FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has paid tribute to leading SNP figure Tom Buchanan, who is to be laid to rest at a service that will bring the city’s politicians together.
Mr Salmond hailed the former economic chief as a man who led Edinburgh through some of its most turbulent years and one who will be sadly missed.
Issuing a statement from New York, where he is currently anchoring the Tartan Week celebrations, Mr Salmond said “Tom Buchanan was a dedicated and conscientious servant of his city and his country – his contribution as Edinburgh’s economic development convener delivered real and lasting benefits to Scotland’s capital.
“He will be much missed across the political spectrum, and much more widely throughout Edinburgh life.
“Our thoughts are with Tom’s family and friends in their time of sorrow.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to step in during Mr Salmond’s absence to pay respects at the service alongside other key Nationalists.
Cllr Buchanan died on Wednesday aged 55 following a long battle with cancer. He stood down as Edinburgh’s leader of economic development last November to focus on his fight with a brain tumour.
The funeral service will be held on Wednesday at Rosewell Parish Church.
It is understood a scholarship fund for young people may be established in his honour.
Cllr Steve Cardownie, deputy council leader and friend of Mr Buchanan, said a large turnout was expected.
“Tom was held in high esteem across party lines,” he said.
“The presence of Nicola Sturgeon and others is a clear indication of the regard in which he was held throughout the party.
“He was very well liked and for the First Minister to take time to send a statement is very welcome and shows that Tom was well thought of and will hopefully bring some comfort to his wife Evelyn.”
A by-election for Mr Buchanan’s seat in the Liberton/Gilmerton ward will be held within the next three months according to electoral rules.
Cllr Buchanan was elected to the city council in 2007 and was quickly established as one of the leading figures in the coalition formed that year between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP to run the city. He had been tipped as a future leader of the city’s SNP group.
In March 2011, Cllr Buchanan was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent surgery at the Western General.
He stood for re-election two months later despite his illness and was returned comfortably.