Stormy meeting over East Dunbartonshire Council’s £8m budget shortfall

East Dunbartonshire Council HQ 'Kirkintilloch'20 01 18'KG
East Dunbartonshire Council HQ 'Kirkintilloch'20 01 18'KG

Matters got heated at the latest full meeting of East Dunbartonshire Council as members face a budget shortfall of almost £8 million.

A report from chief finance officer Jamie Robertson frevealed that EDC will need to find £7.7m in savings even if it implements a recommended council tax increase of three per cent.

Council joint leader Vaughan Moody (Lib Dem, Bearsden South) said the council had to use its own resources to fund more and more services.

Council leader, Andrew Polson, (Con, Bearsden South) led an attack on the SNP Government and its local elected member, saying all local party leaders had signed a letter highlighting the area’s budget problems to finance secretary Derek MacKay, with the exception of SNP group leader Gordan Low (Bishopbriggs South).

Councillor Low said: “I am not going to be lectured by a party whose own proposals would have cut £500m out of the local government budget.”

Another Tory, Billy Hendry (Bishopbriggs North and Campsie) joined the attack on the SNP Group.He asked Cllr Low: “As the main SNP representative for East Dunbartonshire Council, the constituents of this area have a right to know – what are you going to do to get us a better deal?”

Earlier, in response to Cllr Polson’s accusation that the council’s former SNP administration, which dissolved in December 2017, represented the party “running away” from power, Cllr Low said: “The SNP did not run away. We could not achieve a workable majority due to the alliance between your parties (Lib Dems and Tories). You wanted to run the administration, now you have to deal with the consequences.”

Much was also made at the meeting over the fact that two MSPs, who had been invited to attend the council’s next budget meeting, had declined, stating they would be in Parliament at the time.

Speaking after the meeting, Milngavie SNP MSP Gil Paterson accused the administration of “petty party political games” to shift blame for forthcoming cutbacks.

He said: “It is not surprising that this Tory/Liberal Democrat administration are trying to distance themselves from the inevitable consequences of their UK colleagues austerity measures. Last year they refused to take official control of the council until the budget process was completed despite the fact they had forced out the minority SNP administration several months earlier.

“It is a bit worrying this administration thinks it is a good idea to play games with the budget process instead of focusing on the job in hand. By inviting myself and my colleague Rona Mackay MSP for Strathkelvin & Bearsden to a council meeting knowing full well we would be in the Scottish Parliament at that time can only be construed as an attempt to discredit us in some childish way with the public.”