A move to soften the blow of fast-rising burial charges has been rejected – with one councillor arguing it was unnecessary because people “only die once”.
Aberdeenshire’s infrastructure services committee yesterday approved a 25% increase in the fee – up £195 to £978 – over the next two years.
It is being introduced to plug a £525,000 shortfall in burial costs for the authority.
Committee chairman Peter Argyle admitted that it had been a difficult issue due to its “sensitivity” and that “clearly there is a lot of sympathy”.
“But we do not have a magic money tree that we can shake.”
The changes are among a raft of proposals to save money, with increased costs for animal licences, dog warden services, food hygiene courses, tattoo licences and harbour berthing fees also included.
Councillor Martin Ford said: “None of us wants to put up the pricing, but somewhere in the system alternative savings would be favourable.”
Arguing against a suggestion that the increase be phased in across four years instead of two, Mr Ford added: “We only die once – a gradual increase doesn’t seem essential.”
Another decision on whether to charge communities for the electricity to power their Christmas lights was put on hold until May for fresh reports.
After another public consultation, the decriminalisation of parking enforcement will now not proceed, but instead will be subject to a review “in a few years”.
Mr Argyle agreed that a business case “had not been made” at this time.
There will now be a public consultation on the review of parking tariffs across the authority including either the removal or standardisation of free parking periods along with price rises.
Huntly currently does not benefit from any free parking time, but instead “motorists must pay 60p to pop into a shop”, said Councillor Robbie Withy.
“A lot of people in Huntly are being treated unfairly,” he added.
Members agreed that existing council-owned parking ticket machines would become cash only with the option of using the pay-by-phone method of payment.