DISTRAUGHT readers seeking escape from political polemic swamping the news in the run-up to next week’s local elections need look no further than here.

Having had 18 years on the stump representing the good citizens of North Berwick, the minutes show that I stuck my oar in the water at every one of the thousand-plus meetings I attended. This is my last column as a duly elected councillor, having had to step down as I am now registered blind.

Looking back, I must confess to seeing my achievements outnumbered by my frustrations; the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I worked no miracles alone. But I did work with many others to achieve: provision of a day centre, esplanade sea defences, youth cafe, Law View affordable housing and museum; plus refurbishment of Lodge Grounds, Hope Rooms, tennis courts, Recreation Park pavilion and Galloways Pier. Even some minor projects like creating boulevard cafes with new trees and period street lighting on Quality Street or rebuilding the East Beach paddling pool really boosted the town’s attractiveness.

I am particularly proud to have been among the creators of the Seabird Centre, the Highland Games, Cinema Club and Fringe by the Sea. And, during my stint as council leader, I restarted major investment in hundreds of council houses, finally brought single status to our 4,500 employees and introduced a package of measures to boost learning in the key early years before age eight.

But there is also much that remains incomplete. Not enough affordable homes, not enough local office space, not enough tourist initiatives remaining priorities for the next council. We should have been cleverer at exploiting developer greed to better plan communities and provide proportional infrastructure. And top of their to-do list should be eradicating differentials among high schools.

But, frustrations aside, I have relished the chance to make a difference for the home town that I love. Having my chest poked just encouraged me because it showed that people cared. Most surprising and touching was how people responded when you did your best but still could not solve their problem. I regret I was not better able to assist them.

But my deepest apologies go to the young. Their interest in what I and the council were up to was non-existent. I do not blame them – pre-30, priorities are different. To them I offer an especially profound apology. Because, while I and my now-former-colleagues will only have a decade or so more to live with the results of our labours, the younger generation will have over half a century or more.

Maybe choose representatives who achieve even more for them than I managed.