Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors combined to vote down an attempt by Peterhead South and Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith to reform the way in which Peterhead Common Good Fund - and other trusts and common good funds across Aberdeenshire – are administered by the council.
Currently, due to the low base rate, the administration charge levied by Aberdeenshire Council against the Common Good Funds of burghs such as Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Rosehearty and Macduff is double that of the annual interest income.
Councillor Smith, seconded by Councillor Strathdee, moved that the charges for the costs of administering trusts and common good funds should not exceed the income generated by those funds.
As an amendment, Councillor Gifford, seconded by Councillor Argyle, moved that the council should continue with the current method of recharging the costs of administration of trusts and common good funds.
The move by the Peterhead councillor was narrowly defeated on a vote by 33-30.
The eight Buchan councillors voting for the motion were cllrs Allan (SNP), Coull (Ind), Howie (Ind), McRae (SNP), Pratt (SNP), N Smith (Ind), S Smith (SNP) and Stronach (SNP).
Councillors Chapman (Con) and Thomas (Con) voted for the amendment, while. indepdendent councillor councillor Alan Buchan did not attend the meeting.
Commenting after the meeting of the full vouncil, Cllr Stephen Smith said: “While it was disappointing to lose the vote so narrowly, the argument was won and this issue will be raised again in the future.
“At the moment, because the Peterhead Common Good Fund only distributes grants from its income, there is no money to do so because the administration charge levied by the council more than wipes that out.
“That cannot be right and it was clear from listening to other speakers during today’s debate that the current position is not sustainable and I expect we will see some changes brought forward after the elections.”
Councillor Stuart Pratt, who has also attempted to have the charging policy changed in the past, added: “Common Good Funds are for the benefit of the common good, and shouldn’t be run for the benefit of Aberdeenshire Council.
“Today’s vote was very close and produced near-unanimity amongst all Peterhead councillors who took the matter seriously enough to be bothered to turn up. I’m now hopeful that we will see some changes in the near future.”