Uk news South Lanarkshire Council ready to set budget after four parties agree deal PremierLeague-News.Com
MetiNews.Com - There will not be as many budget cuts as first feared
Breaking News ! Council tax will be frozen across South Lanarkshire and there will be no changes to school transport after councillors thrashed out a budget deal. The local authority is today expected to approve a cross-party £800million deal, after more than a month of negotiations between political parties. Originally, the council had been anticipating having to implement millions of pounds of cuts. However, they were able to avoid that after extra investment from the Scottish Government. That meant that several potential cutbacks were able to be safeguarded. Council tax will be frozen; there will be no reduction to the current free school transport entitlement; no change to the provision of a free nursery place from a child’s third birthday and no reduction to winter gritting – all topics that caused concern among local residents when possible cuts were discussed. The council is also set to approve several recovery packages aimed at helping the region bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic. Ploughing and gritting at East Kilbride bus station (Image: Daily Record) A sum of £2m has been earmarked for an education recovery fund to help children and young people overcome the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions on their education and wellbeing, while a £3m Get South Lanarkshire Working fund will go towards supporting local businesses and jobs. A new £2m climate change fund to improve and protect local environments has also been earmarked, with a further £2m worth of funds going towards the maintenance and repair of both roads and pavements. The SNP, Tories, Liberal Democrats and the Independent group were all involved in the talks. The Labour group refused to participate. Councillor Margaret Cooper Councillor Margaret Cooper of the independent group chaired the cross-party group. She said: “It is never easy for groups to overcome their differences, but politicians need to be willing to put the public interest before party politics. “From the point of view of the Independent Group, we wanted to protect education as well as community and enterprise resources. “We were also determined to keep providing free nursery places from a child’s third birthday and not go back to the situation where many children had to wait months for the next term. “This cross-party budget achieves these things. It is a very positive outcome.” Council Leader John Ross, the head of the SNP group, was pleased to see the budget finalised and said: “While there are huge differences between us, the political makeup of the council means that compromise is necessary. “I would like to thank the opposition groups that engaged in the cross-party talks over the past few months and worked hard a reach a consensus in the best interests of everyone across South Lanarkshire.
.” Liberal Democrat Group leader Councillor Robert Brown said: “The council budget deal is a tribute to good cross-party partnership – from which the Scottish and UK Governments could learn lessons. “The Liberal Democrats had three main aims. By behaving like grown-ups, talking to our opponents and making a forceful case we have achieved them. “We secured extra funding that will kickstart support to help children and young people overcome the damage done to their education and wellbeing by the pandemic.
Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Councillor, Robert Brown.
“More of the deteriorating pavements in our local communities will now be resurfaced. “Our new Get South Lanarkshire Working and Climate Change funds will target vital economic recovery and help protect the environment.
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“I want South Lanarkshire to lead the country with our Covid recovery programme and this budget is a step towards that.” Conservative Group leader Councillor Alex Allison is also pleased with the outcome from the discussions and said: “The huge challenges brought about by the coronavirus has made it even more important for council groups to put aside party politics and work together. “Under the current circumstances, the Conservative Group believes this to be a good budget that protects key services and supports our communities during this difficult time.” Joe Fagan, the leader of the Labour group at the council, hit out at the process involved in the budget. He blasted: “For two months cuts to breakfast clubs, lunch clubs and to the council’s Free at 3 early years provision have been hanging over South Lanarkshire. “It’s astonishing that the other parties are only now ruling it out. “Labour were clear that we would not participate in cross-party budget talks while the worst cuts to the poorest and youngest in South Lanarkshire remained on the table.
Councillor Joe Fagan
(Image: East Kilbride News)
“It is time for a budget that delivers real help now for the people who need it most in South Lanarkshire.” Councillors are set to approve the proposed cross-party budget at a virtual meeting of the full council today (Wednesday, February 24).
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