Mo­ray Tory hopes SNP can get deal on fund­ing

New mi­nor­ity rul­ing group has closer links to Scots govern­ment

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - LOCAL | NEWS - BY DAVID MACKAY

The head of Mo­ray Coun­cil’s largest op­po­si­tion group be­lieves the SNP tak­ing the helm of the author­ity could boost the re­gion’s hopes of un­lock­ing more fund­ing from the Scot­tish Govern­ment.

Con­ser­va­tive leader Tim Ea­gle joined rep­re­sen­ta­tives from all par­ties at Holy­rood this year to press the case for a new way of cal­cu­lat­ing fund­ing for coun­cils.

Mo­ray is the low­est funded ru­ral author­ity in Scot­land per head of pop­u­la­tion – only ahead of Aberdeen and Ed­in­burgh in the na­tional charts.

The SNP took con­trol of the coun­cil this week af­ter the Tories left the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion in a row over whether to fill two se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions.

Union bosses have wel­comed the change at the top – de­scrib­ing the last year as “tor­tur­ous” for em­ploy­ees.

Yes­ter­day Mr Ea­gle in- sisted he “stood by” his rea­sons for lead­ing the walk out and ex­plained he would con­tinue to cam­paign for more money for Mo­ray from the Scot­tish Govern­ment.

He said: “It’s some­thing we have to be work­ing to­gether on. I think pol­i­tics al­most has to go to one side for that and we should all work in the in­ter­ests for Mo­ray.

“I don’t know if it be­ing an SNP coun­cil will make any dif­fer­ence. It cer­tainly can’t harm the di­a­logue, maybe im­prove it slightly.

“When we met the fi­nance sec­re­tary I think he re­alised we were all there for the same rea­son.”

The SNP’s mi­nor­ity ad­min­is­tra­tion faces the task of find­ing about £14mil­lion over the next two years to bal­ance the coun­cil’s bud­get.

The Con­ser­va­tive and in­de­pen­dent al­liance slashed £6mil­lion from the books in Fe­bru­ary – lead­ing to crit­i­cism they

“I don’t know if it be­ing an SNP coun­cil will make any dif­fer­ence”

were pur­su­ing a “cuts agenda”. Mr Ea­gle said: “I wish the SNP well be­cause it’s a tough job. They were pretty strong on us in op­po­si­tion and they have to be pre­pared for us to be equally ro­bust, but also con­struc­tive.”

Coun­cil leader Graham Lead­bit­ter said: “The SNP is a demo­cratic party, it isn’t a case of us be­ing told what to do. We have dis­cus­sions with col­leagues in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and Scot­tish Govern­ment to work to­gether to achieve the best for Mo­ray and Scot­land.”

Tony Don­aghey, com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for Mo­ray Uni­son, said: “The new mi­nor­ity ad­min­is­tra­tion will come as a re­lief to coun­cil work­ers and res­i­dents wor­ried over their jobs and ser­vices.”

COM­MON CAUSE: Tim Ea­gle, head of the coun­cil’s Con­ser­va­tive group, stands by his rea­sons for walk­ing out

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