South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway Council budget setting delay sought

Council HQ Image copyright Google

The council administration in Dumfries and Galloway is seeking to delay its budget-setting process until the end of the month.

The Labour-led authority was due to fix its spending plans for the coming financial year on Thursday.

It accepted the Scottish government's finance settlement but said it needed more time to deal with its impact.

Deputy leader Colin Smyth said he hoped that councillors would agree to postpone the budget setting process.

Leader Ronnie Nicholson has written to Finance Minister John Swinney raising concerns about the settlement which he said had been reluctantly accepted.

He claimed the alternative would mean significant additional cuts on top of those already required.

Mr Swinney has said the funding would allow local authorities and the Scottish government to pursue their "shared priorities" of improving outcomes for local people via health and social care integration and by improving educational attainment.

You have to take your time on these issues and we are not going to rush into decisions to make these significant cuts on communities in Dumfries and Galloway

Colin Smyth, Dumfries and Galloway Council deputy leader
Thinkstock

Mr Smyth said the scale of the savings needed meant the best option would be to take extra time to set the budget.

"Ultimately we will have to find £21.1m worth of savings," he said.

"Legally the council has up until 11 March to set a budget for the year ahead and to set the council tax.

"That is why we are not going to rush into making what will be really significant decisions for communities right across Dumfries and Galloway."

Reject options

He said the administration hoped to get extra time to look at the situation.

"What we will be proposing at the full council meeting on Thursday is that we look at the options that officers have provided for savings," he said.

"But we will reject those options and will reconvene on 29 February to look at some alternatives that we intend to bring forward."

He said they would aim to minimise the impact on jobs and frontline services.

"You have to take your time on these issues and we are not going to rush into decisions to make these significant cuts on communities in Dumfries and Galloway," said Mr Smyth.

"We have to get this right."

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