Friday, 16 November 2012


“Two forty five … two sixty five … two seventy five … two eighty.  Not enough!”
“Good morning Convener, still figuring out the budget?”
“Hello Nigel, right now I’m on the Catering Budget.  It’s a bit of a job though.”
“So how much have you got so far?”
“Well I’m at two eighty, but it’s not enough!”
“Two hundred and eighty thousand pounds off the catering budget?  That’s remarkable – and you don’t think it’s enough?”
“Don’t be silly!  I’ve got two pounds an’ eighty pence!  But it’s not enough for a three pound sandwich for my lunch from the vending machine.  My budget’s just like the Council’s – my stomach has demands and expectations that can’t be met with ‘current resources’.”
“Well, we’re all going to have to make sacrifices Convener.  I suppose that you’ll just have to choose something less expensive”
“Well I was going to have ‘Tai Chicken in Chilli Sauce’ but I’ll just have to make do with tuna or cheese”
“Well that’s the sort of choices that are facing us now.  It’s no good having a caviar lifestyle on a corned beef budget”
“Oh I like corned beef!  My Granny always gave us corned beef.  I had corned beef every Tuesday right up ‘till 1964”
“1964 Convener?”
“Yes – that was the year of the Typhoid outbreak in Aberdeen.  It was blamed on the corned beef – so after that we just had to make do with a boiled egg - until Edwina Currie came along and put the kybosh on them!  Then it was BSE in hamburgers and Listeria in cheese.  It’s a wonder we’ve anything’ left to eat at all.  Have you seen what’s in sandwiches nowadays?”
“In them? Convener?”
“Yes – look what it says on this sandwich packet -“This product contains mechanically recovered chicken”.  Sounds like it fell down a hole and then they dug it out with a JCB!
Convener! - you’re off at a tangent again!”
“Perhaps, but my granny would never have ….”
“Yes Convener, I think we’ve heard quite enough about your granny, this is getting us nowhere.  What was it that you wanted to see me about?”
“Oh!  It’s this budget workshop thingamajig.  I’ve got the first one in Forres tonight and I don’t know what I’m supposed to say or do.  I’ve never been to a workshop before – do you have to take a hammer and saw?”
“No Convener.  A workshop is an event where people get together to work on options for saving the Council money.  The have discussions and exercises to go through.”
“Exercises?  Oh, I’m not up for running on the spot or star jumps.  Not at my time of life!”
“No Convener.  They’ll be undertaking desktop exercises that help us prioritise the way that money is spent.  You see, our budget’s really about choices – we know we’ll be getting less money so it’s what we use it for that counts.  The people at the workshops help us make these decisions by comparing different council services and deciding which, in their view, need to be protected from any cuts or alternatively those that might be reduced.
“So, it’s not about me telling them what to do and then listening to what they have to say?
“Not at all Convener. That’s not the way it works this time. We want to hear ideas from the public.  That’s why the workshop gives them the opportunity to introduce their own ideas and to challenge the way things are done at present.
“You mean they’re going to tell me what to do?”
“Absolutely, Convener”
“Well that’s a new idea!  Who’s idea was that?”
“Mine Convener!”
“Oh well, don’t get too cocky about it because we’ll probably need all the ideas we can get.  Mind you, I’ve not heard any from you – can you help as well?
“Of course Convener”
“All right – lend me 20 pence for my sandwich then!”
“……..Yes Convener.”

There are still places available for the forthcoming Budget Workshops which will be held as follows;
  • Forres area - Forres Town Hall on 16 November 7-9pm
  • Buckie area- Fisherman’s Hall on 19 November 7-9pm
  • Elgin area - TA Centre on 21 November 7-9pm    
  • Keith area - Longmore Hall on 27 November 7-9pm
  • Lhanbryde area - Community Centre on 29 November 7-9pm
  • Elgin area - Bishopmill Hall on 30 November 7-9pm
  • Speyside area - Fleming Hall, Aberlour on 4 December 7-9pm
  • Lossiemouth area - Lossiemouth Town Hall on 6 December 7-9pm
Places can be booked by calling 01343 563996 or via the budget consultation section on the Council website at   If there are still places available on the night then every effort will be made to accomodate anyone who might turn up, however it should be stressed that this will be strictly on a first come first served basis and we cannot accomodate more than 64 persons at any venue. 

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