Council Leader Issues Open Letter Over Budget

Following last weeks Council Budget announcement, Leader of the Council Elaine Murray has written an open letter explaining some of what happened before and after the announcement.

 

Dear Editor

On 25th September 2018 Dumfries and Galloway agreed the recommendations of a paper by the Chief Executive on modernising the council. The included agreement on the timetable of the budget, and that proposed final budgets required to be consulted on by the Section 95 officer 5 days before Full Council and published on 26th February. I applied the agreed procedure in chairing last week’s budget meeting. Only two proposals had been submitted by 26th February, the administration’s and Councillor Scobie’s, which he later withdrew, therefore there was only one budget proposal to debate. That was our agreed procedure.

 

The Conservative group had the same opportunities as the administration  to bring forward a budget by the required date. They received the transformation board proposals at the same time as the administration, and they could easily have asked the Council’s chief officers to produce papers based on a across the board cut across directorates, as we did. For whatever reason, they chose not to do so. Instead, they responded after the budget by issuing a wish list with no indication how it would have been paid for. Hardly responsible for a group who think of themselves as an administration in waiting.

Where I did deviate from the practise of previous leaders was by accepting an amendment from the Conservative group which would have resulted in the one valid budget proposal, ours, falling and, with it, the administration. I fail to see how this was dictatorial, I recognised that we no longer have a majority on the council and the council was entitled to decide as a body that it wanted a change of direction. As it happened, our budget passed.

 No member of the administration is rejoicing at some of the decisions we had to make, these are exceeding hard time, but we have produced a fiscally competent budget which, as I said during the debate, we felt was the least worst option,

Yours sincerely

Councillor Elaine Murray

Leader, Dumfries and Galloway Council