Disappointment when South Ayrshire Council was accused of ‘failing to engage with the public’ on budget plans

Residents will not be consulted directly on this year’s council budget, despite concerns about significant tax increases and service cuts.

South Ayrshire Council has refused to take advantage of council tax increases and possible service cuts despite the announcement of additional funding from the Scottish Government.

A short “consultation” video has been posted on the council’s website outlining how the council is funded and the limited funding constraints on its spending.

He goes on to explain that the consultation will focus on ‘medium to long term’ issues.

The lack of consultation comes just weeks before the council is required to make what council leader Peter Henderson has admitted are “difficult decisions” on the next budget.

Council elections will also take place in just over three months.

Councilor Henderson said council was still considering how its share of the additional £120m pledged by the Scottish government would affect potential council tax increases and cuts in services.

A council spokesman said: “Rather than just focusing on the 2022-23 budget, our planned consultation will focus on our medium- and long-term spending plans.”

Conservative caucus leader Martin Dowey says he is disappointed by the lack of commitment to budget plans.
Conservative caucus leader Martin Dowey says he is disappointed by the lack of commitment to budget plans.

Leader of the Opposition, Conservative Councilor Martin Dowey, said: “It is disappointing that the SNP and the Labor administration do not engage with the public.

“Of course, we know why. Councils have been hungry for money and can only decide how to spend 38 per cent of the money coming in.”

A video and eight-question survey about the city council’s budget plans was released last year. It ran for six weeks and closed on January 15, 2021.

This compares with a comprehensive survey and analysis produced in the first year of the current administration in 2017/18. It ran for four weeks until February 11, 2018, and received 2,793 responses, compared to 611 in 2021.

The 2017/18 consultation included a 92-page report and analysis of responses to a 68-question survey on a range of specific services and issues.

There were significantly more responses to the 2018 survey than to the 2021 survey, and the previous survey offered a variety of ways to participate, including a toll-free text number, hard copies, email, website comments, and responses from organizations. Sample comments were included with the report.

It has also been revealed that talks are continuing to determine the impact of last week’s announcement by the Scottish Government of £120m non-recurring funding for local government for 2022/23.

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Councilman Henderson said the money was well received and “what effect the additional funding will have on various budget factors, such as savings and council tax increases, is being discussed, however, it only goes a long way toward addressing the budget pressures in real terms. facing the local government.

“The non-recurring nature of the funding will mean pressures will increase again in 2023/24 by a further £120m if this one-off funding for 2022/23 is not based on local government agreement.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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