THE SNP OPPOSITION GROUP at Moray Council insist that they have a better option to several of the cuts being proposed ahead of the crunch budget meeting on Wednesday.
SNP Councillors say it is not too late for the Conservative-led Administration group to rethink their plans – in particular education cuts that include reducing school librarians, home school link workers and school technicians or visiting specialists.
In what they are calling alternative proposals, the SNP say that it is possible to protect the range of education services and also halt the planned funding cut to Moray Citizens Advice.
In a set of figures produced by the SNP group, those and other proposed cuts should be reversed with additional costs to the local authority given as £953,000 this year and £219,000 next. To mitigate these, they offer alternative savings that would provide little change this year but £592,000 next year.
SNP Opposition co-leader Cllr Graham Leadbitter said: “We have 48 hours to stop Moray education cuts. The SNP have proposed a balanced alternative budget that would halt the savage education cuts being proposed by the Tory/Independent Council Administration.
“With £4million more available to the Council than was anticipated this is an opportunity to protect education services and still set a balanced budget. There is still a lack of strategy from the Council’s Administration and they have simply adopted a policy of slash and burn.
“I would urge people in Moray to use the next 48 hours to challenge the Tory and Independent Administration in Moray to rethink their budget and stop the savage education cuts they are proposing.”
Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead insists that the Conservative and Independent Councillors are not prepared to use the additional funding provided by the Scottish Government to protect education, saying: “If these cuts to services, which support some of our most vulnerable young folk, go ahead, then the cost to Moray and to Moray Council further down the line will be much, much higher.
“In 48 hours the Council will have the chance to vote for an SNP budget proposal that protects education or a budget from the Tory and Independent Administration that is short-sighted and damaging to Moray.
“I am urging people to make their voices heard to the Council’s Administration and I am urging the Council’s Administration to listen and act on those concerns.”
Among the ideas being put as alternative savings are introduction of a ‘car club’ for hiring pool cars over weekends, as used by Aberdeenshire Council. They also call for a new post of ‘Income Generation Officer’ on a fixed-term and performance-based basis, as well as management restructuring and an additional shared service target.