Jul 8 2011 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THE future of three key council projects is in the balance – after a top official revealed he is taking early retirement.
Community development chief, Roddy Macdonald, has stunned bosses at South Ayrshire by choosing to go.
His move has sparked panic among councillors, who insist crucial plans could suffer without him.
Mr Macdonald, 55, was leading the council’s efforts to re-open the Gaiety Theatre when he gave notice last week.
And he was also playing a pivotal role in the bid to regenerate Girvan’s leisure facilities.
Now those and many other projects have been hit by the sudden departure of the respected council figure.
Councillor Ann Galbraith confessed: “I’m horrified that we are losing such a greatofficer.
“Everything Roddy tackled was making progress and it’s mortifying that we must now do without him.
“This was an officer at the very top of his game and I’m very taken aback at how suddenly this has happened.
“The council must find someone to replace him, but these will be big shoes to fill and I’m utterly dismayed at his departure.”
But some council insiders say Mr Macdonald’s job may not be filled.
And they believe current council management staff will be asked to pitch in and provide cover.
A source said: “If that’s the case, you’ve got to start fearing for the projects which he was driving forward.
“When you look around this council, there’s not another Roddy Macdonald in stock. Nobody is capable of doing the job he was doing – especially when so many of them involved critical projects for this council.
“He really should be replaced at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Mr Macdonald was also spearheading the Maybole Pathfinder project, which is aiming to put the community in control of its own leisure services.
But he was no stranger to controversy, having seen his name attached to many of the council’s spiciestissues.
And he infamously attracted criticism when jetting to Broadway for a theatre study during his work on the Gaiety project.
Councillor Tom Slider revealed: “Roddy has been carrying the council’s three main problems on his back for some time now.
“It’s a bit worrying for us that he’s going when he was considered to be doing a good job on very tough projects.”
And councillor Peter Convery added: “I’m absolutely stunned by the news.
“Roddy was involved in so many projects which are ultra-sensitive to the council and there’s no doubt he will be a huge loss.”
The council’s group leaders combined to praise Mr Macdonald when news of his retirement was made official.
Council leader Bill McIntosh said: “The contribution Roddy has made to the council is something that will stay with us for a very long time and, on behalf of the entire council, I want to thank him for all he has done.
“Roddy has been the driving force in progressing some of the biggest projects the council has ever been involved in such as our education PPP programme and, more recently, the Gaiety and South Carrick regeneration and I applaud his efforts and contribution.
“His input will help create lasting legacies for our communities and I wish him all the very best for the future.”
Council chief executive, David Anderson, added: “Arrangements to cover the post of head of community development are currently being made.”