MORAY COUNCIL WILL launch one of its largest and most important consultations with council tax payers on Monday.
The local authority have been building up for weeks to finding the best way of gathering public views on the difficult – some say unbearable – service cuts that will see their annual spending fall by £12million over the next year.
In an attempt to learn the mistakes of previous consultations, this one is to be conducted mainly online via social media and the Council website. Those with no such connections can take part through libraries, access points and community centres – perhaps ironically, as libraries and community centres are two of the areas suggested as prime for cutbacks.
Information will be made available to the public in a way that provides as clear a picture as is possible of just what the local authority spends on our behalf each year. Officers will also make themselves available during the seven-week long consultation period to answer questions via social media.
This morning Council Leader Stewart Cree said: “The amount of money we need to reduce our annual spending by, £12million, will mean that services that many regard as being central to the council’s provision will need to be reduced or cut altogether.
“We need to know from residents what they could tolerate in terms of reductions in services, what they feel we could do differently that will save money, or indeed what services they might take on themselves.
“Fundamentally we need to reduce our outgoings. If we can’t agree as a community then these decisions will be taken out of our hands.”
The council, which has already reduced its annual spending by £24million over the last five years, still needs to find the further £12million over the next two years if it is to balance its books. Councillor Cree warned that should the council not be able to meet the savings target it could be bankrupt in two years’ time.
Moray is joining councils across Scotland in lobbying Scottish Government ministers for an increased grant settlement, but this is likely to take a number of years to bring about any change.
Information packs about the consultation and financial details will be available for download from the council’s website, and in hard copy from many of its premises throughout the area.
In addition, from Monday the council’s Facebook page will be open to conversations and queries about what could be cut or changed to meet the target.