A MORAY Councillor has quit the authority’s ruling administration after a spat over budget proposals.
Speyside/Glenlivet member Walter Wilson today left both his party and the council’s Conservative-Independent ruling group.
Mr Wilson, who was elected as a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party councillor in May, cited “irreconcilable differences” and said the decision was by no means easy. However, he said he fundamentally disagreed with some aspects of the administration's “swingeing” budget proposals, which are due to be published next month.
“I couldn’t vote for a budget that my conscience wouldn’t allow me to,” he said. “My principles wouldn’t allow me to just keep quiet and carry on.”
Mr Wilson added: “When I first stood for election, I did so under the Conservative banner, believing in the values and ethos from the party. I have always classed myself as a social conservative, and my views most easily aligned alongside the Scottish Conservatives.
“However, during budget discussions, it has become clear that my conscious will not allow me to vote for swingeing cuts to services throughout Moray but, more particularly, in my ward of Speyside/Glenlivet. Irreconcilable differences emerged within my own Conservative grouping and this has led me to take the decisions I have today.”
Mr Wilson, a chartered accountant, said he was well aware of the financial pressures facing the local authority. But he believes there remain alternatives to the proposals being tabled. He said his suggestions were met with a “brick wall”.
Until his resignation, Councillor Wilson was chair of planning and regulatory services, chair of police and fire and rescue services, the Armed Forces Champion for Moray and deputy chair of economic development and infrastructure. He also represented the council on the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Standing down from the additional duties, he will lose around £10,000-a-year.
“I would hope to continue to represent the ward of Speyside/Glenlivet as an Independent councillor, but will listen to constituents if they feel that I should resign my position as I am no longer aligned to the political party that they voted for,” he added.
On Wednesday, Mr Wilson will sit with the non-affiliated elected members when he attends a meeting of the Moray Council.