‘Underspend’ or ‘within budget’...

Woodhill House. Copyright Colin Walker

Woodhill House. Copyright Colin Walker

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Aberdeenshire Council members will hear this week that it has £26.4 million still left in it’s coffers from last year’s budget.

The ruling Aberdeenshire Alliance coalition claims an economic victory with the sum, saying it shows an efficient council spending taxpayer’s money in the right places.

Opposition SNP members say the money should all have been spent on the area.

An SNP source told the Piper that the group was ‘keeping it’s powder dry’ on the issue and would make comments following Thursday’s meeting.

Provost Jill Webster told the Piper: “Gone are the days when a budget was allocated and it had to be spent on that budget item before the year end come what may. The Council have taken a proactive approach to budget management and budget holders in services have been given the ability to manage their budgets in a much more efficient way... it has meant that we have been able to divert resources to areas of priority. For example we have put £12million towards the provision of much needed Broadband infrastructure services in Aberdeenshire from the £26million.”

She was backed by Alliance Councillor Karen Clark: “This is a positive financial position and the budget has come in exactly as forecast. The healthy level of funding has given us the flexibility throughout the year to be able to choose where to invest substantially in services which are our priorities. As Chair of Social Work and Housing I know that demand for our care services is growing so I am delighted that our careful financial management has meant that we can respond to these pressures.”

Opposition Councillor Geva Blackett highlighted that there was a similar underspend last year and said: “I will be listening with interest to the explanations provided in Full Council on Thursday”

Facebook friends of the Piper have also got in touch, their comments are on page 35. Councillors will meet at Aberdeen’s Woodhill House to debate the issue on Thursday (June 27).