Obituary: Bob Scott, former provost, Perth and Kinross Council

Born: 21 May, 1942, in Stanley. Died: 17 October, 2013, aged 71

Bob Scott: Civic leader who met with royalty and the US President while serving his community
Bob Scott: Civic leader who met with royalty and the US President while serving his community

Bob Scott was born in Stanley and brought up in the village where his father worked in the famous Stanley Mills. Bob later moved to Luncarty and lived there for the rest of his life. A large part of his working life was spent in the RAC, where he rose through the ranks from patrolman to superintendant with responsibility for the North of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands. During this time Bob made a wide variety of friends and acquaintances.

In the 1990s his career path changed and he entered politics. A dedicated Liberal and Liberal Democrat, Bob was successfully elected to Perth and Kinross District Council in 1991 for the Almond Valley ward which included Luncarty, his home village, and Methven. Bob was also successful in being elected to Tayside Regional Council at a by-election held in April 1993.

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The ward he represented covered a very large area from Methven to Dunkeld. When the elections were held for the new unitary council in 1995, Bob successfully won the Strathord and Logiealmond ward where he was re-elected until his retirement in 2007.

Bob served as the convener of the Perth and Kinross Council’s roads and transport committee from 1998 to 2002, a role which he relished. He had a very “hands-on” approach to the convenership and could be found doing duties with the snow plough crews in mid-winter at Drumochter and acting as the co-driver for a ScotRail train between Perth and Inverness. He also championed the flood prevention scheme which was introduced to Perth during that period.

Following the 2002 council elections, Bob was unanimously elected as the first Scottish Liberal Democrat provost of Perth and Kinross. He served in that role until 2007. Bob distinguished himself during that period in many ways including meeting all the senior members of the Royal Family and acting as civic head, hosting the G8 Conference at Gleneagles Hotel in 2005.

In 2007 Bob was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for Perth and Kinross and latterly held the post of president of Perth Civic Trust; he was also vice chairman of the local branch of the National Trust for Scotland. Bob was a Friend of the Far North Rail Line and an officer of St John Scotland. He was an active member of the Order and took part in their work throughout Scotland.

His interest in maps led him to become a volunteer with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, both as a guide at their premises within the Fair Maid’s House in Perth and he also assisted with the refurbishing and cataloguing the map collection in their archive. He was also a life member of the Friends of Perth and Kinross Archive.

He had a lifelong fascination with lighthouses and following his retirement from the council, took up pharology, the science of lighthouses. Both in Scotland and abroad, he rapidly gained an encyclopaedic knowledge of many lighthouses, having visited every one in Britain and further afield, and was a popular lecturer on the subject. In addition, he was a much sought after speaker, reflecting his life in local government.

Bob was an elder for his local church at Redgorton and Stanley for more than 20 years and undertook the duties of presbytery elder for more than ten years.

Following his death, tributes flowed. Bob’s younger sister, Anne Stewart, spoke of his sense of honour and privilege in him being the civic head of Perth and Kinross Council. She said she had been very close to her much loved brother. Anne served in the role of lady provost during Bob’s term of office.

The current Provost of Perth and Kinross, Elizabeth Grant, paid a warm tribute to her predecessor, saying: “During his term, as well as laying the groundwork for Perth achieving city status, Provost Scott was an impeccable ambassador for Perth and Kinross. It was Bob who welcomed world leaders such as George Bush to Scotland at Prestwick Airport ahead of the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005.

“Everyone at the council was extremely saddened to hear the news that Bob had passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. Bob was an extremely dedicated and hardworking councillor and then provost for the area.”

Councillor Peter Barrett, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader on Perth and Kinross Council, added his thoughts about his friend and former colleague.

He said: “One of many accolades paid to Bob was that he was a true gentleman and that sums him up entirely. He was kind and generous and a committed to Liberal ideals but with both feet firmly planted on the ground. He was a great counsel; a calming influence but also a committed and effective politician on the pavement in this community and in council committees.

“Bob was highly respected across the political spectrum. As a sole nominee for the civic leader’s post, he was unanimously elected as the first Scottish Liberal provost of Perth and Kinross by councillors from all parties. The front page newspaper report of that occasion is still pinned to our office wall in the council.”

Bob Scott was far more than a political colleague. He was one of my closest personal friends and a great friend of all of the family. We will miss him terribly.

He was great fun to work with and we spent a lot of time arguing on the one hand and setting the world to rights on the other and I never doubted his judgment or his sincerity. He was extremely hard working, but campaigning with him had its frustrations. Bob knew everybody and would spend ages talking to one individual.

I famously on one occasion canvassed two dozen houses while he was in one. When he emerged from the house he was fairly apologetic and admitted shortly afterwards that he’d had a cup of tea and two scones while I had been busy on the doorsteps.

The many organisations which he belonged to, particularly the kirk and his local community, will miss him a great deal. Our lives are the richer for knowing him and the poorer for his passing.