EDINBURGH’S education leader has become the latest senior councillor to announce he is to quit the City Chambers.
Councillor Paul Godzik said he would not be standing in next year’s elections – and would leave his post as education convener at the end of the month.
His decision comes after a string of high-profile Labour figures announced they would be stepping down, including former Lord Provosts Lesley Hinds and Eric Milligan and council leader Andrew Burns.
Together, they have more than 100 years’ experience, and currently occupy some of the city’s top positions.
Cllr Godzik said he resolved to quit after recently moving out of Edinburgh with his family, and not because of Labour’s ongoing troubles – or the council’s bleak finances.
He said: “It’s a huge privilege to have served on the council, but given my personal situation it’s the right time to stand down. Over the last four or five years as convener I think we have done a huge amount in terms of improving education. There’s no doubt that in terms of the school estate, for example, we have made huge progress.”
But he added: “There’s no doubt local government in Scotland has been under a huge amount of pressure, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.
“It’s quite clear that the pressure on budgets has been – it seems like relentless, never-ending. The council can’t keep doing what it does in the same manner with budgets reduced year after year. There will have to be some sort of change.”
Despite the cash constraints, however, he said he would “encourage anyone that loves their community and loves their city” to put themselves forward for next year’s election.
Council leader Andrew Burns yesterday paid tribute to his party colleague.
He told the News: “I was very sorry when Paul informed me he wasn’t intending to stand again as a councillor next year, and wanted to step down as convener. The role of convener of education means ultimately being in charge of the council’s largest budget, and its most complex department.
“But at its core, the job has one imperative goal, and that’s to ensure our next generation are effectively prepared for the life ahead of them. Paul has unquestionably succeeded in that goal. That’s a record to be very proud of.”
Cllr Godzik was elected in 2007, and before that worked for MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. He has been professionally involved in politics since 1999.
He said one of his best memories was the “really positive” campaign the Labour group ran in the run up to the 2012 elections.
He will stand down as education convener on October 26 – on the same day that new sports and performance blocks are opened at James Gillespie’s High School.