Former chief executive of North Ayrshire Council

Former chief executive of North Ayrshire Council

Born: May 30, 1946; Died: August 27, 2014

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Bernard Devine, who has died aged 68, was North Ayrshire Council's first chief executive.

He first moved to the area in 1986 when he was appointed chief executive of the former Cunninghame District Council. He came there from Monklands District Council, where he was director of administration, having started his local government career as a solicitor with Airdrie Burgh.

Mr Devine, who lived in West Kilbride, was the council's most senior officer for 18 years, transferring from the old authority to the new North Ayrshire Council in 1995. It was a challenging period for Scotland's local authorities, which were going through reorganisation for the second time in two decades.

He oversaw a raft of changes that came with the transfer of responsibilities from the old regional councils to the new unitary authorities.

In unsettling times, he confidently led North Ayrshire Council through the reorganisation and into the next millennium. By the time he retired in 2004, he had become one of Scotland's longest serving chief executives.

Colleague at North Ayrshire Council described him as a quiet but caring man. One said: "His door was always open. You could never disturb him. Staff could walk straight into his office and discuss anything that was bothering them. He had a great ability to put people at ease."

Council leader Willie Gibson said: "I know from our longer-serving staff that Bernard was a respected figurehead who was always fair with people."

Labour Group leader, Councillor Peter McNamara, who was elected to Cunninghame District Council in 1988, recalled a gentleman who cared passionately about local government.

"I will never forget the help Bernard gave me, and all new councillors, in those early days," he said. "Bernard was a quiet, unassuming man but he was very diligent in carrying out his duties as chief executive. It was a joy to work with him - and his wife Alice. She was a great supporter of all we did to promote the council."

Councillor David O'Neill, who has been council leader for three consecutive terms since 1999, said he was a true professional.

"He was a good motivator of people who was able to effect a seamless transfer during the changeover in 1995.

Councillor O'Neill, who is president of the Convention Of Scottish Local Authorities, added: "Bernard will be remembered for being the last chief executive of Cunninghame District Council and first chief executive of North Ayrshire Council."

He is survived two sons and a daughter - James, Kenneth and Susan. The family were struck by tragedy some years ago when elder daughter Anne died suddenly at the age of 29. His wife Alice died in 2006.