A LONG AWAITED meeting between Moray Council’s leader and Scotland’s finance minister has finally taken place at Holyrood.
Moray’s ruling administration group sought the meeting with Derek Mackay MSP in the hope of underlining the serious financial difficulties being faced in Moray – and the need for greater assistance to ensure vital services are maintained in the region.
An earlier meeting with Mr Mackay had to be cancelled at the 11th hour because the minister was tied up with Parliamentary business – but Councillor Stewart Cree and the corporate director Mark Palmer finally met with the minister this week.
Councillor Cree described the meeting as “very positive” and said that he had managed to provide Mr Mackay with the facts over the huge financial shortfall facing Moray Council – which it is estimated would see council reserves wiped out soon after April 2018.
Moray’s budget this year is £207million – with £5.6million having to be drawn from reserves to meet that, meaning that by the of this year reserves will fall to £12.6million. That is just £600,000 more than the budget shortfall estimated for next year.
Following the meeting the Council Leader said: “There was a very good atmosphere during the meeting,” said Councillor Cree. “I felt he was listening and took on board all we said. I explained why, by April 2018, the council would be facing an annual deficit to fund services of at least £12million.
“I am confident that the minister will reflect on the case which we presented to him and will seek to persuade his cabinet colleagues that, without a change of thinking by the Scottish Government, there will be drastic cuts in local service provision, with long-term consequences for many families and communities.
“We invited the minister or his advisers to visit Moray Council to go through our estimates and plans in more detail, but he did not feel that was necessary. He has asked to be kept informed of any progress in our budget-setting process, and for us to research how many other councils were facing the same degree of financial challenge.”
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