Monday, 16 July 2018

Tory 'Dark Money' Scandal Hits Banff & Buchan Tory MP

Over Half of Tories' Local Spend Came from Source Under Investigation

The ongoing controversy of the ‘Dark Money’ scandal which has hit the Conservative Party in Scotland has come to the North-east with the revelation that over half of the declared donations received by David Duguid MP’s election campaign came from a so-called ‘Dark Money’ source.

Campaign donation returns lodged by Banff & Buchan Tory Election Agent, former councillor Edie Chapman, show that a donation of £7500.00 was made to Mr Duguid’s campaign from the “Scottish Conservative Trust”, referred to by the MP in a radio interview as the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT).

Campaign group Unlock Democracy said that unincorporated organisations like SUAT are often created by political donors to “exploit loopholes in electoral law” and to “shield themselves from scrutiny”.

There is little information in the public domain about SUAT. Electoral Commission records show that the trust’s date of creation was given as 26 April 1968. But SUAT is not a registered entity with Companies House, the Financial Conduct Authority, or OSCR – Scotland’s charity watchdog.

This means there is no information available about the people who currently manage the organisation, and no public accounts to indicate who its donors are, or what assets it holds.

It is understood the Electoral Commission are currently examining the source of these donations.

Commenting on the revelations, a spokesperson for Banff & Buchan SNP said:

“Ruth Davidson’s party locally has serious questions to answer over these revelations, as it seems the local Tories have been bankrolled by murky donations.

“The local Tory MP has admitted in an interview that he was more interested in electioneering than in where the money to fund his own campaign was coming from, passing that particular buck to his local party, in this case his Election Agent Edie Chapman.

“Now that this and several other donations to Tory campaigns across the country is under examination by the Electoral Commission, the local Tories must come clean and tell us what they know about the source of the ‘dark money’.

If they don’t know any more than what their own MP knows, then this raises serious questions about transparency and trust. The voters of Banff & Buchan are entitled to know who funds their MP.”


Banff & Buchan Tory Donations return [click here]

Friday, 29 June 2018

School Crossing Patrollers Reinstated Under New SNP Administration

A number of School Crossing Patroller posts in Moray have been reinstated following action by the new SNP Administration just two weeks into office.

SNP Councillors had requested a report on School Crossing Patrollers be brought to a Special Council meeting this week and successfully won a debate to reinstate all Crossing Patrollers not on signalised crossings, meaning that the vast majority of School Crossing Patrol locations will remain, providing morning and afternoon cover.

Welcoming the decision SNP Councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, Louise Laing, who has been very vocal on the issue, said:

“I am delighted to have the majority of School Crossing Patrollers reinstated. The biggest issue with the most complaints that I deal with is the speed and volume of traffic coming through the towns in my ward.

“It may not be the council’s statutory obligation to get children to school but morally it’s an issue that’s important to both SNP group and the people we represent.

“There are many difficult decisions to make in the coming years but child safety has to be amongst our top priorities. We want to encourage our children to walk or cycle to school and be fit and active, but we also need them to be safe.”

SNP Councillor for Buckie, Sonya Warren, said:

“There has been huge concern from parents and the wider community about the loss of School Crossing Patrollers and we have always felt that this was a cut too far in the last Council budget.

“I am delighted that one of our earliest actions as the new Council Administration has been to get this issue back on the table and I am grateful for the support from other councillors who backed our proposal to reinstate the majority of the School Crossing Patroller sites, including a particularly busy location in Buckie that is set to get busier with the opening of the new early years facility at Lady Cathcart.

“We have already made significant progress towards what will be a challenging budget but the safety of children walking to school is an area we firmly believe must be protected.”

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Buckie SNP Councillor Sonya Warren Welcomes Inclusion of Portessie in Flood Consultation Response

Buckie SNP Councillor Sonya Warren has welcomed the inclusion of Portessie in Moray Council’s response to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) Flood Risk Management in Scotland – 2018 Consultation on Potentially Vulnerable Areas.

While Portgordon has already been recognised in previous plans as being vulnerable to flooding from the sea, Portessie, which suffers similar problems, had not been in those plans.

Moray Council’s flood alleviation experts have recommended the inclusion of Portessie in their response to the consultation.

Commenting Councillor Warren said:

“Portessie and Portgordon residents have suffered several flood events over the years, caused by overtopping of waves and high tides during severe sea conditions.

“Getting Portessie properly recognised as being vulnerable funding is really important is making the case for investment in better flood defences for the community and I hope that SEPA will include the Council’s recommendations on Potentially Vulnerable Areas like Portessie when it publishes the updated Flood Risk Management plan.

“The Council’s engineers and technicians have a huge breadth of knowledge gathered through their own observations and from the experiences of residents and businesses and this is an important step in the process of getting more investment in flood defences.”

Thursday, 5 April 2018

SNP Responds to News on Moray Autism Services

The SNP in Moray have responded to the announcement today [Thursday] that Scottish Autism are to withdraw from their service in Moray.

After a series of meetings between Moray Council and the service provider an agreement could not be reached and they have chosen to withdraw from the service in Moray.

As a result Moray Council will now transfer the service in-house, which will mean staff in the service being TUPE transferred to work for the Council.

Commenting on the news the SNP Opposition Spokesperson on Children and Young People’s Services, Cllr Sonya Warren, said:

“While it is disappointing that Scottish Autism have chosen to withdraw from providing the service in Moray the most important thing is that we need to ensure that the children and families are put firmly at the centre of this.

“I have sought and received assurances that the service will continue to be provided and the staff currently providing the service will be TUPE transferred to the Council.

“There needs to be constructive work done with Scottish Autism to ensure a smooth transition of the service with stability and consistency being absolutely vital to the young people using the service.

“The Council has a team of dedicated and highly skilled staff who provide other autism services in Moray and with the addition of the skills and experience of staff being transferred I believe the Council can deliver good provision for service users.”

SNP MSP for Moray Richard Lochhead said:

“Clearly the uncertainty of the past few weeks has been unsettling for families in Moray who have been concerned about the future of autism services for their children. There will undoubtedly still be some concern about Scottish Autism’s decision to withdraw. However I am pleased that the Council are committed to continuing the service in-house, including the transfer of existing staff.

“It is unfortunate that Scottish Autism are withdrawing from Moray and we will keep a close eye on the transition but there is a strong commitment to making that transition as smooth as possible and maintaining stability for the young people. This may also present an opportunity to further improve the service once the transition period is complete.”

SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast Stewart Stevenson said:

“There have been real concerns for families using autism services in Moray in recent weeks over the future provision of the service and while it has been announced that Scottish Autism are withdrawing from Moray I am heartened that the Council has no intention of dropping the service and will now transfer the provision in-house.

“The smooth transition of this service is obviously massively important and until that is fully resolved people will understandably be nervous about the service provision. However I acknowledge the Council’s commitment to maintaining the service and I know that the staff will be committed to making it work.”
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