Council budget pressures show missed chances

An opportunity to avoid future council cuts is being squandered, according to Democratic Independent and Scottish Green Party Aberdeenshire councillors.

They claim budget pressures facing Aberdeenshire Council underline how helpful the additional income would now be, had the council’s coalition administration taken forward the plan to generate significant ongoing additional income for the council put forward in recent years’ budget proposals from the Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG).

DIGG has proposed using money from the council’s repeated large budget underspends to invest in a mix of renewable energy generation, thereby converting the surplus cash into an on-going revenue stream that could be used to fund council services for years to come.

DIGG’s renewables investment package included in the group’s proposed 2013/14 Aberdeenshire revenue budget was predicted to yield an annual income for the council of over £3.5 million after meeting all financing costs. Green councillor Martin Ford said: “Recent years have seen the council end each financial year with a significant budget underspend, while at the same time the council’s coalition administration has been cutting public services and warning of more cuts in the years ahead.

“Using money from the underspends to invest in renewable energy would have been a way of protecting services against future cuts, by providing the council with additional annual income.”

Group leader Paul Johnston added: “Aberdeenshire Council’s coalition administration has failed to use the opportunity it has had to use investment in renewables to provide long-term benefit to the council and Aberdeenshire residents. Even the limited commitment the administration has made to investing in wind energy is still to come to fruition.”