Schools and Roads main targets in latest ‘consensus’ Council budget

Head Teachers and Moray’s road users look set to bear the brunt of the next round of cuts when Moray Council meets today to discuss their budget.

The ‘consensus’ budget proposals look set to sail through a meeting of the Full Council having been drawn up by a cross-party area-based review team, formed after the highly contentious budget plans were forced through last year by the Independent/Tory administration.

While it has been reported that the Council required to shave £30million in total from its budget, the result of cuts passed down by the UK Government through the Holyrood parliament, it is understood that the actual cuts are not as severe as first thought with the council leader, Allan Wright, admitting to a “less than expected” cut in the Scottish Government grant.

However, a further raft of cuts agreed today are still expected to save around £2.1million.

This will include savings from Head Teachers being asked to identify cuts in their own school budgets of 0.5% during 2014-15, which it is estimated will save around £175,000.

Almost half the total savings is expected to come from cuts in road maintenance, with spending being cut by just short of £1million a year.

Officials insist that this level of cuts to Moray’s road maintenance would mean that standards in the region would fall only as far as the national average, a spokesman saying: “This will mean that the network should be as good as most other council areas’ roads in Scotland.

“The economic development and infrastructure services committee will consider a report at their meeting in March that details how it is proposed to manage this reduction.”

Moray Council’s reserves will again be used to help balance the budget over the coming year with around £1.7million expected to be drawn down.

The area-based review team was formed in the wake of public fury at the cuts imposed last year. Closure plans for almost half of Moray’s public library network sparked angry protests and a threat of legal action against Moray Council for not meeting its statutory requirements – forcing Councillors to back down and reduce the number of closures from seven to four libraries.

There was also a reversal on plans to close several public toilets in the region.

Further budgetary pain is expected however, with a review currently under way of all schools in Moray as well as Sports and Leisure facilities.

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