Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has added her voice to growing calls for Aberdeen City Council to be granted new powers to boost economic growth.
She claimed there was “no reason” why it should not benefit from the UK Government’s City Deal programme and the time had come to give civic and political leaders a bigger say on how money was spent.
Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing is seeking support for a north-east City Deal, which has netted Glasgow more than £1billion in investment from the UK and Scottish governments.
A range of new powers are being devolved to the Scottish Parliament to enable it to raise some of the money it spends and campaigners want some of them to passed down to local authorities.
In a speech to the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh last night, Ms Davidson said: “It’s time we focussed on what powers should be devolved within Scotland as much as we have on those coming to it.
“Because the truth is local democracy in Scotland is now in a state of peril – it is one of the most centralised nations in the developed world and it cannot continue.
“A central belt bureaucracy is squeezing the life out of the rest of the country and the rest of Scotland now wants a say.”
Ms Davidson said Scotland “can’t and shouldn’t” be run from the M8 corridor that links Glasgow and Edinburgh and the party would campaign to ensure that power spreads across the nation.
Referring to the Glasgow City Deal scheme, Ms Davidson said the roll out should be just the beginning.
“Edinburgh is about to follow suit and there is no reason why Aberdeen, or Dundee shouldn’t do so too,” she added.
“But it shouldn’t stop there – power should go from our cities and regions to our local communities.”
Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy is in favour of Aberdeen and Inverness being granted City Deal status if Labour wins the general election in May.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she was open to a City Deal for Aberdeen and to the possibility of the council keeping extra business rates it generated if “sensible ideas” were brought forward.