At a meeting of the Moray Council today, Councillors rejected a motion put forward by the Moray Council Conservative group to overturn the decision to stop grass cutting throughout Moray, with the SNP leading the charge.
Commenting, Leader of the Conservative Group Tim Eagle (Buckie Ward) said: “It is usual for the public to comment on budget cuts but the decision to stop grass cutting has been an issue the public have raised with me consistently since February. Working alongside Douglas Ross MP and my fellow councillors, we decided that this decision needed to be reversed, such was the public anger generated.
“Whilst the decision not to cut the grass in public areas was revised in May to allow grass around Housing Estates to be cut, we found that the approach was inconsistent across Moray. This coupled with children not being able to access open spaces for sports, elderly residents not being able to sit on favoured benches and concerns over the direct impact this decision would have on tourism, led us to continue the fight for the decision to be reversed.
“It was therefore a real disappointment that the SNP have decided to ignore the public's voice and lead a charge against this motion. In the bigger scheme of things, this was not a great deal of money that was being saved, especially when you consider the council underspent by over £2million last year, allied to the fact that we are seeing significant money coming in through the Barnett Consequentials,( currently over £1billion heading towards Scotland). Reversing this decision would have ensured that we could feel proud of our communities and show that we are open for business. The SNP clearly have other ideas as they force communities to take on the delivery of service after service thanks to their own Government's monumental failure to fund Moray Council correctly."
Moray MP Douglas Ross said “I’m disappointed, but not surprised by this decision. The SNP-led Moray Council made this decision earlier in the year to save a grand total of £45,000. Considering Moray is the jewel in the crown of Scotland and its beauty attracts thousands of tourists each year, boosting the local economy, I would have thought that it would be a priority to ensure that our towns and villages were as clean, tidy and welcoming as they have always been, with well-kept green open spaces. Instead we have uncut grassed areas, increased litter and dog fouling and we have to rely on dedicated and committed volunteers to undertake the work the Council should be doing.
“A petition I set up this summer to try to persuade Moray Council to review their decision on grass cutting secured nearly 5000 signatures showing the strength of feeling on this issue.
“I accept that Moray Council, like all Local Authorities, have to make significant savings, because of the penny pinching tactics of the SNP Scottish Government, who continued to cut funding to local councils even when they received a huge funding boost from the UK Government. However, it’s hard for people in Moray to take the Council seriously when they spend over £100K on a refuse recycling lorry that can’t collect glass and which only was used three times in six months. This mismanagement of funds equates to two full years of grass cutting in all public open spaces in Moray. I’m bitterly disappointed that the council have refused to listen to local people and continue with this damaging decision which is clearly a cut too far.”