Election17: Morton calls for end to political differences

COUNCILLORS SHOULD LAY aside all political differences for the general good of Moray when voters have made their decision on May 4.

That is the view being expressed by Fochabers/Lhanbryde hopeful Sean Morton and he seeks re-election as an Independent following his five years representing the Labour party.

While political parties have issued their own plans for what will be a very challenging time for local democracy, Mr Morton has issued a five-point plan that he believes will “shake up Moray Council so it works better for local people”.

He insists it is time to give power back to local people by ending the traditional cosy practices at the council because “the scale of challenge we face means we need all hands on deck for the future of Moray.”

Councillor Morton said that after five years of representing his community on the council he knows how to deliver results – but also knows the frustrations that local people have with the status quo means they feel decisions are made for and by the political power blocks on the council and not the people.

He said: “It’s time to make the council work for local people, not local people feeling they are battling the council the whole time. From bin collections and broken roads to bus timetables and business development people in Moray want to have their say and know that the council is listening.

“These are challenging times. The scale of the challenge means that we need all hands on deck to fight for a better deal for Moray. The traditional political power blocks on the council don’t work. We need a team of all the talents.

“When I was elected five years ago I walked into the chamber fresh faced and ready for a fight on behalf of local people. If I’m lucky enough to be re-elected in May I’ll be walking in as someone who has won many fights and is ready for the ones ahead. But if I’m honest, too many of those fights are about politics and not the people.

“I don’t want the new council to think small. Anyone with big ideas should be welcome because they can make a difference – but only if we radically change the way the council is run. I want to make it work for my community, my friends and my neighbours. I don’t want to see communities voiceless in the face of bad decisions. I want to give communities the tools they need to stop those bad decisions.

“So many times we rallied as a community to try to get the powers that be to hear local people. This time round, I want those same people to have the power themselves.”

The Morton plan to shake up the Council and build a team of all the talents for Moray:

1. Encourage new councillors to put aside differences and form a rainbow coalition

No one person or political group has all the ideas. If we reach out to each other across political divides we’ll do better for Moray. Now is a time for talented people to talk to each other. We need all hands-on deck to move Moray forward.

2. Give local councillors the power to veto decisions that only affect their area

Margo, Douglas and I have been a strong team for Fochabers Lhanbryde. A team of rivals from three different parties made sure that your voice was heard at the highest levels. But often local councillors can merely show their support for a local cause.

They are too often toothless in the face of a big challenge. I want the council to explore giving each local ward a veto over decisions that only affect their area, to be used when all ward councillors agree to use it and to be used only once. That will mean we can stand up for our ward – but not cause gridlock.

3. Cap Senior Executive and Councillor salaries

If sacrifices must be made, let them be made at the top.

4. Give communities the right to appeal planning decisions

It is wrong that communities like Lhanbryde are powerless in the face of hostile developers who run roughshod over our heritage. This is our community. We should have a greater say over what happens here. The council’s legal department should work with councillors to give local people a right of appeal on planning matters.

5. Give communities more control over the budget, bin collections, street naming and road repairs.

Too many decisions are made by people you’ve never heard of. They are undoubtedly good people doing their best – but these decisions don’t need to be made behind closed doors. Let the people in. Moray will be all the better for it.

Other candidates contesting the Fochabers/Lhanbryde ward are: David Bremner (SNP), Donald Cameron (Scottish Lib Dem), Kenneth Gillespie (Independent), Peter Horton (Scottish Lib Dem), Marc Macrae (Scottish Conservative and Unionist), Shona Morrison (SNP), Ian Taylor (Independent).