First round of conversations comes to an end as a different one starts

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The first round of events run by Moray Council to start discussing next year’s budget with the public came to an end last night with an open meeting at Forres Academy.

And this morning Independent and SNP councillors meet to discuss the potential for working together to provide the Council with the leadership it needs.

As reported on insideMORAY earlier this week, the Council is currently being led by a minority administration of five independents and one non-aligned conservative after the conservative group left the administration on Monday.

While there is no shortage of comments flying around about whose fault it all is, there is no doubt that the people of Moray will have to work together to deal with the challenges and opportunities that are facing us. And this applies to councillors as much as to the rest of us.

Last night poorly attended but well-managed meeting heard that financial planning for the future of our Council services is currently based on an estimated shortfall of £20 million over the next two years. That is not the kind of cash you can find in the back of the sofa!

Nor is it a gap that can be bridged by just slashing services. Not if we still want to feel part of a society where we look after each other, particularly after the most vulnerable, and where we work together for the common good.

And the opportunities for the Council to increase the money it raises is limited; only around 15% of the Council’s income comes through the Council Tax, and less than 10% comes from charges for services.

So we will need to muster all our collective resources, including our ingenuity, to find different ways of meeting our needs and aspirations.

In a week during which we celebrate volunteering (volunteer week runs from 1 to 7 June), let’s hope our councillors can tap into the spirit that makes our communities great, and find a way to work together, with each other and with all of us … for the common good and for all of us!