Democratic Independent Councillor Paul Johnston pressed home questions on Council monitoring reports at the powerful policy and Resources Committee meeting today (Thursday 21/6/12) and revealed that according to Council Chief Colin Mackenzie , the massive underspend of Council budgets was part of the success of “Policy led Budgeting” agreed by the ruling Conservative Alliance running Aberdeenshire Council.
Councillor Paul Johnston said: “This means there was a decision to make unplanned and deeper cuts by the Administration Councillors. The implication from the Council Chief Executive is that it is both good to massively underspend and OK that the administration misled opposition Councillors as to the real budget.”
“If it was policy led – what on earth was the policy that cuts everything from school support to grass cutting when there was no need. ” Said Councillor Johnston.
Councillor Johnston argued that the reductions in services that were not given sufficient scrutiny and risks further problems.
“If it is,as Mr Mackenzie suggested, policy led (and therefore sanctioned), how is it that the budget could not reflect that? – rather than hide the real cuts and now report the ridiculously large underspend. It was reported as £11million in January and the Conservative Alliance raised the underspend to £20million to £25million by the year end. ”
Paul Johnston said “I urge the Council Leader Jim Gifford’s Conservative Alliance not take money from local taxpayers who had an expectation of it being spent providing good public services too fill this £20 million piggy bank of unnecessary reserves in order indulge in political Vanity spending hallmark of their plans.”