The leader of the Green Party in Moray has expressed his concerns over aspects of the budget announced by Moray Council on Tuesday.
James MacKessack-Leitch has said that while budget cuts of over £2million may have been unanimously agreed by Councillors that did not mean that it was a good deal for the people of Moray.
Mr MacKessack-Leitch added that the decision to cut roads maintenance in the region by almost £1million was of particular concern.
He said: “The decision to cut roads maintenance by almost £1 million over the next five years is unwise, and may cost more in the long term.
“While Moray’s roads may be in a better state than the national average, it is shameful of councillors to suggest that we should be lowering our expectations, and aspiring to mediocrity.
“It is also strange that in suggesting that the Council cannot afford to maintain its road infrastructure at present, there is still a clear determination to press ahead with the hugely expensive, unnecessary, and unpopular Elgin Western Link Road.”
It was, however, the decision to cut school budgets by 0.5% that raised the biggest concern for the local Greens.
Mr Mackessack-Leitch said: “Yet the biggest concern raised by this budget is the additional pressure being put on our head teachers and schools.
“Having to find a 0.5% reduction within the school budget would be difficult at the best of times, but having faced the withdrawal of classroom assistant posts last year, and with an ongoing school review which is ruling nothing out, this is a particularly unhelpful and inconsiderate move by Councillors.
“It may also be seen as a cynical attempt to shift the blame for any subsequent job losses or reduction in resources away from the Councillors who are supposed to be showing leadership and making the tough decisions.
“However, we welcome the decision to increase the focus on recycling, which we know is not only good for the environment, but also for the Council’s purse, and can bring additional benefits of jobs and income to the wider area.
“It is also an area where Moray has, and can, lead the nation, and shows that there are clever alternatives to straight budget cuts – something we would all like to see more of.”