Moray Council's nursery faces closure as further budget cuts imposed

A council nursery is under threat of closure under plans to slash one-sixth of a parks department budget next year.

Moray Council is consulting on a £510,000 cut to the £3m annual budget as it tries to find £24m of savings over the next three years.

It proposes to close the council's only nursery, Elgin Nursery in Cooper Park, and end the practice of growing bedding plants and nurturing floral displays in beds and hanging baskets as well as reducing mowing and maintenance in amenity areas.

The council also proposes to reduce its countryside ranger service, restructure the burial grounds service, increase burial charges and reduce maintenance and monitoring of the countryside footpath network.

The cuts, which came out of cross-party council discussions, are on top £100,000 lost from this year's budget.

One staff member said: "It is so disappointing that the council has chosen to hit the lands and parks budget again. It has been reduced so many times but this is the worst yet.

"Our parks staff do a great job and Moray has won many awards for its parks and quality of the environment. Now they will look really bland. It's going to have a huge impact in tourism."

Council convener Stewart Cree said the council is faced with declining resources and competing priorities. "A strong theme emerging from the cross-party working group is that communities will need to take on greater responsibilities for services and their local environment."

Outlining the Scottish budget for the next two years on 11 September, finance secretary John Swinney announced a real-terms cut of £624m for Scotland's 32 councils. The council tax freeze imposed in 2007-08 remains. He said Westminster decisions have cut the Scottish Government's revenue budget by close to 11 per cent over five years.

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