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5 key takeaways as Douglas Ross launches Scottish Tory council manifesto

Douglas Ross.
Douglas Ross.

Douglas Ross vowed Scottish Tory councillors will keep taxes low and stand up to the SNP after next month’s council election.

The Holyrood Conservative chief launched his party’s manifesto ahead of the upcoming nationwide May 5 vote.

Mr Ross remained optimistic the Tories can perform well in the local elections despite anger over the partygate scandal after Boris Johnson was fined.

He outlined several key pledges ahead of the vote, but not all went according to plan at the Glasgow launch event.

Here are five key takeaways after the Tories unveiled their manifesto.

1 – Keep council tax low

Douglas Ross vowed Tory administrations will cut council tax and keep it low wherever they can.

Councillors can now alter the levy which raises local funds after the SNP’s Kate Forbes ended a lengthy rates freeze late last year.

Local governments across Scotland are set to raise council taxes to help stave off cuts to key services.

Kate Forbes ended the council tax freeze.

But Tory councillors will be expected to oppose any hikes on the tax if they are elected next month.

The Conservatives also promised to increase the single persons discount for parents who are on their own and young professionals.

Outlining his election plans, Mr Ross said: “A vote for Scottish Conservative councillors is a vote for local champions who will be totally focused on your priorities and on your community.”

2 – Opposing workplace parking levy

The Scottish Tories remain ardently against the SNP’s new workplace parking levy which was formally introduced last month.

The Scottish Government’s tax on drivers is aimed at encouraging commuters on public transport more regularly.

But the Conservatives claim the levy could instead hurt staff members who have no other way of getting to their workplace.

Tory councillors will be expected to ignore the tax wherever they hold power.

3 – Battle to win unionist voters

Douglas Ross insisted the Tories remain the party best-placed to protect the UK.

He claimed Labour will continue to do deals with the SNP at a local level despite Anas Sarwar ruling out coalitions.

Mr Ross pointed out that Fife council’s Labour co-leader hinted his party would still accept a “working arrangement” with the nationalists.

And he slated Mr Sarwar’s party for suspending Labour’s Aberdeen councillors in 2017 after they went into coalition with the Tories.

Labour will fail unionist voters.

– Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative leader

He said: “Whatever Anas Sarwar says in this election, the facts are clear.

“Labour have already done deals to put the SNP in power and straight after the election they will do the same disastrous deals all over again. Right across Scotland, Labour will fail unionist voters.”

Despite Mr Ross insisting his party are the strongest champions of the union, it emerged yesterday a Perth and Ross candidate was still an SNP member when he first stood for them.

But the Tory leader gave local businessman Aziz Rehman his backing and said he was glad the election hopeful had left the SNP to join the Conservatives.

4 – Anger at partygate and cost of living crisis

The Tory launch event got off to a bumpy start when Douglas Ross’ speech was interrupted by notorious independence campaigner Sean Clerkin.

The anti-poverty activist branded Boris Johnson a “criminal” and slammed inaction over the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Boris Johnson.

Mr Ross was forced to once again give his backing to the prime minister after he received his partygate fines.

He insisted the war in Ukraine meant Mr Johnson should not step down and refused to be drawn on whether his stance would change if the Conservative chief receives more fixed penalty notices.

5 – Promise to be tough on crime

The Tory manifesto stated the party will make sure they are tough on violence and crime in local communities.

Conservative councillors will hand out Community Payback Orders more frequently when offences are committed.

Mr Ross’ party also wants to see more police officers out patrolling their local communities.

But the Highlands and Islands MSP was quizzed on whether Tory crime credentials could be taken seriously given the prime minister had been fined for breaking the law.

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