RICHARD LOCHHEAD INSISTED that his constituency remains firmly behind the SNP – despite inroads at the election last week which saw two additional MSP’s from Moray step into the frame.
New Tory MSP Douglas Ross told insideMoray on Friday that the pressure was now very much on the SNP cabinet secretary, who saw his 11,000 majority slashed by 8000 votes at Thursday’s poll.
Such was the surprise swing in the direction of the Scottish Conservative Party, Moray now boasts two Tory’s in the ranks of the newly crowned main opposition group, as Ross is joined at Holyrood by Edward Mountain, who farms just ten miles south of Elgin and was elected as No.3 on the Highlands and Islands regional constituency.
That prompted Douglas Ross to insist that the SNP could no longer claim Moray as their stronghold, saying that the region was now a marginal seat and very much a target at the next election.
However, Mr Lochhead, while accepting that these were “changed days”, said his mandate was from the people of Moray alone. He said: “These are now changed days having three MSPs in Moray.
“While the two Conservatives will have responsibilities across the Highlands and Islands, I have a mandate from the people of Moray alone. I am proud of my track record that has been delivered in Moray in terms of investment and working together to improve the quality of services for local communities.”
The re-elected MSP has already stepped forward to renew his interest in the row over lost business for shopkeepers in Aberlour, who have suffered over the last year from road repairs that were only supposed to affect them for a few months.
Resurfacing work on the A95 through the town have finally been removed – but Mr Lochhead has revealed he is in the process of arranging a meeting with Scottish Water to discuss help they might make available to the hard-pressed business owners.
He said: “I have spoken to many shops over the last few weeks and there is no doubt the roadworks have taken their toll financially over the last year or so. I am now in the middle of setting up a meeting with the chief executive of Scottish Water to discuss what help might be available for businesses.
“I have also spoken to representatives of the business community and have agreed to meet to work out options for any compensation, even at this late stage. At least the summer season is being kept clear – the road will be open for business and hopefully that will deliver benefits for small business.”