Editorial: Failed again – but hats off to the integrity of Douglas Ross

Sunday Supplement

Our detailed look back on the stories that we have been talking about in Moray…..

Douglas Ross – one-man army against Council officials

I have said often enough that I believe I ‘dodged a bullet’ by failing to be elected to Moray Council when I took what with the benefit of hindsight was a foolhardy decision to run in a by-election held in our region.

What seemed like a natural thing to do at the time was actually a decision taken at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons.

Looking on since at Moray Council meetings and at the unpopular, difficult and, yes, frankly incomprehensible decisions being taken I sometimes wonder if more of those who were successful in their political or community aspirations wish they too had dodged that bullet.

And before anyone asks me again no, I’m not in the slightest bit interested in running again when the good people of Elgin City North make their decision on who will take over from lucky escapee Barry Jarvis.

This week the economic development and infrastructure committee provided another insight into the workings of our local authority – and I would challenge anyone who watched this either in the chamber or on the live video feed to say this left them encouraged over the competence of the local government system.

A thorn in the side of our senior council officers, Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross has never been one to nod his head in deference to those officials, Councillor Ross alluding more than a few times that where the administration of Moray is concerned all too often the tail is wagging the dog.

[box] “A thorn in the side of our senior council officers, Councillor Douglas Ross has never been one to nod his head in deference to those officials.”[/box] In another life Councillor Ross can be seen running the line at Premiership games in Scotland – but it is the flag he waves on behalf of constituents in Moray that is almost unique in the Council chamber.

This time it was over a battle that has raged for several years in which fed-up residents in Kingston have seen a constant stream of political visitors walking the shingle bank that once protected the village from the ravages of the Moray Firth.

Throughout this particular battle Councillor Ross has argued the case with help from fellow Fochabers/Lhanbryde members Sean Morton and Margo Howe – but their voices have fallen on deaf ears as the bulk of the remaining councillors typically accept the word of officials over the will of the people.

Villagers had thought they had finally won a case for common sense when a £1.6million plan to erect a rock barrier between their homes and the sea was first agreed – and then, in June 2013, cruelly rejected when officials managed to convince seven of the 13 committee members that it really was not needed, we just need to wait and see if anyone is actually flooded from their homes.

Prevention the best line of defence? Never it seems in this case, as this week’s attempt by Ross to reintroduce the rock barrier plan was doomed to failure even before he said a word.

A cynic might suggest that Douglas Ross, as a member of the ruling administration, knew full well that his attempt to force the issue would fail and that he did so only to appease his own ward constituents.

That argument does not hold water for me given his track record of swimming against the tide in the Council Chamber on behalf of a myriad of other issues affecting every single voter in Moray and not just his own.

So this week I doff my hat to you, Councillor Ross – had I ever been elected to our local council I like to think I would represent the people of Moray in the same determined and single minded manner. always aiming to remind people that it is not the highly-paid officials who run the show in this democracy of ours.

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