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Row breaks out as Aberdeenshire councillors fail in bid to reclaim Cosla expenses

Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Jim Gifford
Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Jim Gifford

Opposition councillors in Aberdeenshire will not be allowed to claim expenses for attending meetings representing the local authority on a national stage.

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

Opposition group leader Jim Gifford had put forward a motion requesting members of Cosla who are not on the administration be allowed to reclaim the cost of attending meetings.

The former council leader argued that both councillors appointed to the organisation from within the administration and by various groups and committees within Cosla should be entitled to claim expenses from the local authority.

Mr Gifford argued the council should support “any” councillor on Cosla, whether a member by local authority appointment or that of their own political party.

But administration councillors branded it a waste of taxpayers’ money, and the motion was voted down 34 to 30.

Councillor Alison Evison successfully moved an amendment only to reimburse members the cost of attending Cosla meetings and events if appointed to the organisation by the council.

She said: “We were having to look at this motion when we are looking at the budget, when many people in our communities are facing unemployment and people are affected by the flooding.”

Bringing forward her amendment, she said: “The council will not pay travel expenses for political group meetings or for Cosla activities that can be reclaimed through Cosla.”

Council co-leader Richard Thomson said: “If you are there representing a political party, either pay out of your own pocket or get the political party to do it for you.”

Mr Gifford said: “This has nothing to do with party political matters.

“From what I have been able to find out through Cosla, and by speaking to other councillors from other councils, Aberdeenshire is completely out of step on this matter.”

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