BUDGET: SNP express disappointment at lack of support for alternative budget

The SNP Group at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have expressed disappointment that their alternative budget did not find favour with other councillors at the budget setting meeting yesterday (Thursday).

The Comhairle approved their budget for the next two years which included the retention of £260,000 for the provision of Itinerant teachers, less savings in Home Care and some funding for the Local Area Co-ordinator for Uist and Barra which were areas highlighted as concerns by the public.

The cuts approved will include the removal of the Benbecula to Barra air service and the possible reduction of the Benbecula to Stornoway flights.

The SNP proposed an alternative budget which would have retained all these services including the Itinerant teacher service in full. They proposed staff reductions and reorganisation of the organisation as well as use of some reserve funds to cover costs.

In a statement following the meeting they stated: “The SNP Group on the Comhairle expresses disappointment that our alternative budget did not find favour with our fellow Councillors.

“We had thought our proposals such as the retention of the Barra to Benbecula air link, keeping the full complement of specialist itinerant teachers, the full funding of Penumbra, and the continuation of Trade Union representation funding would have won some of our colleagues over but it wasn’t to be.

“Our proposal to prevent most of the Comhairle cuts by using excess contingencies has been in the public domain since November but our alternative budget could only be finalised following Wednesday’s budget choices seminar and yesterday’s Policy & Resources Committee meeting as we needed to see exactly what the Comhairle was proposing as its own figures have changed over recent weeks.

We now await the reaction from the community to the cuts which will now come into effect.”