A Moray Labour councillor has defended the position his party adopted in supporting the independent administration budget at a meeting of the full Moray Council last week.
Labour councillors supported the adoption of what was described as a “light touch” budget – and helped to defeat an opposition amendment that would have sought to immediately restore Principal Teacher posts in Moray.
That decision came at a time when the local authority had signalled serious issues in teacher recruitment that could, they warned, ultimately lead to schools having to be closed due to a shortage of staff.
In our editorial on Sunday, insideMoray’s editor criticised the move by Moray Labour, suggesting that it had more to do with prior agreements ahead of the budget debate in the Council Chamber than a genuine desire to act on the teacher recruitment crisis.
In a statement released on Monday, Councillor Sean Morton hit back at this suggestion – while admitting that talks had indeed taken place and administration support was sought on another issue.
He said: “We did of course talk to other councillors about the budget. We can’t all hide out in our respective rooms and not talk to people we sometimes disagree with.
“For us, it was clear this budget was the best we were going to get given the strangling of local government by the Scottish Government. And we knew that we were already making progress on the issue of Principal Teachers – the SNP plan wouldn’t have brought them back any earlier.
“But one area where I did seek the support of other councillors was for my amendment to the budget – which was accepted.
“It seemed to go unnoticed by other political parties that a recent change in council policy had resulted in us charging the learning disabled and those with mental ill health for their support and care packages.
“That was beyond the pale for Moray Labour so we got the agreement of the council to review this at the next Full Council – with all the facts in front of us.
“I’m happy that Labour crossed party lines to get that deal for Moray’s most vulnerable.”