CONSERVATIVE COUNCILLORS HAVE jointly signed a letter to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP calling on the Scottish Government to improve its financial support for Moray Council.
The group has condemned years of poor financial settlements from the SNP-led Scottish Government which has led to the Council cutting key services and drawing on its reserves.
However, in an immediate response the SNP opposition group have said that the pressure should be put on the Westminster UK Government.
Conservative Group Leader, Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie ward), said: “All but one of us was newly elected in this year’s election and we have been shocked to learn how badly Moray has been treated over recent years.
“We are now facing having to make terrible decisions on funding if we are to meet our legal requirement to set a budget. None of us sought office in order to preside over cuts of this magnitude.”
Councillor Eagle added that the councillors who form Moray’s Administration are working together to prioritise which services should be protected.
The Convenor of Moray Council, Councillor James Allan, added: “Tim and I are doing our best to take the Council forward – but it is incredibly difficult to do so in these circumstances.
“The council officers are doing a great job and we are working as a team on behalf of the people of Moray but we now need help from Holyrood. The finances of the Council are entirely dependent on the block grant we receive from Holyrood.
“The Scottish Government, through the Barnett Formula, receives £1400 more per head of population to spend than south of the border, but that money simply does not reach us in Moray.”
Backing up Cllr Eagle and Cllr Allan’s concerns, Cllr Marc Macrae (Fochabers Lhanbryde ward) said: “The SNP at Holyrood spends the cash on its own political priorities and they evidently do not include lifeline public services in Moray.
“It would be good to see the local SNP – their councillors and Richard Lochhead MSP – join us to campaign for a better deal for the people we represent.”
SNP hit back at ‘ludicrous’ letter
Moray SNP Councillors by saying the Tory party has continued with cuts to Scotland’s budget and have actively campaigned to reduce taxation income in Scotland.
Co-leader of the SNP Group, Councillor Shona Morrison, said: “This ludicrous letter from the Moray Conservative Council Group is nothing more than a tactic to take the spotlight away from their own incompetence.
“What we have is a group of 9 Conservatives in Moray complaining about a lack of funding that starts with their own Conservative Government in Westminster. In the Scottish Parliament we have Conservatives complaining of lack of funding for the NHS, lack of funding for Local Government and lack of funding for a host of other services, yet they are the very same Conservatives who want to cut taxes and reduce the budget still further.
“You can’t call for more money while at the same time calling for tax cuts and pushing austerity budgeting. This is bonkers economics from a group of councillors who have not published their own priorities.
Co-leader Councillor Graham Leadbitter added: “In Moray this same group of Tories has now been in power as part of the Council Administration for six months but they have yet to publish a set of priorities or put forward any serious budget plans.
“The SNP made it clear that there are significant management restructuring savings to be made in the Council and that has been confirmed as achievable in our own discussions with senior council officers.
“We have also been calling for years for the Council to do much more to generate income and there is still a substantial amount that can be achieved by doing that.
“Instead of casting blame around perhaps the Moray Conservatives should take some responsibility and actually tell the people of Moray what their policies are now that they have had six months to come up with some or do we need to wait even longer?”