Freedom honour for former MP

FORMER MP and MSP Andrew Welsh has joined a select group of people who have been given the highest honour in Angus - the freedom of the county.

The decision to confer the award was taken last week at the full meeting of Angus Council.

Mr Welsh, who was born in Glasgow, served Angus as SNP MP for 19 years and as MSP for 12 years. Prior to his political career he worked in banking and as a teacher and college lecturer. He was elected as MP for South Angus in 1974 but lost his seat in 1979. He became a district councillor in 1984 and was appointed chairman, which was changed to Provost.

In 1987 he was elected as an MP for East Angus and defended the seat successfully in 1992. He was re-elected in 1997 to the newly named Angus constituency. He did not stand for re-election to Westminster in 2001 but was already MSP for Angus from the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 until he retired last year.

The nomination for the award was put forward by Arbroath SNP councillor Alex King, who said Mr Welsh was “synonymous with parliamentary representation of the Angus people.”

He commented: “During his time at both Westminster and Holyrood, Andrew has always been a good friend of local government, being the SNP spokesperson on local government, housing and education matters in both parliaments.

“No other Member of Parliament has given the years of service to the people of Angus that Andrew Welsh has.”

Mr Welsh said he was delighted with the honour, which had come as “a complete surprise.”

He said: “I feel very privileged to be awarded this, It’s quite humbling, actually.

“I loved my time on Angus Council as Provost and would like to thank those who have given me this honour.

“At the time we had the lowest rates of council tax in the country yet the highest level of services and I think that’s what good government is all about.”

He added that the upgrading to dual carriageway standard of the A92 Arbroath to Dundee road was one of his greatest achievements during his term in office.

He said: “I remember knocking on doors in the village of Muirdrum and I realised I couldn’t get across the road because the traffic flow was so heavy. Not only were there traffic problems, but also a good number of fatalities on the road at that time.”

The last individual to receive the Freedom of Angus was former Montrose councillor George Norrie, who was made an honorary freeman of the county in 2007 when he stepped down after more than 40 years in local government. The council agreed unanimously to the nomination due to Mr Norrie’s dedication to public service and in particular to the residents of Montrose.

The crew of HMS Montrose was also granted the freedom of the county in 2002. A year later it was conferred on 45 Commando and on The Black Watch in 2006.