The leader of Moray Council yesterday met Scotland’s finance minister, Derek Mackay, to press for increased government funding to allow current levels of council service to be maintained.
Councillor Stewart Cree, who was accompanied by corporate director Mark Palmer on the visit to Edinburgh, described the meeting as ‘very positive’ and apprised the Minister of the facts about the huge financial shortfall faced by the council.
Based on current estimates, council reserves – the money it has set aside to deal with unforeseen and unexpected expenditure – will be wiped out soon after April 2018.
Mr Mackay was told that the council’s budget for the current year is £207million, of which £5.6million will be funded by reserves.
Reserves at the end of the current financial year are expected to stand at £12.6million, with the budget shortfall for 2017-18 estimated at £12million.
“There was a very good atmosphere during the meeting,” said Councillor Cree. “I felt he was listening and took on board all we said. I explained why, by April 2018, the council would be facing an annual deficit to fund services of at least £12million.
“I am confident that the minister will reflect on the case which we presented to him and will seek to persuade his cabinet colleagues that, without a change of thinking by the Scottish Government, there will be drastic cuts in local service provision, with long-term consequences for many families and communities.
"The minister has asked to be kept informed of any progress in our budget-setting process, and for us to research how many other councils were facing the same degree of financial challenge.”
Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 95,510 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.
Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.
Headquartered in Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.