MSP donates councillor salary to local causes

Mairi with Brechin Community Pantry volunteer Janet Warnes
Mairi with Brechin Community Pantry volunteer Janet Warnes

Brechin Community Pantry will benefit from a £1000 donation - after Mairi Evans MSP donated her councillor salary.

The volunteer group is to open new premises in the summer, and has been set up to run alongside existing Angus foodbanks, will provide emergency food supplies, a clothing bank, debt counselling, IT skills, basic cooking skills and a free food fridge.

The pledge from Ms Evans – who stepped down as a Brechin and Edzell Councillor ahead of the local authority elections – has helped get the project off the ground.

Since her election as MSP for Angus North and Mearns last May, Ms Evans, has donated her councillor income to charities and local groups.

Groups such as Inch Maintenance and Preservation Society, Art Moves and Brechin Defibrillator have also benefited from her pledges and Ms Evans has vowed to continue to support these groups as an MSP.

Brechin Community Pantry volunteer Janet Warnes said: “As soon as Mairi was elected as an MSP – and without prompting – she gave us £1000 with the promise of more money if we needed it.

“Without this cash injection, our project would not have made it out of the starting blocks.

“It gave us the resources and the impetuous to turn an idea into reality. We used some of the money to supplement food parcels in the run up to Christmas.

“It has had both an immediate and long lasting impact.

“Because of her financial support we have a solid base to work on and have been able to seek other funding avenues to grow and develop our idea.

“But it is not just financial backing Mairi has given us. It’s her support as a caring human being.

“She fully endorses the project and, as a Councillor, she worked hard to ensure that we had the full support of Angus Council to put our infrastructure in place to ensure Brechin Community Pantry can work effectively to support anyone who needs it.”

The financial input to numerous local groups is something Ms Evans, who ended her ten year stint as a councillor last week - has kept quiet until now.

She explained: “The most important thing was giving these groups the money and I hope, even in a small way, I’ve been able to help them.

“But I think there is a misconception that when I was elected as MSP that I was staying on as a Councillor to top up my own bank account.

“That was never the case. I’ve continued my work as a Councillor alongside my work as an MSP for the area but I’ve tried to help local groups, financially, by directing my salary from Angus Council to them.

“When I was elected as an MSP in May I had two choices – see out the final year of my term as a councillor or quit and provoke a by-election.

“In keeping with many other sitting councillors in Scotland who were also elected as an MSP last year - I chose to stay on.

“Firstly, it would have cost Angus Council – and ultimately the tax payer – considerably more had I resigned as a councillor.

“The cost of a by-election in Angus is around £21,500. Add in a year’s councillor salary and that figure would swell towards £40,000.

“By remaining as a Councillor until May, the cost to the public purse has been less than half that.

“It has been a real pleasure to serve the people of Brechin and Edzell as a Councillor and I will continue to work hard for my home community as their MSP.”