A VETERAN politician who served as a councillor for almost 40 years has stepped down due to ill health.
Former miner Peter Boyes, 68, who represented Midlothian East, sat as an independent following his resignation from the Labour party after more than four decades last August.
Councillor Boyes has battled prostate cancer and suffered a “mini-stroke” in recent years, prompting his decision to stand down to spend more time with wife Mary, daughters Mandy and Angela, and his three grand-daughters.
In his resignation letter, the former soldier said it had been a “privilege and an honour” to serve as a councillor, a role he has had since 1978 when he was elected to Lothian Regional Council.
Council chiefs – who today paid tribute to the stalwart – said a by-election would be held on or before December 2.
SNP council leader Owen Thompson said: “The experience and knowledge Cllr Boyes brought to the council chamber will be sadly missed by all of his colleagues.
“A man who did not pull any verbal punches, he certainly livened up many council debates. We are all very sorry to hear of his recent ill-health and our thoughts are with him and his family.”
Cllr Adam Montgomery, from Labour, said: “Peter’s been a friend and fellow councillor since 1986 when I was elected to Lothian Regional Council. He’s been a long-standing councillor and well-known local figure. We’re sorry to see him go and wish him all the best.”
The SNP group controls the authority with eight councillors while Labour has seven. Cllr Boyes was one of three independents.
A senior council source said: “Cllr de Vink is independent and Cllr Baxter is with the Greens. Both vote to support the SNP and their allegiance seems unlikely to change. A Labour win in the by-election isn’t going to alter council control at the moment.”
In his letter, Cllr Boyes said he was “particularly proud to have been instrumental” in ensuring a new Newbattle High School would be created. He resigned from Labour after clashing with colleagues over the project.
A family friend said: “His mind’s as sharp as ever but his body’s been letting him down.”
Cllr Boyes, who worked as a miner at Monktonhall Colliery, represented Easthouses/Mayfield on Lothian Regional Council, enjoying a spell as education vice-chair.
A one-time cabinet member for education and lifelong learning with Midlothian Council, he was one of two miners appointed as directors in the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, set up in 1999 to manage funding to help regenerate former mining communities.