>> 10 February 2011

SNP councillors on Aberdeenshire Council have given notice to the ruling Tory-Lib Dem administration that they will not support any compulsory redundancies among local authority workers.

The SNP Group on the council put forward a budget amendment aiming to protect education from cuts which they said were too soon and too deep. SNP councillors also stated that any rural schools proposed for closure as a result of the council’s school estates review would only be supported by them if there were sound educational reasons for doing so and not purely as a result of budget cuts.

Commenting, SNP Group Leader Cllr Joanna Strathdee said:

“No stone can be left unturned in the quest to balance the books and the SNP Group on Aberdeenshire Council feel that front line services need to be protected, we will not support the closure of rural schools for anything other than educational grounds.

“I am sure that the residents of Aberdeenshire are pleased that they do not face a hike in council tax this coming year, under the previous Liberal-Labour coalition in Holyrood, residents in Aberdeenshire suffered a 93% hike in council tax in 11 years.

“The financial situation for the next few years is an unknown quantity but the Scottish Government have provided a framework for local authorities to work with over the next few years, they have said that we can assume we will receive flat cash settlements at the same level as this year.

“This is a very difficult situation councils have been handed as a direct result of the Westminster Government cutting £1.3billion from the Scottish budget. However, the SNP Government have protected local government in contrast to the drop in finance being made available for other areas of public expenditure.

“The budget cut to Aberdeenshire Council was lower than anticipated at 2% as opposed to the 6.4% originally expected.

“The SNP Group is absolutely committed to the principle that there should be no compulsory redundancies. We appreciate these are difficult times financially for families across Aberdeenshire and we want to minimise the effects of the Westminster cuts as far as possible, which is why I’m also delighted the council has agreed to freeze the Council Tax again for a fourth consecutive year.”

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