Election17: Local issues come first – Raymond McLean, Elgin City South

All individual candidates or political groups contesting the forthcoming local council elections in Moray are invited to state their case through the pages of our community news site – contact for submissions is editor@insidemoray.news. Here we have views of Raymond McLean, Conservative candidate for Elgin City South.

WHEN CHOOSING HOW to cast your ballot on the May 4, you might have considered favouring an Independent over candidates representing political parties.

However, with the Scottish Conservative and Unionists, you don’t need to choose between a candidate who champions your local priorities and another who more closely represents your national interests – we’re more than capable of fulfilling both roles.

The Scottish Conservative & Unionist party is unashamedly pro-British, believing that Scotland is better off in the union.

But, our party also encourages free thinking and allows elected council members the freedom to vote in a way that’s best for their communities. Here in Moray we have a good example of that. Douglas Ross, now an MSP, often found himself at odds with the council administration in his role as councillor for Fochabers & Lhanbryde.

Would the SNP welcome a member who questioned the message devised and dictated by their leadership? I think not. In the past couple of months, we’ve seen them discount potential council candidates for reasons such as supporting Brexit and opposing the business rates hike.

Very recently, in the wake of that damaging rise in business rates, we had the uncomfortable sight of the Moray council SNP group defending the increases and trying to pass the blame on to the Independent/Conservative administration for not providing relief.

They consistently failed to explain where the money would have come from for such a relief package, with the council having had their block grant from Holyrood cut, running a £7million budget deficit and having to use ever dwindling reserves just to maintain services at the current level.

I was especially incredulous at seeing Richard Lochhead MSP in the press as he tried to look sympathetic to the affected businesses, without in any way alluding to the fact that it was his party which supported the revaluation of rateable values.

The two Conservative councillors currently serving in the Moray administration also embody devotion to their constituents over party loyalty. James Allan, whom I hope to succeed in the Elgin City South ward, is a shining example of a councillor who campaigns on local issues and works tirelessly serving his local residents, never chasing the limelight.

Allan Wright, in his role as Convener has always focused very much on local matters, leaving promoting the Conservative national message to others.

Truthfully, national issues did play a large part in my original decision to join the Conservative party, it was however a desire to improve my community that led me to seek election to the council. Moray is my home. I was born here, raised here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I am as ‘local’ as any of the candidates standing in May and I have as great a stake in securing the best possible deal for ward residents as any of the other candidates. I simply don’t see a contradiction in fighting for local services and fighting to protect the United Kingdom.

Other candidates seeking your vote in Elgin City South are: John Divers (Labour), Graham Leadbitter (SNP), Sean Malone (Independent).