Moray parkland facilities facing major cut-backs

Parkland recreational facilities throughout Moray are to be hit with Councillors agreeing cuts that will save over half a million pounds each year.

Proposals, including the closure of the Elgin Nursery and a reduction of the countryside ranger service, were agreed at a full meeting of Moray Council on Wednesday.

Total savings from the cuts is expected to be £510,000 a year and will be subject to consultations with the workforce and trade unions.

Moray Council say that they are faced with making £24million in savings over the next three years – £6million less than was originally quoted by the local authority when they first discussed budget cut requirements in February.

Savings of £100,000 has already been made in the Council’s ground maintenance budget in the current financial year.  Convener of Moray Council, Councillor Stewart Cree, has said the major savings being proposed would help the council in balancing its budget.

He added: “These proposals were developed by the cross-party group of councillors which is reviewing all services provided by the council to match declining resources to a range of competing priorities.

“A strong theme emerging from the cross-party working group is that communities will need to take on greater responsibilities for services and their local environment.

“The savings agreed today will reduce the annual cost of grounds maintenance by £510,000 and will include the council no longer providing or maintaining flowers and shrub beds.

“There will also be a reduction in the areas of grass the council will be able to cut or the frequency of cutting.  Community groups will be provided with details of the areas that the council proposes to continue to maintain and will be given the opportunity to make alternative proposals.

“If community groups agree on alternative proposals that can be delivered for the same cost as the council suggestion, then the community proposal will be implemented.”

It is hoped that reductions in staffing levels will be achieved through non-compulsory means.

The main proposals agreed by Councillors

  • Closure of the Elgin nursery which raises summer bedding plants
  • A restructure of the burial grounds service
  • A reduction in the council’s countryside ranger service
  • A reduction in the development, maintenance and monitoring of the core paths and countryside footpath network
  • Removal of the Moray Training project
  • An increase in burial ground charges to recover the costs of the service
  • A reduction in maintenance standards of low amenity areas in consultation with local elected members and communities