The SNP says a shock new Tory/Liberal threat to rural school provision has emerged since the outcome of the local election, and Alex Salmond and Stuart Donaldson have stood up for rural schools against Tory-Liberal opportunism.
The SNP says no sooner had the Tory and Liberal Councillors formed a new Council Administration, they announced a “review” of rural school provision. This revelation was exposed in two BBC North East radio interviews on May 17, marking the formation of the Tory/Liberal councillor alliance.
Tory Leader Cllr. Jim Gifford said: "If you mapped where everyone lives in Aberdeenshire and mapped where the schools are, they are not in the right places and that comes at huge cost. We need to have a big grown up discussion about whether schools are in the right place.”
Liberal Deputy Leader Cllr. Peter Argyll said: "We need to look at it. The schools that are there were built in the 19th century to deal with the population back in the 19th century. Things are completely different now. We do need to look at it."
In February 2017, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in their former alliance partnership proposed to slash the education budget by £3 million, including reducing music tuition, the pupil support assistant budget and cutting £500,000 from special education.
The Tory Council leader later confirmed intended cuts to education in an interview on May 9, stating that: “It’s way over half the budget of the council, to say education is going to be protected. Immediately I would say it will have to come from somewhere else and that’s not possible or feasible.”
In response, SNP candidate Alex Salmond said: “Make no mistake. The new Tory-led administration is coming after our rural schools. For each village they are a prize community asset and they should be cherished and protected not closed down.”
“My Tory opponent is a councillor and voted for the education cut earlier this year. This election is an opportunity to say loud and clear to the Tories: Hands off our education budget and hands off our rural schools.”
The Former Liberal Councillor, Mike Raeburn, who left the Liberals over their previous coalition with the Tories, has announced his backing for Alex Salmond.
He said: “The Tory Party is lurching ever further to the right. You can trust Alex Salmond to fight for the folk of the Gordon and the North East of Scotland.”