Thriving communities are worth paying for

If only we had the cash. This seems to be the oft-repeated refrain in a recent edition of my local weekly newspaper, the Northern Scot, whether from our four-star tourist attraction Museum or the historic, centrally-positioned St Giles Church. We could add to this list: restoring Grant Lodge in Cooper Park, building more cycle lanes connecting our growing suburbs to the town centre, upgrading the A95 so there are no single-lane bottlenecks, opening tennis courts in Elgin free for everyone to use…

Are we missing the point? Whilst the Scottish Government whine about Westminster’s austerity programme, they have presided over eight years of a Council Tax freeze and completely failed to reform an unfair system based on property, rather than income. No wonder public services and projects are suffering so badly. We must challenge the delusion that you can have something for nothing or decent civic amenities for a pittance. If we want Elgin to flourish and thrive as a community, we need to pay for the transformation.

Still, I was excited to read that Morayvia in Forres is seeking to crowdsource funding for their proposed visitor attraction. This is a route that must surely be pursued by more charities in Moray. Crowdfunding is an excellent way to gauge people’s interest in and support of various ventures. I believe the principle should also be used routinely by Moray Council to identify the public’s priorities for spending additional funds and to seek extra revenues. Imagine if you could go on one website for Moray, check exactly what projects were being pursued, read details of how these will benefit the local area, make pledges of support as you desire and, ultimately, see the dream become a reality. Peolpe can see exactly what their investment achieves. Surely, that would be worth paying for?

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