Budget decision sparks war of words

Ross - Greer- Green - West Scotland May 2016. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

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The budget allocation for North Ayrshire Council, announced as part of the Scottish government’s draft spending plans, has sparked a war of words

A revised budget announcement, taking into account an accounting error of approximately £1.4 million, further added to the discussion, which for the council, has reduced their individual allocation to a provisional total of around £270 million.

Following an agreement by the SNP and the Greens, the Scottish parliament voted last week to endorse the budget bill for the year.

While being hailed as an budget that works for Scotland by North Ayrshire SNP group leader Councillor Marie Burns, North Ayrshire Labour council leader Joe Cullinane said: ‘For the second year in a row the Greens have struck a deal which sells out local government.

‘This deal does not stop council cuts as is being spun. It does not protect local services. It does not fund pay increases for council workers. What it does is leave a £15m gap in North Ayrshire Council’s budget and that puts our local services and jobs under severe threat. This is yet another austerity budget being imposed on the communities of North Ayrshire by the SNP and the Greens.’

Jamie Greene, Conservative and Unionist MSP said: ‘After 11 years of failing to grow the economy it’s now hard working families in North Ayrshire who are footing the bill for Nicola Sturgeon’s mistakes.

But Councillor Burns saw the budget as a major boost saying: ‘Thanks to the progressive tax decisions made by the SNP Government, local government funding will increase by more than inflation and North Ayrshire Council will be allocated an extra £4.278 million to spend on local services.

‘Again the SNP and the Greens have shown that constructive dialogue between parties can lead to a budget that works for Scotland.’

Green MSP for west Scotland Ross Greer said: ‘This budget deal is a big win for North Ayrshire. For two years in a row the Greens have taken over four million pounds of proposed cuts to our local services off the table and on top of that, this year we have secured a better pay settlement for hard pressed public sector workers, the opportunity to radically improve local public transport and greater action to tackle fuel poverty. Most importantly, this means proposed cuts to librarians and classroom assistants, as well as increases in class sizes, in North Ayrshire can be ditched.’