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Moray councillors squabble over 30K climate change charge


By Jonathan Clark

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MORAY councillors have clashed over a £30,000 climate change strategy charge.

During a meeting of the full council last week, councillors discussed a request for £30,000 from officers to pay energy audits as part of the climate change strategy.

The Moray Conservative group said these charges were "hard to justify" given the axing of Moray's public toilets – and said the money should be paid by the Scottish Government.

However, the SNP said the money "pales into insignificance" when thinking of the bigger picture, with Councillor Leader Graham Leadbitter (SNP, Elgin City South) saying he is happy for the funds to be taken from earmarked reserves.

Councillor Eagle (Conservative, Buckie) brought the topic up. He said: "The Conservative Group is supportive of the need on action against climate change. However, we have also got to recognise the financial position.

Conservative leader Tim Eagle. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Conservative leader Tim Eagle. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

"I did raise this as a concern when the motion came to chamber back in June and Councillor Leadbitter assured me money would be coming through from the Scottish Government.

"But this isn't coming from the Scottish Government. This is £30,000 we will need to use from the reserves we have."

Councillor Leadbitter (SNP, Elgin City South) said: "When you make anything a priority other things have to give. It's going to cost the council significantly more money to deal with climate change going forward and that money is going to have to be taken from other areas to address that priority.

"But that priority is pretty overwhelming given the impacts of climate change.

Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

"The £30,000, to a certain extent, pales into insignificance in those terms. I also don't have a problem with it coming from the earmarked reserves."

Councillor Aaron McLean (Forres, SNP) said the cash had already been budgeted for. He added: "I'm struggling a bit with how this is an extra £30,000 because we have budgeted £2 million for council priorities.

"All the paper is asking for is confirmation we can use the £30,000 to fund that priority."

But Councillor Feaver (Forres, Conservative) said the cash was not agreed, and should come from the Scottish Government.

"It's absolutely vital we do the energy audits," she said. "They will save us money and how we can change carbon usage.

"The difficulty is the motion last June and we were promised there was no cost to this strategy.

"We should be going to the Scottish Government and saying 'we need the money please'."

Councillor McLean (Forres, SNP) put forward a motion to accept the recommendation, with an amendment being put forward by Councillor Ray McLean (Elgin City South, Conservative). The motion was carried by 15 votes to 9.


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