Andrew quits

BO'NESS Scottish Nationalists were dealt a second pre-election blow this week when it was revealed Councillor Andrew Graham is quitting local politics on health grounds.

Long-serving councillor Beth Eaglesham has already revealed she intends to retire ahead of the May 3 local

government election.

Now Councillor Graham (42) has told party bosses he, too, is

standing down.

He was the youngest soldier to go to war with the British Army in the Falkland Islands in 1982. At just 17 years old and a member of the 2nd Battalion The Scots Guards, he fought at Mount Tumbledown.

Now, as the country prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that historic victory, Councillor Graham is citing post-traumatic stress disorder for his decision to resign from local government.

Councillor Graham said: "Over the last few years I know that my health has been in decline.

"I am grateful to colleagues who have been supportive and constituents who have been understanding. It has been a pleasure to represent the people of the Whitecross and Kinneil ward and their support has been a much-needed personal boost at a difficult time."

Councillor Graham added: "Equally, it has been an honour to be part of the SNP/Independent administration which has so

radically changed the face of Falkirk district.

''I believe it will go from strength to strength and I will be working behind the scenes to ensure the election of my SNP successor."

Councillor Graham's by-election win in 2001, following the death of sitting councillor Jimmy Milne, paved the way for an SNP-led take-over at Falkirk Council.

The Nats' coalition with Inde-pedent and non-aligned councillors enabled them to snatch power from Labour.

The coalition has held through an election campaign and, while still in its infancy, drew up the "My Future's in Falkirk" strategy which led to the regeneration plans for Bo'ness.

Councillor David Alexander, leader of Falkirk Council, said: "It was Andrew's victory in 2001 that brought about the change of administration.

"Without his success there would be no 'My Future's in Falkirk', no new schools programme and no regeneration of our town centres. His role in the succesful realignment in local politics

cannot be under-estimated.

"Politics is unforgiving and it is an indictment on expections that he feels his health problems can only be addressed out of the

public eye. His problems have also taken their toll on his family and they are in our thoughts at this time."

John Meikle, Bo'ness SNP convener, said: "Beth and Andrew have compelling reasons for standing down. However, we continue to have faith in John and Harry Constable, our candidates for the forthcoming election, and we are also fully supportive of Falkirk East Scottish Parliamentary candidate Annabelle Ewing ."

l Councillor Graham is not taking advantage of the redundancy payment scheme for retiring councillors.

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