Dear Mr Crowther,
It is not my usual practice to write to the media, but on this occasion, I felt that I ought to make an exception in order to say how much I enjoy reading the insideMoray and particularly the comments from the public, on the insideMoray Facebook page.
It does amaze me how many people are prepared to commit their opinions to print even when they are so clearly lacking in the necessary facts. Your efforts to state the facts and correct misconceptions are surely admirable, to say the least. However, there was one recent contribution, from the leader of the SNP group in the Moray Council, which cannot be left to go uncorrected.
Councillor Coull’s response to the piece by Councillor Cowe, contained the inevitable SNP blurb, where only the statistics which suit the party line are chosen for publication. This is perfectly understandable, if you are a party member then your allegiance is to the party first and the people second, but council accountants throughout Scotland would be amazed by this statement from Councillor Coull:
“While in Scotland local government’s funding has been like for like between 2012 and 2016 councils in England have seen their budgets reduced by 25%.”
This statement takes no account of inflation, neither does it take account of the extra burdens placed on local government by central government during that time. Still, one “porky” from a party politician might be forgiven, but Councillor Coull continues to be a bit frugal with the truth when he states:
“I can state right here and right now that the SNP group have always been willing to work on this budget with the administration.”
Well, I can state anywhere and at any time that the invitation from the leader of the council to the leader of the SNP group in May 2015, to work together on scrutinising budgets, was refused in an email from Councillor Paul on the 3rd June that year.
The administration councillors have been working with officers since before the summer break, in order to find ways of avoiding any more cuts to services in Moray and it is with regret that I can state that none of the group leaders chose to allow their members to join us (to her credit, one member did rebel against the party line). Finally, one more quote from Councillor Coull’s piece:
“We need to be smarter in our delivery and more efficient in our spending.”
My reaction to this can only be “Aye, right”! Fine words come easy but it is only due to the hard work of the administration group that the people of Moray have been defended from the savage cuts in services which we are about to witness in other parts of the country.
Will the administration group be able to sustain this in the face of Mr Swinney’s bullying tactics? I do not know but I certainly hope so, for the sake of all our service users in Moray.
Councillor George Alexander