Moray leaders to meet with Scottish Government over budget concerns

Stewart Cree - to lead council meeting with the Scottish Government.
Stewart Cree – to lead council meeting with the Scottish Government.

COUNCIL LEADERS WILL meet with Scotland’s Finance Minister Derek Mackay to discuss the perilous financial situation being faced by the local authority.

Mr Mackay has agreed to a meeting with council leader Stewart Cree, chief executive Roddy Burns and corporate director Mark Palmer next month.

It follows a call from Councillor Cree for an opportunity to impose on the Scottish Government the precarious position Moray is in as a result of years of austerity and cuts.

“I want him to understand the situation we are in and not just think of us as boys from the north coming down and moaning,” Councillor Cree said, adding: “I do not have an exe to grind – I do not want to blame the Scottish Government or UK Government. I am looking to put my cards on the table and say they do not stack up.”

The Council Leader is one of several serving members – as many as two-thirds are being quoted – who will not stand for re-election next year. He insists that the position being faced in Moray – and most other local authorities in Scotland – is one of having to close services that the public regard as essential rather than discretionary.

Sports facilities throughout the region are under serious threat of closure at a time when the United Kingdom as a whole is celebrating their best-ever haul of medals from an Olympic Games.

Mr Cree points to the £24million already shaved from the budget over the five years in which the Independent and Tory administration has ruled: “We were the first authority to look at libraries and the first to look at increasing the council tax.

“It is not that we have not been active – I want to come away [from this meeting] knowing the minister understands the situation we are in.”