Ruling administration councillors are facing a public backlash over their decision to sack one of their key committee chairmen.
Social media pages came alive with chat over the shock move to sack Tory councillor Douglas Ross from the ruling administration group following his leading role in halting closure plans for several schools in Moray.
Councillor Ross, who chairs the planning and regulatory services committee, learned of his sacking while in Spain where he was an assistant referee at a Europa League match between Sevilla and Standard Liege.
His Tory/Independent administration group colleagues took the decision to sack Ross because they say he had been acting “outwith the administration”.
As well as opposing the closure of Milne’s High and other rural schools in Moray, Councillor Ross has voiced his opposition to administration group plans such as the creation of a west approach road in Elgin – a matter that is to be discussed at a special meeting of the committee he chairs on Wednesday.
It looks likely that Councillor Ross may still chair several meetings of the committee scheduled for this week as his dismissal from that role would required a meeting of the Full Council.
One of the first to condemn the decision on insideMoray’s Facebook page last night was Marc McCrae, himself a former candidate for Moray Council at the Buckie by-election earlier this year.
Mr McCrae said: “This is disgraceful behaviour from the Council, given that Cllr Ross represents his constituents and speaks on their behalf, not a hidden agenda of his own as is apparent from other so called independent councillors.
“If he is to be punished for standing up for those he was elected to represent what of the other administration councillors who also voted against the education plans, surely they must be punished also!”
Call for change
Another comment from Andrew Usher called for the resignation of the Council Convener, Stewart Cree.
He said: “Since the web cast (of Monday’s meeting) I have been appalled at the lack of professionalism with the council, and their ethics are seriously in doubt.
“Time for a change I think, Councillor Cree needs to step down – his behaviour has been appalling. I think they forget many people watched the web cast and saw the whole thing in its disgraceful form.”
Paul Donaldson, who as a member of the SNP group at Councillor Ross’ Fochabers/Lhanbryde ward, said: “I don’t often agree with his party, but one thing I know is Douglas Ross always works very hard and does what he sees as the right thing for his area and the people he represents.
“In the case of voting to save Milne’s and other schools, he definitely has done the right thing, regardless if this meant he had to vote against the other administration councillors.
“Even though he has lost his position in the council, if this was one of the main reasons for this happening he can hold his head high knowing he did the right thing and would have the support and respect from the community – and also from his opponents in other parties.
“This is a very sad decision that Moray Council have made, how on earth do they move on from all of this mess they are in just now?”
Last night Councillor Ross told the Press and Journal newspaper: “I can only assume it is related to the schools vote, which is incredible given that the convener voted for the same motion.
“I actually voted for the convener’s motion and then a couple of days later he wrote to say I was going to be sacked.”