Scottish Independence march to take place in Elgin
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A PRO-Scottish independence march is set to take place in Elgin this summer.
All Under One Banner (AUOB) have organised the event, which will be the first pro-independence march in Moray, for July 4.
Moray SNP say party supporters are "looking forward" to the march, but local Conservatives say it will cause "chaos".
Douglas Ross, Moray's MP, said: "While everyone has the right to protest, these events in other parts of Scotland have been disruptive and expensive and I fear it will be the same here in Moray.
"There will be demands on the local council and emergency services before, during and after the march, and local residents are right to question if this is the best use of our already stretched resources."
However, Richard Lochhead, Moray's SNP MSP, says marches elsewhere have passed without problem, and he expects Elgin to be the same.
He said: "We are lucky to live in a society where people are able to take parts in events like the independence march in Elgin and I know independence supporters locally are looking forward to the rally in July.
"There have been similar marches and rallies organised across the country and, as far as I’m aware, these have been good-natured and well organised events, so I’m sure that the Elgin march will be no different.
"I have no doubt the organisers will take their responsibilities seriously and work with the authorities in a positive and co-operative manner."
The procession is scheduled to start at 1.30pm, with several routes being discussed at the moment. One would start at Elgin Academy and go down Morriston Road, North Street, Mitchell Crescent and Brodie Drive before ending at Cooper Park, with the other starting at Doocot Park and ending at Deanshaugh Park.
However, options remain open and the police are yet to be contacted. A route will be confirmed closer to the time.
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter (SNP, Elgin City South) said: "There are ongoing discussions with police and about parking arrangements. There has not been any application yet and nothing is definitive.
"I would suggest, though, those saying it should not go ahead are an absolute affront to democracy. I will always defend the right protest and free speech.
"Council officials will continue to work with any group that wishes to stage a march or demonstration in Moray to make sure it is organised in the best possible way."
However, according to Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) the march will cause a nightmare for motorists.
He said: "I have been contacted by several local people who are dismayed at the prospect of thousands of pro-independence marchers being bussed up the A9 from the Central Belt to Elgin, and the cost and inconvenience it will cause on the day.
"It is very important the organisers work with police and the local authority. If march organisers won’t co-operate Moray Council will be left having to pay for the licenses, road closures and sorting out parking on the day.
"There is the potential to cause chaos here as there is likely to be a rolling road closure on the A941 Elgin-Lossiemouth Road which is particularly busy on a Saturday.
"Given the dire finances of Moray Council and the horrendous cuts that have been made because of the SNP government having to pay potentially thousands for this March because organisers won’t is unacceptable."
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