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Opposition outline their position on council's budget

By David Porter

Aberdeenshire Council’s SNP/Labour and Communities opposition group presented their budget at yesterday's meeting of the Full Council.

Councillor Richard Thomson
Councillor Richard Thomson

Among the funding priorities announced by the Partnership Group were an additional £850,000 for community resilience to tackle poverty and hunger; to combat social isolation; to improve health and well-being and focus on suicide prevention; and to support small business start-ups.

A further £850,000 was budgeted to help tackle climate change through development of innovative local schemes with community involvement - including community led energy efficient housing schemes; green space projects/tree planting; community composting; renewable energy projects and the sharing of best practice.

Over £280,000 was earmarked for participatory budgeting to support the development of community transport and active travel and initial work on transport hubs. Amounts were also included to introduce decriminalised parking enforcement, restoring the Area Committee budgets for local initiatives to £104,000, and also becoming an accredited Living Wage employer.

Introducing the budget proposals, councillor Alison Evison said: “We find ourselves in unprecedented and highly uncertain times, and so we proposed our opposition budget today knowing that the Council may be forced to stop doing some things, and start to work in a totally new way.

"Flexibility will be key in the coming days, weeks and months.

“The budget which we have proposed is one which promotes equality and social justice, seeks to tackle poverty, develops connectivity, promotes local businesses, protects our workforce with a living wage accreditation, provides the security of no compulsory redundancies, helps to close the attainment gap, and supports the vulnerable.

“Running through our priorities is a strong commitment to participatory budgeting – ensuring that communities can have a direct say in some of the spending of the local authority and putting an emphasis on the importance of the priorities of the communities we serve.”

Councillor Richard Thomson, Leader of the Opposition, added: “It has become increasingly clear over the last few days that there will be no ‘business as usual’ for the Council, and our priority in these difficult times must be to protect our most vulnerable.

“Our budget represents strongly our priorities and the direction we believe that Aberdeenshire Council must take once business returns to normal.

"We have been clear in our commitments to protecting our communities, our workforce, and the climate.

"Today was not the day to argue these points, but we must – and will – return to these issues as soon as we are able.”

The incumbent Adminsitrations budget was voted through 34 to 19 with three no votes

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