Councillors keen to prevent cuts

DIGG Councillor Martin Ford
DIGG Councillor Martin Ford

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors are calling for cross-party agreement to protect education and other key council services from spending cuts.

A report at Aberdeenshire’s November full council meeting estimated savings of £20 million were required to balance Aberdeenshire’s revenue budget for 2019/20.

Following last week’s announcement of some additional funding for local government, Cllr Paul Johnston said: “The announcement of improvements to the council settlement is very welcome but it falls a long way short of what is required to prevent cuts.

“Whilst the exact figures are still to be worked out, savings of at least £20 million are still going to be needed to balance next year’s budget. This is one of the toughest budgets I can remember, and that is still true, even with the changes now announced.”

The Democratic Independent and Green Group tabled a balanced draft budget proposal at the November full council meeting.

Since then, the Group have updated their budget proposals and had a draft balanced revenue budget ready.

“Cllr Martin Ford said: “The Council has no choice but to make savings. But councillors do have a choice about how that is done. We know it is possible to avoid cuts to teaching or pupil support assistant posts next year and, for example, to protect local bus services.

“If all councillors who are opposed to such cuts agree they won’t vote for them, they won’t happen. The DIGG councillors are more than happy to give an absolute commitment not to vote to cut teaching posts or pupil support assistant positions, or, come to that, local bus services. We hope, across parties, other councillors will take the same stance.”