PROTESTS took place outside Moray Council’s headquarters this morning as councillors gathered to set the area’s budget.
Trade union representatives as well as members of the public rallied to show their opposition to the tabled £6.4 million cuts.
A Valentine’s Day card, signed by hundreds of local people, was presented to the council’s Conservative/Independent administration at the start of the talks.
The proposals, which would see a 3% increase in council tax, include the closure or community asset transfer of town halls and a move to three-weekly collection of household waste. Within the authority, 89 jobs face the axe and it is anticipated that up to 45 compulsory redundancies would be required.
Other proposed savings include a reduction in school transport, scale-backs to school library services, and the removal of school crossing patrols during lunchtimes. They are among dozens of cuts, touching every area of the authority.
The budget setting got underway following an 11th hour bid by Councillor Derek Ross to delay the business for a fortnight to fully consider the Equalities Impact Assessments and to accept an offer by MSP Richard Lochhead to lead a delegation from the council to meet with Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay.
That was overturned by 13 votes to 12 and the budget discussions began just after 9.30am. UNISON branch secretary Suzanne Wright was among those at the rally and said: “It is UNISON’s firm belief that our members are being sacrificed to justify the political agenda of decision makers who do not value public services and as a result of years of inaction by councillors who have failed to put in place any plans to ensure the future viability of the council.”