SNP Councillor Living in Austria Under Fire


A £16,000-a-year SNP councillor has admitted missing 40 council meetings last year – because he lives and works in Austria.

Arthur Morrison, who represents the Kirkcaldy East constituency in Fife, is now facing calls for his resignation.

Cllr Morrison runs Kirkcaldy-based consultancy company L5 Systems which he says requires him to be out of the country for most of the year.

Despite claiming a salary of £16,234 from Fife Council, Cllr Morrison admitted that he only visits Scotland once every five or six weeks.

Concerns were raised this week by other councillors who believe that he is failing to meet his duties.

Last year Cllr Morrison attended just seven out of 47 committee meetings for which he is a member.

While this financial year, which started in April, he has been present at just two meetings.

Cllr Morrison, who insists he will not resign, attended one of 13 Kirkcaldy Area Committee meetings held since April 2013, which Kirkcaldy Area Chairman Cllr Neil Crooks described as “sparse to say the least.”

The information came to light after one SNP member claimed Mr Morrison had failed to conduct surgeries in his constituencies and was only contactable by email because he is living overseas.

Speaking from Austria last night, Cllr Morrison said: “I am busy in Austria a lot of the the year, but I come back to Scotland every five to six weeks to attend meetings.

“Work demands that I am away.

“My business is basically consultancy, which basically requires me to be out of the country quite a lot. I am back next week.”

Cllr Morrison further claimed that he did come back to attend important meetings and carried out casework by email.

And the councillor suggested there was little point attending meetings because of party bias.

He stated: “Council meetings are heavily politically biased. It is hard to influence them when there is such a strong party line.”

Scottish Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said: “If Cllr Morrison does not want to serve the people of his ward, he should step down.

“People don’t elect a councillor to live hundreds of miles away.

“They want them to be an able representative and face in the community.

“By the sounds of things, Cllr Morrison is neither.”

Labour Cllr Kay Carrington, who also represents the ward as Cllr Morrison, said: “Around 20 percent of calls to me are by people who have failed to reach him.”

According to Fife Council, councillors are only required by law to attend one meeting in a six month period.

Labour Cllr Neil Crooks, said: “I want to make it abundantly clear that Fife Council’s minimum expectations are nowhere near enough of a commitment for a councillor to have, particularly now they are on a salary.”

Linda Bissett, democratic services manager, said: “Cllr Morrison has met this requirement so we are not investigating this issue.”

A spokesman for the SNP said: “Any complaints about the performance of an SNP councillor will be investigated in accordance with the SNP’s agreed procedures.”

A spokeswoman for Fife Council said: “Councillors are elected by the public and are therefore answerable to the electorate. Anyone who has a concern about the work of their local councillor should contact them directly.”