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SNP in call for Conservatives to investigate party's Moray Council group after behaviour concern claims

By Alan Beresford

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MORAY’s SNP council group has called on the Scottish Conservatives to independently investigate behavioural issues within the party in Moray.

SNP group co-leader councillor Graham Leadbitter. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
SNP group co-leader councillor Graham Leadbitter. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

In a letter to Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party chairman Craig Hoy MSP, SNP council group co-leader Councillor Graham Leadbitter, has highlighted concerns around the fitness of one councillor to hold a senior elected member role.

He went on to state that concerns have been raised by SNP, Labour and Independent councillors, as well as by a retired Conservative councillor.

The Tory group's vote of no confidence at the end of June in one of their co-leaders, Buckie councillor Neil McLennan, who is also co-leader of the local authority, was branded a "debacle" by Councillor Leadbitter.

Former Tory group co-leader Councillor Neil McLennan.
Former Tory group co-leader Councillor Neil McLennan.

Councillor McLennan has subsequently resigned from the group and is sitting as an Independent councillor, coming just 10 weeks after the local government elections in which the Conservatives were returned as the largest single group with 11 seats, going on to take on the reins of administration. Claims and counter claims regarding behavioural problems in the party have been made.

Commenting on the SNP’s calls for an independent investigation by the Conservative Party, Councillor Leadbitter said: “Whilst we have different political views from each other I sincerely believe that the majority of councillors seek the role because they genuinely want to improve things for their community and find better ways of delivering public services.

"It is very difficult to do so, however, if the council’s administration is riven with internal issues.

“The recent resignation from the Conservative council group of one of their co-leaders, Councillor Neil McLennan, and the subsequent claim and counter claim of bad behaviour between him and the remaining Conservative group does nothing to help the people of Moray and the services they and their communities rely on.

“The Scottish Conservative Party needs to get a grip on these issues if we are to have a more positive environment for the council and Moray to make progress. That is why the SNP, as the main opposition group tasked with scrutiny of the Conservative administration, has written to Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy MSP calling for an independent investigation of these issues that appear to be escalating rather than getting resolved.

“Given the Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross plays an integral part in the Moray Conservatives as the local MSP and MP he must also back an independent investigation of these issues or risk being mired in them himself.”

However, a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives branded Councillor Leadbitters call for an investigation "blatant political games".

He said: "We take all allegations seriously and conduct the appropriate investigations. However, we will not engage in the blatant political games the SNP are clearly now trying to play by desperately trying to drag in senior Conservative MPs and MSPs.

"The Conservative group are fully focused on delivering on the priorities of the people of Moray, just as they have been since forming the council’s administration in May. We suggest the SNP stop trying to play politics and start working on what really matters to local people."

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