive chief officer, communities and place, was previously the council’s head of policy for many years and led the first phase of council redesign.

She also undertook a secondment in the role of the chief operating officer for the Scottish Police Authority during 2018/19, before taking up her current post.

Ms McDiarmid, who leaves her post early in the new year, said she is keen to explore new opportunities.

She paid tribute to her colleagues and described their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic as "outstanding" .

"It has been a privilege to work with so many committed and talented staff and members over the years in the council," she said.

"Establishing and leading the new communities and place service since 2019 alongside a great team has been especially fulfilling.

"Their response over the past 20 months has been outstanding, adjusting all our frontline public services for waste, environmental health, amenity, registrar, customer services and bereavement services.

"Key achievements have also been supporting the visitor management plan and initiating over 10 vital Covid-19 projects ranging from running helplines, providing mobile vaccination and testing units and other support for NHS Highland’s public health team.

"We have engaged with over 300 community groups, distributing community grants, and providing food and other support throughout the pandemic."

She felt fortunate in having a Lochaber focus, too, chairing the Fort William 2040 Board of partners and had been inspired by the communities in Muck, Rum, Eigg and Knoydart from recent visits.

"All of these experiences show there are many ways to be active in community and public life and I am keen to explore new opportunities," she said.

"I’m glad to have been part of a dedicated senior team under Donna Manson’s dynamic leadership."

Chief executive Donna Manson said: "Carron has been a high performing chief officer in the council’s executive chief officer team.

"She is a very experienced, talented and able leader, with a huge amount to offer in any walk of life. She will be very much missed by her colleagues and I know she will stay connected."

Cllr Allan Henderson, chairman of the communities and place committee, said: "It has been my pleasure to chair the communities and place committee since its inception under the guidance of Carron.

"She is an exceptional officer with a cool and clear head which works strategically for the whole of the Highlands, along with her brief for Lochaber.

"This has all been delivered through the Covid period. Carron will be a great success at whatever she chooses to do post council."

Applications have been invited internally for an interim post pending permanent recruitment to be arranged.

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