"Lock out the Tories" plea to Labour members from Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead as Conservatives respond by urging councillors to "respect the will of the electorate"
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THE political pressure ahead of Wednesday's first meeting of the new Moray Council has been cranked up with Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead urging Labour councillors to work with his party locally to "lock out" the Tories from administration.
The Conservatives won the most seats in the local government elections on May 5 and have 11 of the 26 seats on the council.
The SNP is the next biggest group with eight members, leaving three Labour, two Independent, one Green and one Liberal Democrat.
Both the main parties have been talking to other councillors since the election about possible alliances and collaborative working.
The Conservatives would need 14 to command a majority, however, the SNP were in control for the last four years as a minority administration, which included rebuffing an attempted Tory takeover, which ultimately saw control of the council decided by the cutting of a pack of cards.
However, in a direct appeal to the Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Independent members who potentially hold the balance of power, on the eve of the first meeting of the newly-elected council, Mr Lochhead insisted: “Moray Councillors have a big decision to make as to who will lead the council over the next five years.
“The reality is only the SNP or the heartless, intolerant, right-wing Tories can lead the Moray Council and a Tory administration would be a disaster for Moray and for local services."
The Conservative group, jointly led by Buckie councillor Neil McLennan and Forres member Kathleen Robertson, insist they have a vision of collaborative working to get the best for the people of Moray.
They say it is up to local councillors to decide if the will of the electorate "will be respected".
However, Mr Lochhead claimed the Tories have an "appalling track record" in Moray and during their last period in administration created "absolute chaos".
He claimed it was left to SNP and Independent to work together to get the finances back on track.
Mr Lochhead said it is more important than ever that Moray Council has "serious and compassionate leadership" to support people through the cost of living crisis.
"That can only be delivered if councillors work together to lock the Tories out of administration.
“People across Moray need Labour and other councillors to do the right thing, to put the needs and interests of their communities first.
"Labour councillors have a big choice to make. They can either work with the SNP to deliver a stable administration that wants to mitigate the impact of the Tory’s cost of living crisis, or they can sit on their hands and hand the keys of power to the Tories."
A spokesperson for the Moray Conservative Councillor group said: "New Moray Conservative Councillors have built a vision based on collaboration, getting the best for Moray people and respecting the democratic will of Moray voters.
"Richard Lochhead is entitled to alternative views. It is now in the hands of elected members to decide if the will of Moray voters will be respected."
Wednesday's meeting is due to start at 9.30am and will be an online meeting. You can view a webcast of the meeting at https://moray.public-i.tv/core/portal/home