Leading Aberdeenshire Councillor welcomes “Council U Turn?”

paulwoodhillCouncillor Paul Johnston has welcomed a report that suggests Aberdeenshire Council looks set to ‘do a U turn’ on a range of budget cuts planned to come into effect this spring.

The Democratic Independent Mid Formartine Councillor and Green Party colleague Martin Ford have identified that proposals likely to come from officials show ‘future years’ spending reductions by the Conservative led administration in November 2010 – could be recommended for reversal.

The previous Conservative cuts, mainly in education, were voted through in 2010- but the exact amount to be cut from each area in each year was decided subsequently during the Council’s normal annual budget setting process.

Amongst the cuts expected for 2013/14 to be dropped are a £547,000 cut in library spending and a further £1.105 million reduction in the budget for pupil support assistants.

The advice not to implement some of the cuts already included in the budget for 2013/14 comes from Council officers and is included in Budget Briefing Paper 3, now published on the Council website.

Aberdeenshire Democratic Independent Councillor Paul Johnston welcome to the recommendation from officers along with Councillor Ford.   “We have always opposed the Conservative led Council’s reductions in education spending.,” said Paul Johnston. “They were told back in November 2010 that some of their cuts were not only wrong, they were also undeliverable to a point where I would question the competency of the Council’s Political Administration.”

Cllr Ford said, “The important thing here is that cuts that were to be made now look unlikely. If that is what happens, it is obviously good news for those who use the services that would have been affected, and for the staff working in those areas. I will be very surprised if the administration don’t accept the officers’ advice and agree to reverse some of their own cuts.”

Councillor Ford continued: “It is odd that cuts currently included in the base budget for 2013/14 are described in Budget Briefing Paper 3 as ‘budget pressures’. The term ‘budget pressure’ would normally be used to describe a need for additional spending due, for example, to an increased demand for a service. To use it to describe an ill-considered or undeliverable planned cut that needs to be quietly reversed is an interesting use of language.”

Councillor Johnston said: “Despite the good news that officials can recommend reversing these cuts, Aberdeenshire’s ruling group leaders appear to be embarrassed by this, hiding it in a report with this curious mislabelled description..”

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