Scottish Conservative party wants to empower our local councils to boost economic growth

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In April 2012, I wrote in this paper that I hoped the Scottish Conservatives would increase our number of councillors in the North-east. We did just that, ending up in administration in both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Our 16-strong group in Aberdeenshire has delivered new schools and sports facilities for communities across the region, while our city team pushed through the long-awaited Third Don Crossing.

The Scottish Conservatives have made significant progress since then on a national level, replacing Labour as the second largest party in Scotland.

In last year’s Holyrood elections, we won in Aberdeenshire West and increased our share of the vote in constituencies like Aberdeen South by 19%.

This week we are ready to make a big impact in both Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire.

Our councillors already have a track record of delivery.

The new bridge over the River Don – which had been talked about for decades – finally became a reality to help commuters in the north of the city and beyond.

That project happened despite opposition from Labour – the largest group on the city council.

It was that same determination that saw Ross Thomson secure funding for replacement bus routes in the west of the city after First Aberdeen cancelled several services.

The Scottish Conservative group was also instrumental in persuading Labour to work with the private sector on affordable housing delivery.

The public-private model was just one of several innovative policies pursued by this council to raise income at a time when council budgets are being cut even further.

Aberdeen also remains the lowest funded council in the country, however, with Aberdeenshire the third lowest, something which we are determined to fix.

In the Scottish Conservative manifesto, we have a plan to allow council to retain income from LBTT – the tax on property sales. This could prove to be a significant change for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire if adopted, and would help address the historic funding shortfall.

It is just one of the ways in which we want to empower councils to boost economic growth. It is time to put a stop to the endless centralisation we have seen under the SNP for the last 10 years.

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire need more Scottish Conservative councillors. We have delivered a lot – and I believe we can make an even bigger difference with larger groups.

A vote for the Scottish Conservatives will also send a very strong message here in Aberdeen that we don’t want another referendum on independence. We want councillors ready to work hard and do their best for the North-east and everyone who lives here – not be distracted by campaigning for the break up Britain.