Editorial: Crunch time for Moray is just down the road

Sunday Supplement

The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week …..

Crunch time is fast approaching – more of the same, or change?

I found it interesting to note this week that a PR fight back appears to have been launched by Moray Council – and notably one that has not been led by the soon to be Convener.

Under-fire councillor Allan Wright has, perhaps wisely, taken a more back seat role as senior members of the council administration sought to justify their determination to resurrect the controversial west approach road in Elgin.

A challenge has been laid by the outgoing Convener and soon to be Leader, Stewart Cree, that those in opposition to the road plans either put up (with alternative plans) or shut up.

One of the leading campaigners against the plans provided an immediate answer, Moray Greens leader James MacKessack-Leitch pointed the Convener to a report in March that, indeed, provided one such alternative plan.

That scenario provided the basic requirement for an approach to the new High School and housing, at a cost of just £2.7million – somewhere south by around £1million of the cash already spent by the local authority on their full approach road plans.

Mr MacKessack-Leitch made the very valid point: “There’s still no case for the rail crossing – particularly in the light of the forthcoming de facto bypass provided by the dualled A96, which will provide an additional crossing, if not two – and take more than quarter of traffic out of Elgin.”

No Confidence?

It is against this backdrop the Full Council meeting on December 17 is fast becoming the most important event at the Council Chamber in living memory.

As well as the roads issue we have a vote of no confidence in Councillor Wright – a vote that regardless if it goes ahead or not or is successful or not is simply the wrong action to take.

Not for the first time the SNP group, famed for their own slick PR machine, appear to be missing the point.

Yes, the public are fed up with a council leader that appeared more determined to defy and indeed rubbish their views on how Moray should be run. But what the public are more fed up with is the entire party political system that is frankly fast making Moray a laughing stock.

I’m with Councillor Douglas Ross on this one. The vote of no confidence is misdirected at one person and even if successful would bring no lasting changes on the way that Moray is being run.

I have called on this page often enough for a brave new approach in Moray, one where elected representatives cast aside their political affiliations or personal prejudices (and in this I not only include but single out ‘independent’ members).

Councillor Ross is calling for a ‘rainbow alliance’, the end to an ‘administration’ and creation of an authority that is organised by individual ability and the needs of Moray.

Not for the first time – and even taking account that Councillor Ross can be accused of preparing for his own big election date next year – he is correct, that is the sensible way forward for Moray.

Public Voice

I note the tiny rumblings of a public protest outside Moray Council’s HQ on the day of the crunch Full Council meeting.

This has been suggested by Celia Smith on the ‘Battle for Bogton’ Facebook page.

In my mind it has always been the case that this type of event will only make a difference if enough people take the trouble to turn out and make their feelings known.

I would hope that given the shenanigans we have all witnessed in the Council chamber in recent months people now realise the importance of December 17 – and do not allow it to pass without their voice being loudly and emphatically heard.

And finally…..

A by-election will be held this week for Elgin City North.

Alas, insideMoray will not be at the count in Elgin Town Hall to report from the event. The PR office at Moray Council continues to block insideMoray on the grounds that we will not ‘play the game’ with them, so we have not even bothered to request a slot at the count.

Not receiving official press releases directly from our local authority has not really hurt our ability to report on the issues affecting Moray – perhaps even quite the opposite.

However, it does still rankle that Moray’s leading independent news facility continues to be ignored by the Council’s PR officer for what remain in my mind petty and wholly unacceptable reasons.

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