Aberdeen City Council could strike a deal with the UK Government in the hope of better funding – bypassing Scottish ministers to boost Town House coffers.
Co-leader Douglas Lumsden has denied his desire for local authorities to receive money directly from Westminster would be an attack on devolution.
The Conservative will ask fellow elected members to back his bid to approach Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and council funding body Cosla about how the city is funded.
Mr Lumsden wants the officials to ask the UK Government to issue money to Cosla and his local authority directly to ensure it receives its “fair share of funding”.
Money from the Scottish Government – which includes the hundreds of millions extra issued during the pandemic – is allocated by the umbrella council body using a formula agreed by Scotland’s 32 councils, with change unlikely.
Mr Lumsden wants council chief executive Angela Scott to open discussions with Mr Jack and Cosla on money bypassing Edinburgh on its way to the north-east.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Local government is fully devolved and as such is the responsibility of the Scottish Government.
“There is no question, therefore, of any Scottish local authority being funded directly by the UK Government.”
Last night, Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill revealed his “grave concerns” too.
“That is not because we don’t think the Scottish Government continues to give Aberdeen a horrible and unfair deal on funding but because what Councillor Lumsden is suggesting is an attack on the devolution settlement,” he said.
“The UK Government has no role and should have no role in providing funding for local councils – it’s a matter for the Scottish Government and Parliament.
“We believe they need to get their act together and to find the courage to stand up to the big Central Belt authorities and reform the local government funding schemes.
“But that’s a matter for the Scottish Government – not the UK Government – and clearly, to try and involve them is an attack on the devolution settlement.”
But Mr Lumsden hit back, claiming: “Something has to be done as we have been lobbying the Scottish Government and Cosla for a fairer funding settlement and nobody has taken it seriously.
“If the Scottish Government and Cosla were more amenable to a fairer funding settlement, then there would be no need to do this.”
Reaction: Aberdeen City Council funding move to deal directly with Westminster
This morning, SNP group leader Alex Nicoll tweeted: “This really is an absolutely incredible stance from the finance convener of Aberdeen City Council.
“It shows a total lack of respect for the Scottish Parliament, the place where Councillor Lumsden wants to find himself next May.”
Mr Lumsden is the Scottish Conservative candidate for Aberdeen Central, standing against SNP minister Kevin Stewart for the seat in May.
The Tory group leader told The P&J he didn’t see any irony in his trying to bypass the parliament he was aspiring to be a member of.
“No, not at all,” he said.
“The Scottish Parliament is a devolved parliament with a huge amount of power and this just one area where I think we have to stand up for the city and make sure we get our fair share of funding.”