- Eliminating poverty and inequality must be the top economic priority.
- Tackling inequality and solving the climate crisis are essentially the same thing – the benefits of new green technologies must be shared fairly across society, and the economic costs of solving the climate crisis must not fall exclusively on today’s young people.
- Economic development must be sustainable, reflect the character of our communities, and leave a liveable planet for our children to inherit.
- Adoption and implementation of a Community Wealth Building Strategy.
- Developing Moray’s low carbon economy and sharing the benefits across society.
- Establishment of local training schemes to develop skilled work opportunities.
- Regeneration and development of town centres.
As we emerge from COVID-19 we need to build an economy that is strong, resilient, and fair. That is why Labour Councillors will propose a new Community Wealth Building strategy – modelled on the highly successful strategies implemented by forward-thinking Labour Councils such as Preston, Islington, and North Ayrshire. Community Wealth Building is about working in partnership with communities and businesses to build a strong local economy which supports fair work, encourages local spend and uses the land and property we own for the common good so that wealth stays local. Labour Councillors will prioritise local procurement by ensuring that businesses in Moray get the best opportunity to bid for local contracts. Taking this approach will mean that council funding is maximised to deliver quality services while supporting good local employment and businesses. Labour councillors will also support alternate business models, such as co-operatives and social enterprises.
We will make financial power work for our places, recirculating the wealth that exists in Moray. We will encourage residents to buy local and support their towns and villages and we will promote the credit union movement. We will work towards the socially productive use of land and property. We want the land and assets we collectively own to contribute to the renewal of Moray and to help us build vibrant local communities.
We will build a stronger local economy through the progressive procurement of goods and services. We will make council procurement more accessible for small business. We will identify wider barriers to sustainable, local procurement and work to address them.
Community Wealth Building will be particularly important during the delivery phases of the Moray Growth Deal and Elgin City Centre Masterplan. Labour Councillors will work to ensure that money spent in delivering these projects stays within the Moray economy.
Taking a ‘local first’ approach to sourcing goods and services will also help reduce carbon emissions and help us reach our net zero targets.
Moray remains the one of the lowest waged economies in Scotland. Labour Councillors will actively encourage inward investment in Moray to produce more and better paid jobs which are badly needed in Moray.
We will also seek to grow the economy locally through investment in skills and training. While it was once the case that local authorities trained their own skilled workers, councils have become increasingly reliant upon ready-made workers from universities. Labour Councillors will seek to re-establish Moray Council training schemes, to encourage workers to develop their skills locally. Not only will this reduce unemployment in Moray; it will also drive up the skills base, and therefore the value, of the local economy.
Labour Councillors will continue to support a real living wage for all Council employees and contractors. This in turn will benefit the local economy by encouraging pay rises in the private sector.
While the Elgin Business Improvement District has made great strides in improving the town centre, the High Street remains a shadow of its former self. We believe that poor transport links to Elgin town centre, including the poor condition of Elgin Bus Station, diminish Elgin’s attractiveness as a place to shop. Similarly, the withdrawal of all of the major banks in Forres has had a deleterious effect on the High Street. Labour will continue to support Elgin BID and will consult on establishing BIDs in other towns. We will support creative ways of filling vacant shops including pop-up shops, community hubs and social enterprises. Our proposals for improving transport are given in the Transport section of this manifesto.
Moray Labour believes the Council has been too quick to approve out-of-town shopping developments without adequate consideration for the future of town centres. Not only have these developments had a deleterious effect on town centres – Elgin in particular – many of these developments remain only partially occupied. Labour Councillors will vigorously enforce a presumption against out-of-town retail planning applications unless a compelling case to the contrary exists.
Moray is well-placed to benefit from the move to net zero. New offshore wind developments and hydrogen hubs have the potential to provide employment and affordable green energy to power the local economy, while our forests and peatlands will generate wealth as part of the emerging carbon credit market. Unfortunately, the SNP government’s failures to develop our local turbine-building capacity, create binding supply chain commitments through the ScotWind auction, and carry out meaningful land reform mean that many of these benefits will go primarily to large overseas companies and wealthy landowners. Labour Councillors will use every opportunity to develop Moray’s low carbon economy and ensure that wealth created in Moray is shared equitably, benefitting our communities.
Moray Labour will continue to back the Council’s development of a Hydrogen Strategy for Moray – with particular focus on green hydrogen produced from excess wind power.