THE leader of the Moray Tories council group has come under fire for referring to services such as free school meals as "little treats".

A clip shows Tory councillor Tim Eagle discussing measures put in place by the Scottish Government to ensure children get the best possible start in life.

In the clip, Eagle lists many benefits children in Scotland receive and goes onto say that they are all "wonderful things", but criticises money being spent on them.

The councillor for the Buckie ward of Moray council describes these services as "little treats" despite going on to say that they are "necessities" for some people. 

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Eagle said: "There is a lot of things that the Scottish Government spend their money on, whether it's free school meals, musical instruction, early learning and childcare, giving out computers, giving out bikes, giving out bus passes.

"These are all wonderful things in themselves. I couldn't disagree with any of them.

"But what we have to recognise, if we're being fiscally responsible, is that when we give out all these little treats which are good and all of them can be argued that they are necessities, particularly for some people in our society, that has an impact on the amount that we can then spend on lifeline services."

The Moray SNP group shared the clip of Eagle speaking, and added that these are "are essential investments that make Scotland a fairer country and we are proud to invest in our young people".

They then called for people to vote in upcoming local elections for all Scottish councils on May 5.

The Scottish Government has committed itself to provide free school meals to all primary children by the end of the current parliamentary term.

Pupils in Primary 1 - 5 are currently able to benefit from a free meal with the scheme to be extended to pupils in Primary 6 and 7.

Plans were also announced in March of 2021 for a £350 million scheme to provide a new laptop, Chromebook or tablet to every primary school pupil in light of the disruption caused to learning by the coronavirus pandemic.

And free bus travel for all people aged under 22 was introduced this month.

Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter shared the clip of Eagle, saying: "These 'little treats' are to address the inequalities, exacerbated by savage Tory social security cuts, which underpin the poverty-related attainment gap."

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Retired primary school headteacher Lesley McPherson also voiced frustration at the belittling of these services, tweeting: "In my experience, these “little treats” (Primary HT retired ) ARE lifeline services and, for some children school dinners are the only meal of the day."

And SNP MP Pete Wishart highlighted the local elections upcoming in May, stating: "We have a great opportunity to remove Tory councils and councillors right across Scotland in May. Let’s make sure we do it."

Eagle has apologised for his choice of words. He said: “Provision of free school meals is vitally important for many families - and I make my support for the policy clear in the video.

“However, my choice of words was poor, and I’d like to apologise for that.”