The outgoing Leader of Moray Council has been accused of being ‘blinded by power’ in his refusal to listen to public opinion.
That is the view expressed by an opposition leader following a major review of his time as Leader in today’s Press and Journal newspaper by Councillor Allan Wright.
Councillor Wright hit out at the ‘populist agenda’ of the main opposition group while highlighting that savings of over £7million would still have to be made in the next two years.
The new Council Convener looked back on his term as Leader insisting that there was a cooperative spirit that was “the envy of many local authorities”.
In a move that has been severely criticised, Councillor Wright now assumes the post of Convener formerly held by Councillor Stewart Cree, who will take over as Leader.
Pointing to the adoption of the Council Budget in February 2014, Councillor Wright said it was a mark of progress for the local authority as it went through with the full agreement of all member groups.
That came after a series of cross-party workshops led to the formation of the Area Based Review group.
He said: “The biggest achievement was that, within the council, it spawned the cross-party group called the Area-Based Review Group (ABR).
“It was a sign of the cooperative spirit which was the envy of many local authorities.”
However, Councillor Wright pointed the finger at the SNP group for ending that cooperation when they joined with several administration councillors in voting down plans for a sustainable education review in Moray.
He said: “It is a matter of deep regret that the process of cross-party agreement on the best way to progress the sustainable education review was abandoned in favour of a populist agenda by the SNP group and, subsequently, the ABR initiative came to an end.”
Blinded by Power
The leader of the SNP opposition group, Pearl Paul, hit back at the accusation, saying that Councillor Wright had “appeared to have forgotten” that the SNP was not the only party to vote against school closures.
She said: “It must be an inconvenient truth for him to admit that the majority of his own Tory party colleagues, a substantial number of the independent administration including the convener who proposed the motion, and the Labour members all agreed with the SNP’s views.
“The opposition parties, including the SNP, were disappointed when the Tory/Independent administration pulled the plug on the ABR.
“We believed that it had been a successful mechanism which put forward many council efficiencies and savings with little pain to the public, councillors must not be blinded by power to refuse to listen to public opinion.
“Although the SNP does not advocate doing nothing it is fortunate that the council has approximately £17million uncommitted reserves which allows the administration time over the next two years to look for further efficiencies.”