Veteran councillor quits after 40 years

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A VETERAN Midlothian councillor has stepped down after almost 40 years representing residents of Mayfield and Easthouses.

Peter Boyes, 68, said he was leaving Midlothian Council – where he was once deputy leader – after suffering a bout of ill-health.

A former soldier and miner, Mr Boyes was an independent councillor, having resigned from the Labour Party last August after more than four decades.

He was first elected to the old Lothian Regional Council in 1978, but said he was calling time on his political career for the sake of his health.

Mr Boyes has ­battled prostate cancer and suffered a “mini-stroke” in recent years, and will now spend more time with wife Mary, daughters Mandy and Angela, and his three granddaughters.

But his time as a councillor was not without controversy. In 2012, he was investigated over claims he made a homophobic remark at a polling station during the council elections.

He was detained and interviewed by police, but was released without charge.

His working life and political role combined – his employment as a miner at Monktonhall Colliery leading to his appointment as a director of the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, set up in 1999 to manage funding to help regenerate former mining communities.

In his resignation letter to Midlothian Council, Mr Boyes said it had been a “privilege and an honour” to serve as a councillor and hoped his legacy would be his work ensuring a new Newbattle High School would be created.

His fall-out with Labour came over clashes with colleagues over the project.

Council chiefs have flocked to pay tribute to the stalwart – who will be replaced after a by-election later this year.

SNP council leader Owen Thompson said: “The experience at a polling station during the local council elections 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.”

Labour councillor Adam Montgomery 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.”

A family friend said: “His mind’s as sharp as ever but his body’s been letting him down.

“He suffered a mini-stroke and he can’t get about like he used to. He wants to spend more time with his family.”