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Moray setting out on road to recovery, says council leader

By Alistair Whitfield

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Moray Council's leader has set out some of the challenges as individuals and organisations pull together to begin recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter pictured before the lockdown.
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter pictured before the lockdown.

Graham Leadbitter (Elgin South, SNP) has written to both the UK & Scottish governments highlighting the particular challenges facing Moray, which has several key sectors that will be particularly hard hit by the current crisis.

He said: "Recent analysis by the Scottish Government’s chief economist shows that Moray has the highest percentage of jobs in sectors that are at significant risk as a result of the Covid19 crisis.

"While we should be rightly concerned by that it does not mean that we cannot make a strong recovery.

"What it does mean is that we have to pay close attention to those sectors that have the most risk.

"It will be obvious to most people that sectors such as tourism and hospitality are at particular risk when they have been unable to trade for a major part of the year.

"The construction sector is always hit hard in an economic downturn while other sectors focus on recovery and hold off on investment in new buildings.

"There are also significant issues for the oil and gas sector.

"While most of those jobs are outside Moray the number of people who live in Moray and work in those jobs is significant.

"Key Moray industries, particularly exporting industries like food manufacture, fishing and farming, had already expressed major concerns about the impact of Brexit.

"The double whammy of Brexit and Covid19 for those businesses needs to be addressed.

"The UK Government has the option to delay Brexit negotiations and focus on the Covid19 impact."

Cllr Leadbitter continued: "Another significant area of work will be ensuring positive destinations for young people, who will find it harder to get into employment in these circumstances.

"These are all things that we will work on collectively through bodies like the Moray Economic Partnership, assessing impacts and the best actions to support recovery.

"All of this is a worry and a concern, especially for people employed in the sectors that are likely to be hardest hit and the recovery period will challenge us all.

"We do, however, have a fantastic region and a job of work to do to ensure it continues to be fantastic.

"Local communities and businesses have responded amazingly to the crisis with whisky and gin distillers producing hand sanitiser as a great example of that.

"Local businesses are finding new ways of working and opening up with distancing and other safety measures and we now have a provisional reopening date of July 15 to work towards for our tourism and hospitality sector.

"The fact that many businesses are locally owned and family-based also gives optimism about their commitment to Moray and recovery.

"We will do as much as we can to support those businesses.

"We are working on different ways of using our open spaces in towns to help businesses operate and keep the public safe by creating enough space for people to move around and maintain distancing.

"We need to make sure that the employees feel safe in their work environment, that communities feel safe with the measures being put in place and that visitors feel safe and welcome.

"Tourism jobs are a mainstay in Moray, especially in rural areas.

"As tourism opens for business again in the coming weeks they will need everyone’s support to do that in the best possible way.

"I have written to both the Scottish and UK governments highlighting the particular economic risks facing Moray and seeking their support to meet those challenges head on.

"We have a great deal of work to do to ensure that Moray’s recovery is strong and sustained.

"With partnership work on the Moray Growth Deal, a creative approach from the public sector in areas such as the use of outdoor space in our towns and supporting people into different job opportunities where that is necessary, we can make that strong and sustainable recovery a reality."

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