A number of changes to the membership of committees were approved at today’s meeting of East Lothian Council (Tuesday, 23 February).

The changes include Councillor Shamin Akhtar’s appointment to the role of Cabinet Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, replacing Councillor Fiona O’Donnell.

Councillor Akhtar will in turn be replaced as Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services by Councillor Fiona Dugdale.

The full changes are detailed in the report approved at the Council meeting.

Councillor Akhtar said:

“It has been an absolute privilege to have served as Cabinet Spokesperson for Education & Children’s Services for the past eight years. I have had the opportunity to work with many great people such as Lesley Brown, Judith Tait and their staff teams. I know that with them at the helm that East Lothian Council’s Education & Children’s Services will only go from strength to strength.

“This is one of the most challenging times for health and social care. I can see the impact that the work that the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership is already having in bringing more clinical services back to East Lothian, reducing waiting lists, increasing same-day access in primary care, and helping people to return home from hospital earlier, safely and with good support in place.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us looking towards a post-Covid world, and the priority will continue to be ensuring people in East Lothian continue to receive good quality and effective integrated health and social care.

“I look forward to working with Alison Macdonald and her team I want to say how impressed I am with the way that she, her team and health and social care staff across East Lothian have responded, including throughout the pandemic.

“Finally, I would like to thank Fiona O’Donnell. In her role as Cabinet Spokesperson she has focused on ensuring person-centred, accessible services for everyone in East Lothian, which stands us in good stead for the future.

Councillor Fiona Dugdale said:

“I’m very honoured to be taking on the role of Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services and would like to thank Shamin for all her work in the role.

“It’s been a difficult year for our young people. While they’ve demonstrated tremendous resilience during the pandemic, we need to ensure there is a sharp focus on providing the best possible support going forward.

“Helping East Lothian’s children and young people to achieve their fullest potential in life is key to enabling East Lothian to thrive and grow. We need to ensure our children and young people continue to benefit from having the right supports to be successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens in their community. We want our children and young people to live safe, healthier, more active and independent lives. Together, we want to get it right for every child and young person.

“We do have a very strong foundation to build on and I look forward to working with our teams across Education and Children’s Services who share a strong commitment to giving all children and young people the best possible start in life.

“Our aim is to improve the quality of the experiences we provide for children, young people and their families in East Lothian, including working to improve mental health and wellbeing, celebrating achievements, and boosting attainment.”

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell added:

“I am a huge believer in health and social care integration and I can already see that our work has brought significant benefits to people in East Lothian.

“East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP) team has done a really great job during the pandemic, not just keeping things going but being proactive in supporting staff – our own and those in the independent sector. Crucially, they have been able to reconfigure services quickly so that patients and service-users continued to have safe access to the support and services they need.

“I wish Shamin every success in the role as Cabinet Spokesperson.”



Published: Tuesday, 23rd February 2021