>> 14 February 2017
One vote was all that prevented the closure of the swimming pool at Bracoden School, Gamrie, last week when the SNP-Labour-Progressive Independent Administration of Aberdeenshire Council got their budget accepted by councillors.
A move by Tory, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors to vote through an alternative budget was defeated 32-31. Contained within that were plans to save money by closing school swimming pools at Bracoden and Mackie Academy
Troup SNP councillor Ross Cassie welcomed the Administration’s budget and said he was relieved that Bracoden would not be losing its pool and expressed surprise that local councillors Mark Findlater (Conservative) and Hamish Partridge (Independent) has supported such a move. He commented:
“Locally, I’m delighted that education services will be protected. Teachers, Special Education and Pupil Support Assistant and Early Learning and Child Care and music tuition budgets were all protected. The swimming pool at Bracoden School – which is there because the local community fundraised for it many years ago – would have closed if the Tories and Independents had won the vote. I’m very surprised that my local Tory and Independent colleagues supported this.
“Waste collections will continue as at present and garden waste skips will be maintained where they are currently sited. The mini Household Waste and Recycling Centre in Gardenstown will be retained. All of these were also voted against by my fellow ward councillors.
“Supporting Business and Economic Development was also a priority. A £3million fund was set up and will be made available to businesses that have been affected by the recent business rate revaluation. We also added a new budget line amounting to £250,000 to support tourist sites such as Macduff Marine Aquarium. Again the Tory led Alliance and my two fellow ward councillors voted against these proposals.
“The Tory Alliance proposed in their budget no increase in council tax that despite years of complaining that they were not allowed to increase. They refused to take the opportunity when it is there.
“It is clear to see where people’s priorities are. Those who voted to accept our partnership budget value our communities, listen to our communities and deliver to our communities. Those who opposed it offered no solutions or policies, just scorched earth for our communities and little or no meaningful future for the younger members of our society.”