NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Scottish independence: Aberdeen City Council vote letters 'did not break rules'

Claims that Aberdeen City Council's administration broke the rules by including a pro-Better Together letter to council tax payers have been thrown out by an independent watchdog.

Bills sent to every council tax payer in Aberdeen last month included a letter from the Labour-led authority's leader, Barney Crockett.

It said the city would be stronger now and in the future as part of the UK.

Audit Scotland said the move was an accurate statement of council policy.

The letter-sending was referred to Audit Scotland by SNP MSP Mark McDonald.

He said the council acted outside the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules.

However, Audit Scotland said that while the move was unusual, it was an accurate statement of council policy, which was not precluded by council tax regulations.

Audit Scotland concluded:

  • On the question of prohibition of political publicity under the 1986 Local Government Act, this would be a matter for the courts to decide
  • The 1992 Council Tax Regulations do not explicitly preclude types of information in council tax bills. The leader's statement accurately reflected the council's position on the referendum. However, the statement was very unusual and we are not aware of any other council including similar information on the referendum with their council tax bills
  • The council followed due process in reaching its decision on issuing the letter and incurred no additional expenditure by including the statement

The council said it had been vindicated.

Meanwhile, the commissioner for ethical standards in public life in Scotland is currently considering a number of complaints made about the letters.

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