NORTH Ayrshire Council chief executive Elma Murray has said she is surprised and honoured to be recognised in the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours List.

Elma is to receive an OBE for services to local government, education and the economy.

It is understood the award recognises Elma’s pioneering work in transforming Scottish local government economic development services as well as her continuing commitment to ensure young people get the best possible start in life.

Elma said: “This is not something I had ever thought about but it concludes an amazing year for North Ayrshire Council.

“Our Council teams have all been recognised in a variety of ways during 2017 for their sector-leading approaches to transforming how they work and deliver services. I am very fortunate to be able to work with such fantastic staff and my award is as much for them as it is for me.”

Elma has spent almost 35 years in public service, starting out at Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde Police before being appointed Head of IT Services at North Ayrshire Council in 1995.

She went on to become Head of Organisational Change, Depute Director of Finance and Head of eGovernment at Glasgow City Council before returning to North Ayrshire as Chief Executive in September 2009. Since then, she has led a programme of transformational change at the Council. The results of this ongoing programme were seen in September 2017 when North Ayrshire Council was named APSE’s UK Council of the Year. Elma has been a passionate proponent for empowering young people and maximising their attainment and achievement.

She works closely with the area’s MSYPs and actively encourages and supports North Ayrshire’s Youth Council Executive Committee which gives young people the opportunity to have their voices heard on issues that affect them in their communities.

Under her leadership, the council has also made a commitment to the young people of North Ayrshire by providing 250 Modern Apprenticeships for local youngsters over three years.

Elma’s work to empower young people also extends to being the chair of Young Scot, Scotland’s youth information and citizenship charity, and a member of both the Wood Commission National Advisory Group and the Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce Group.

Elma served as chair of SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) from 2012 to 2013 and helped introduce how Scotland’s 32 local authorities compare their performance.