Cross party consensus for East Ayrshire budget

Collaboration was the theme for this year’s budget as elected members from all parties today (Thursday 22 February 2018) agreed a wide range of proposals, setting the 2018/19 East Ayrshire Council budget.

Cross party agreement gave way to local communities as political leaders put their differences aside to deliver a budget which will look after the most vulnerable people in East Ayrshire, protect local assets, respond to community needs and tackle the current condition of local roads following recent episodes of severe weather.

Councillor Douglas Reid explained: “I am extremely heartened by the level of collaboration shown by my fellow members across the Council in reaching a consensus budget today.

“It demonstrates a clear and common commitment in our determination to tackle some of the most pressing needs in our communities which transcend politics.

“Uniquely for the Council, we have recognised the realities and opportunities of a minority administration and we worked together to finalise a budget for the people of East Ayrshire that includes elements that matter to each of the parties. This is a model for minority administrations in councils across Scotland.

“By working collaboratively we will be able to create a fairer, kinder and connected East Ayrshire as we look at ways of working with, involving and empowering our local communities.

“Our 2018/19 budget is in balance, we will not use uncommitted reserves for recurring costs, efficiency savings will have no significant impact on services or policies and the Scottish Government’s requirements have been met.”

Councillor John McGhee, Leader of the Labour Group added: “In supporting this budget, I recognise the fact of three distinct political groups working in conjunction and would like to express my appreciation to Councillors Reid and Cook – and the officers involved – in providing assistance and knowledge.

“This has been a change of approach for all of us, as we work together to meet the challenges that lie ahead, delivering a fairer, kinder and more connected East Ayrshire for everyone.”

Councillor Tom Cook, Leader of the Conservative Group said: “I welcome this collaborative approach and the opportunity to contribute to discussions to reach a budget proposal that is acceptable to all.

“This has meant putting our political differences to one side to reach a consensus and produce a balanced Council budget which is in the best interest of all East Ayrshire residents.”

Key budget highlights include:

• £6 million in for road repairs for the coming year.
• £160k for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) and Council of Voluntary Organisations (CVO) to support the most vulnerable
• £72k for the provision of free sanitary products for pupils in schools across East Ayrshire
• 3% increase in Council Tax
• 1.5% / £1.06 increase in weekly rent

This one year budget for 2018/19 is essentially a holding position to allow plans to be finalised for the Council’s Transformation Strategy, which will be presented for consideration to full Council in June. A series of work streams have been developed, based on feedback from the recent Vibrant Voices consultation and these will focus on redesigning services; realigning the workforce; seeking digital solutions; continuing to rationalise the Council’s property portfolio and looking at new ways of generating income.

Councillor Reid concluded: “As we embrace the next phase of our transformation journey, I will continue to seek – and welcome – input from colleagues, employees and communities as we unite to make sure East Ayrshire remains a fantastic place to learn, work and live.”

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