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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Highland Council’s Budget Cuts “Mere Crocodile Tears”

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Highlands & Islands Greens have today denounced Highland Council’s planned public consultation on budget cuts as a charade. (1)

Donnie Macleod, Highlands and Islands Greens’ Westminster election candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey said: “The Lib Dem-led Highland Council is merely crying crocodile tears over their proposed budget cuts.  It’s time for them to dry their eyes and think again about these unjustified plans.

“Even the consultation is a charade.  The Council is mainly proposing to axe ‘soft’ services, including facilities the community relies upon like schools, libraries, and swimming pools.  One of their most hare-brained proposals is to close the excellent Floral Hall in Inverness, which is the ‘jewel in the crown’ and costs peanuts to run.  In contrast, the budget for new roads is left virtually untouched.

“For example, only a few weeks ago the Council merrily lent a property developer £1·25 million to help build the Airport Link Road.  Even more amazingly, this came in advance of planning permission being granted for the adjacent airport business park.  I don’t recall the public being consulted about that massive waste of their money.

“Furthermore, the Council is planning to spend almost £3 million on the Inverness Trunk Road Link; no cuts there, though much of this project is patently unnecessary.  And the Council is quite happy to see £40 million of public money ploughed into a new road as part of its A96 corridor proposals.

“In February, The Highland Council agreed an initial round of cuts — again, soft targets, and again, no consultation, focused mainly on education and community care.  Changes to the roads budget were billed as cuts, but were simply a transfer of £2 million between the Council’s revenue and capital budgets.

“Budgets are under pressure, and not everything can be funded.  But the public should be properly consulted about spending priorities, not just presented with a list of key services the Lib Dems are determined to slash while protecting their pet roads schemes.”

Notes:

(1) See www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/blog/.