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Councillors Voice Grave Concerns

>> 10 August 2012

Fraserburgh councillors Charles Buchan and Brian Topping are angry about Fraserburgh and District not getting its fair share of the 100 day pledge money, and having their proposals not accepted by Banff and Buchan.

Banff and Buchan has been told to submit proposals for spending some of the £20 million windfall money, underspent in Aberdeenshire's budget due to the over-severe cuts. The Tory/Independents/LibDem coalition administration calls this the "100 day pledge" money.

This money, which for some unknown reason has to be allocated within 100 days, has to be spent by April 2014, and has suddenly been discovered, as the Administration's accountants have found that far too many jobs and services have been cut. Many Fraserburgh people employed by the Council have had their hours of work cut, jobs have disappeared, community groups and organisations such as the Heritage Centre and other big tourist attractions hace had Council support withdrawn, and council vacancies have been left unfilled.

Vital front-line services in education, social work and housing have been cut. some services we have been accustomed to have been withdrawn, or service quality diminished. Planning and Valuation posts have been left unfilled, resulting in a slowdown in processing applications and reviews, to the detriment of business employment, especially in the building trade. The non-replacement of vacant posts has produced increased stress and strain on the remaining employees, again resulting in poorer service to the public.

Fraserburgh, Inverallochy, Cairnbulg, Rathen, and Memsie should get their fair share of the surplus capital. Our people have suffered more than anywhere else in Banff and Buchan from the Local Authority cuts.

However, despite the large differences in population, the majority of the proposals under consideration appear to be from Banff and District.

Brian and Charles want our district to get its fair share of this resource, to be used for the benefit of the people in our district, to benefit our older people , to give opportunities to our sometimes disaffected young people, to help in the regeneration of our town centre, to improve our tourism offer, and our historic buildings, to improve the environment of our towns and villages, to help bring in new business, and employment and investment, to improve town centre security, to have a proper cemetary car park, to upgrade footpaths in our villages, and to ensure there is enough industrial land for new business.

Remember, this unspent money does not belong to the Council; it came from the Council Tax payers, the Business Rates, and taxes.

Charles and Brian expressed their anger at recent meetings with councillors and Local Planning Group Officers, about the precipitous rush at which this is being pushed through, even through the dead-line for completing the spend is not until April 2014.
  • Why is this being done during the summer holiday period, when many key personnel are unavailable due to holiday commitments?
  • Why is the wider community, including our Community Councils and business organisations, not being consulted.
  • Why were proposals from Charles and Brian not invited, and when they were produced they were deemed to be "too late"?
Brian and Charles would urge the people with ideas for spending this one-off capital windfall, despite the so-called deadline being past, to quickly approach the Banff and Buchan Area Manager, at St. Leanords, Sandyhill Road, Banff, and let the Chief Executive, Colin Mackenzie, and the Leader of the Administration, Jim Gifford, at Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, know about the community's feelings about this indecent and ill-considered rush to spend this windfall.

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