CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS IN Moray have responded to comments made by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead in the Scottish Parliament this week.
Commenting on the Audit Scotland report on the issues facing councils – and in particular to three, including Moray, who the report identifies as candidates for bankruptcy if the current level of funding is not improved, Mr Lochhead called on the Finance Minister to ask Moray Council why they are the only one saying they are at risk of bankruptcy.
Earlier today the Conservative group leader at Moray Council, Councillor Tim Eagle, hit back, saying: “I almost can’t believe what Richard Lochhead said.
“I have said time and time again that Moray Council is facing a financial crisis due to repeated cuts by the Scottish Government in our Budget Settlement over many years. This is not to frustrate the public – it is to make sure we put information in the public domain so they understand the position the Council is in.
“I don’t want to argue who is to blame, I want everyone in Moray is get on with finding the best way forward and together find way of attaining our priorities and keeping services operational.
“However, our own MSP, instead of joining us to urge a better settlement, attacks the Council leader for speaking the truth. Why would you not just recognise the difficulties a small local authority like Moray is having and help us find a solution.
“Mr Lochhead has been the MSP for Moray for ten years during which time the Scottish Government has been run by the SNP. Why has he not used his undoubted influence to help the council instead of attacking it?
“Why is he not listening to the views of local people concerned about local services and why has he allowed funding to be poured into the Central Belt while Moray has been starved of resources?
“Moray is a rural area with unique challenges – but we get no help with that. We need an MSP who is willing to work with the Council, not against it, to ensure the services for the future.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross has also called on the area’s MSP to honour his pledge to the people of Moray – by supporting them during a time of financial crisis rather than taking sides with his party at Holyrood.
Mr Ross said: “Richard Lochhead accused the council leader George Alexander of causing alarm by saying that Moray Council is nearly bankrupt, incorrectly stating that Moray’s local authority, the constituency he represents, were the only one in Scotland declaring themselves as nearly bankrupt when just this week, two other councils, Clackmannanshire and North Ayrshire both said they were in an equally precarious position.
“During the ten years that I served as a Moray Councillor, the administration called on the Scottish Government to give them a better settlement to save local services, but those pleas fell on stony ground.
“Now we have a situation where the council leader has spoken out, as one of three local authorities in Scotland to do so, because they are on the verge of bankruptcy and it’s not a question of scaling back local services, it’s a question of saving the council from disaster.
“Yet instead of calling for a better settlement from the Government and supporting the people in his constituency Moray’s MSP is ridiculing the council leader in the Scottish Parliament and political point scoring which is a slap in the face for his constituents and why I am speaking out.
“The Scottish Government got an extra £2 billion in last week’s UK budget from the Chancellor so the SNP have no excuse not to invest in services for local people.”