A huge outpouring of support from Moray campaigners could be about to save leisure services in the region.
Locals were urged to sign up for the council’s Fit Life loyalty scheme in order to protect swimming pools in Lossiemouth and Keith from budget cuts.
Now it has been revealed that the amount of sign-ups may not only save the facilities but also the popular Active Schools programme as well.
A total of 200 people have joined the loyalty card in the last week following a “use it or lose it” warning by the authority’s SNP administration.
More than £10 million worth of cuts have already been put forward by the council but there is still a multi-million-pound black hole in the books with bankruptcy looming before the end of the year.
However, council leader Graham Leadbitter believes it is now “almost certain” that the leisure service sign-ups will provide enough backing to keep the swimming pools open.
He said: “The response has been absolutely phenomenal. Communities across Moray have come out in substantial numbers to support leisure services, recognising we can all support each other and mitigate the risk to them.
“As well as strong sign-ups in Lossiemouth in Keith, where the pools are at risk, there has also been a strong response in Buckie, Forres and other communities. That speaks volumes for the combined community spirit.
“The budget is a massive challenge but I am confident that with the combined efforts of everyone involved the cuts don’t have to be as severe.”
More than 1,500 people have already signed a petition urging the council to save the Active Schools scheme, which teaches children sports and physical activities as well as showing parents how to coach them.
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An extra 300 Fit Life signups will deliver a funding boost of about £100,000 to leisure services, which currently rely on an annual subsidy of more than £500,000 to operate.
Members of Lossiemouth Community Council are holding events at the local Co-op store and community centre over the weekend to promote the drive.
Chairman Mike Mulholland said: “We’re certainly going to keep going, we’re not going to stop. Getting out there is also a good chance for us to hear what people think about the other cuts too like school crossing patrollers.
“It’s encouraging to see how many people have come out already, particularly outside Lossiemouth and Keith. The pools are secure in Buckie and Forres but people obviously still care.”
Councillors will meet on February 27 to agree the final budget proposals.