Lib Dem Budget Supported Education, Infrastructure & Local Communities

Town HouseOn 5th February 2015 Aberdeen City Council passed its General Fund and Common Good Budgets for 2015/16. This essentially covers everything except Council housing, which was dealt with in December.

All Parties were agreed on over 99% of the £455 million expenditure on essential services, with the different groups proposing alternative spending priorities for the remainder. The Liberal Democrats prioritised education, roads resurfacing, potholes, street lighting and the gritting/clearing of roads and pavements in winter.

The Lib Dem proposals on Education, which were rejected by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors offered additional funding to every school in the city based upon their school roll. It was for head teachers to use this where they saw the greatest need.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Had this proposal been accepted, it would have resulted in an addition £12,807 going to our primary schools, consisting of £4,384 for Kingswells, £2,995 for Kingsford, £2,762 for Fernielea and £2,706 for Muirfield. Secondary education was not forgotten either with an additional £6,689 earmarked for Hazlehead and £4,472 for Bucksburn. At just £200,000 for the whole city, this represented an affordable investment in our children’s future”.

The Liberal Democrats, acknowledging the Council’s inability to keep our roads and pavements clear of snow and (more importantly) ice during a fairly mild winter, also put forward proposals to help address the deficiency. They proposed additional staff and equipment to grit an extra 12.5 miles of pavements AND 12.5 miles of side roads/cul-de-sacs on a “normal” snowy day. During the rest of the year these staff would be deployed to undertake an additional 6,000 road surface treatments/pothole repairs. This was a fully costed proposal which was affordable to the Council, but rejected by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors.

As in previous years the Lib Dem Group proposed an additional £2 million expenditure in our crumbling infrastructure. This would have delivered an additional 5.5 miles of road resurfacing, or 5.5 miles of pavement resurfacing or 1,333 lighting columns or a combination of these to best meet priorities within our communities.

Steve Delaney said,”I was advised by officials a couple of years ago that £20 million of investment is needed per year for the next 10 years to bring our infrastructure up to scratch. Aberdeen’s Labour led Council spends about 20% of what’s needed each year, allowing our roads and pavements to further deteriorate with little hope of being resurfaced in the short term. Sadly this is not a priority for them”.

The Liberal Democrats also put forward proposals to set aside £250,000 from the Common Good Fund to make awards of up to £15,000 to local organisations to support projects which would deliver long term benefit to communities. In fairness, many councillors, cross-Party saw merit in this approach but other than the Lib Dem members, none were willing to support them when it came to the vote.