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Opposition leader calls for all councillors to take part in COSLA

Aberdeenshire Council Conservative group leader Jim Gifford
Aberdeenshire Council Conservative group leader Jim Gifford

A senior north-east councillor has called on the local authority to cover the expenses of opposition members representing the council on the national stage.

Aberdeenshire Council is a member of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), which represents councils at a national level.

Now opposition group leader Jim Gifford has proposed supporting any north-east councillor who wants to take part in the umbrella organisation.

Mr Gifford’s proposal comes ahead of the first full council meeting of 2016 and has been submitted as a notice of motion.

In his motion the Tory councillor, who regularly represented Aberdeenshire at Cosla summits until he was ousted as council leader in a coup last year, says the convention is the “voice of local government” in Scotland.

“The work of Cosla depends on the support of its member local authorities both financially and practically.

“That practical support ranges from attendance by councillors at executive groups, leader meetings and convention meetings through to input on policy discussion at various sub-committees and short-term working groups.”

Attendance at Cosla meetings currently reflects the political makeup of each council. Group leaders also join the Cosla presidential team in summits with the government at Holyrood and with senior officers from Police Scotland.

Mr Gifford believes it is vital for councils to have a “seat at the table” when decisions about the future of local authorities are made by the umbrella body Cosla, and that there should be no barrier to any councillor from Aberdeenshire attending.

He adds in his motion: “Aberdeenshire Council supports the work of Cosla and should support any councillor who attends Cosla meetings – whether nominated by the council or by any of the political groups within Cosla – where such attendance would be of benefit to this council.”

This support would include the local authority covering travel and other expenses for councillors attending meetings.

At Thursday’s meeting of full council, members will also discuss health and social care integration, as well as a review of tourism in Aberdeen and the surrounding area.

Last night administration councillor Alison Evison responded to Mr Gifford’s motion.

She said: “Aberdeenshire Council is fully committed to Cosla, both financially and in terms of councillor involvement. Cosla has a resource by which it can support the work of political groups. It is far more appropriate for political appointees on working groups and sub-committees to claim expenses from this than for individual authorities to pay expenses to these political appointees directly.”

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