On the morning of Friday 28 October we learned of the death of Councillor Jim Buchanan, following a short illness.
Having first served as a Councillor for Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Council, from 1984-1992, Councillor Buchanan was then elected to East Ayrshire Council in 2007 and served as an elected member for Ward 4 (Kilmarnock East and Hurlford). He cared deeply about his local community and as the Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, he was committed to improving and sustaining communities across East Ayrshire, through regeneration and economic growth.
His enthusiasm and passion for regeneration was driven by the belief that regeneration is not just about buildings, it restores pride, provides jobs, opportunities, homes and business premises and ultimately gives people a positive future. The legacy of his belief can be seen in myriad projects, including the Opera House, Johnnie Walker Bond, Kilmarnock Station Clock, Cumnock’s Townhead Street shops, the upgrade of Bank Street, the Buck’s Head in Galston and countless others which came to fruition thanks to his drive and work with the Council’s regeneration team.
He also loved to meet and talk with young people embarking on apprenticeships with local businesses. He could see the benefits of investing in training and delighted in seeing companies grow with the help of the Council’s Economic Development team.
He worked tirelessly to encourage others to engage with the support available and was a great support to the teams he worked with. He was always helpful, cheerful and willing to help publicise the work of the Council to maximise uptake of grants, training and funding.
Councillor Buchanan always took time to recognise the achievements of our communities and he could not have been more proud of Kilmarnock being awarded the title of Scotland’s Most Improved Town.
He was enormously well liked and respected by his fellow elected members and council officers, as well as local businesses and community organisations.
Council Leader, Douglas Reid, said: “Jim cared passionately about his community and took on the task of regeneration with relish and great enthusiasm. There are a number of regeneration projects across East Ayrshire, but particularly more notable in Kilmarnock, where Jim played a key role in making things happen. His determination and ability to engage with people, and his forceful negotiation skills were a key driving force which led to Kilmarnock being recognised as the most improved town less than a year ago.
“For me, he was a good person to have by my side for the past 9 years, and I am thankful for all his support. Jim had great charm in swathes, and cared a great deal for those who were excluded or disadvantaged, and was a great champion for all those he represented, working closely with his great friend and colleague, John Campbell.
“There is so much that can be said about the impact and influence of Councillor Jim Buchanan, his legacy is there for all to see around Kilmarnock Town Centre and other communities. But, his greatest influence of all is the warmth and generosity of his spirit that all around him benefited from.”
Councillor Tom Cook, Depute Leader of the Council and Leader of Conservative Group said: “During his time as a Councillor Jim always had the community at the heart of everything he did. We both became Councillors at the same time and despite having different political views there was a mutual respect between us.
“The enthusiasm and drive he showed to improve Kilmarnock town centre has to be admired and the changes he initiated to the landscape of the town will be a lasting legacy to his time as a Councillor.”
Councillor Maureen McKay, Leader of Labour Group said: “The Labour Group was all shocked and saddened to receive the news of Jim’s death. We all knew that Jim was committed to his politics, his party and the people of East Ayrshire. His passion was always apparent, he was prepared to go the extra mile and was a big personality in our Council.
“After such a short illness it is always hard to believe that a colleague is not with us, he will be missed and leaves behind him much to be remembered and be proud of.
Our thoughts and prayers are offered to his wife, family and his party colleagues at this saddest of times.”
Depute Provost, John Campbell, said: “Jim was a friend of long standing but we became especially close when we became Councillors for ward 4. He will be missed by many, especially colleagues and officers of East Ayrshire Council.
“A vastly experienced Councillor, he always put that knowledge to good use, but his particular passion was town centre regeneration and his drive and enthusiasm will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace”.
Jim made his career in the printing industry. He is survived by his wife Jan, daughter Ainsley, step daughter Lyndsay, three grandchildren and one step grandchild.