Campaigners present 1100-name SNP petition against Tax rise

Campaigner Jo-Ann DeSykes with the petition presented on Wednesday

AN SNP LED campaign against plans to raise Council Tax by 18% in Moray has presented a petition signed by 1100 people to Moray Council.

Led by Moray’s MP, MSP and the Councillors from the main SNP opposition group at the local authority, the signatures were gathered during Scottish Election campaigning in Elgin High Street and at doors around Moray.

The petition was presented by campaign representatives Jo-Ann DeSykes and James O’Connor, with Ms De Sykes saying: “People were queueing up on Elgin High Street to sign the petition and it has been just as easy getting support round the doors and online.  Over a thousand signatures in just a week clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling on the issue.

“Residents across Moray have been stunned by the proposal for an 18% rise by the Tory/Independent Council Administration and believe that the Council’s Administration have not done enough to identify savings elsewhere.

“The Council Tax Freeze has given people welcome relief at a difficult financial time saving the average household over £1,500 in tax, supported by hundreds of millions in funding to Councils to keep it in place.”

The leader of the SNP Opposition, Councillor Gary Coull, gave an assurance that his group would be presenting “alternatives” to saving the £11million required ahead of the crucial Full Council meeting next month that will decide the budget for the next year.

Councillor Coull said: “The SNP Opposition Councillors are absolutely clear that we will not be backing a Council Tax rise.  We are continuing to work towards alternative proposals ahead of the budget meeting in February and we have several meetings to consider a range of options ahead of that.

“This week Edinburgh City Council has managed to set a budget without a Council Tax Rise and you have to ask if Moray Council’s Tory/Independent Administration are so bereft of ideas having had months to prepare that this all they can come up with.

“This is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction from Tories and Independents while there are still negotiations going on between the Scottish Government and councils. Instead they seem intent on getting Moray headlines for all the wrong reasons.

“From our own work on the budget we believe there are alternatives and we will make them clear ahead of the Council’s budget day.”

However, the leader of Moray Council, Stewart Cree, criticised the opposition group for the way in which they delivered the petition, after he was given just two hours notice of the intention to deliver it to the local authority.  He said: “I do not regard that as fair notice as I was in an important meeting which did not conclude in sufficient time to go along.

“I did not think it fair to ask a leader of a council to attend something like that at the drop of a hat – it is not the way I expect to be treated by anybody.”

Look out later this week on insideMoray for the views of Councillor Coull on the Moray Council budget row.