A Moray councillor is claiming he is the victim of bullying.
At a full council meeting on Wednesday, Derek Ross said he had been “singled out” as a target for complaint and that amounted to “bullying”.
His statement came after bad-tempered discussions at the meeting, including one on a motion to lobby the United Kingdom government to remove the £20 Universal Credit payment introduced to help claimants deal with the pandemic.
The motion was put forward by councillor Paula Coy and seconded by councillor Graham Leadbitter, both SNP members.
There were frequent jibes between the SNP and the Tories with the Conservatives saying the Scottish Government could use their powers to mitigate the change.
The SNP councillors replied that the cut would impact on more than 3,000 Moray families, including 10,000 children.
Mr Ross, independent councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, said: “This is the most flagrant piece of politicking since I came into this council.
He added: “This is the way the SNP has worked: there’s no problem with schools, blame Westminster.
“There’s no problem with the NHS, blame Westminster.
“This is a political debate and it has no place in this council.”
Shona Morrison, SNP councillor for Fochabers Lhanbryde, said if 3,000 families in Moray were impacted by the move it was right for the issue to be debated but was interrupted by Mr Ross.
SNP councillor for Keith and Cullen Theresa Coull accused Mr Ross of acting angrily towards the chairwoman.
Mr Ross said: “I have a loud voice, I’m terribly sorry for having a loud voice. Am I going to be discriminated against for having a loud voice?”
Code of conduct
It was after a confidential paper this afternoon Mr Ross made his bullying claim.
In another incident during the Universal Credit debate, Frank Brown, Conservative councillor for Elgin North, called the motion incompetent.
He said: “Councillor Leadbitter should know better, I’ll let the council decide on councillor Coy.”
Committee chairwoman Shona Morrison asked if Mr Brown wanted to apologise to Ms Coy, and he stood by his statement.
Alasdair McEachan, head of legal and democratic services, advocated a review of the webcast of the meeting for members to take stock.
He said: “A further briefing session on the terms of the councillor’s code of conduct would be beneficial.”
The motion was passed by 14 votes to 10 for the council leader to write to the UK Government, Moray MP and the Secretary of State for Scotland calling for a rethink on the end to the Universal Credit uplift.
Warning has been issued to bickering councillors before
It’s not the first time questions have been raised about councillors’ behaviour in Moray.
Mr McEachan warned them to behave in August 2020 after stating he was spending “increased amount” of time sorting out squabbles between them.
The official categorised the complaints as “councillors showing a lack of respect for each other”, “councillor showing a lack of respect for officers”, “language used on social media” and “inappropriate use of council facilities”.
Earlier this year, councillor Ross was reminded of his responsibilities after joking in a public meeting that a colleague’s wife would benefit from a gym membership.
Mr Ross also suggested that fellow councillor Tim Eagle had bought his wife an iron and ironing board for Christmas.