Independent group vows to fight proposed Highland budget cuts

Councillor Carolyn Wilson
Councillor Carolyn Wilson

Highland Council’s Independent group has unanimously agreed to fight the administration’s proposed budget cuts claiming they would have “devastating impacts” on local communities.

Opposition leader councillor Carolyn Wilson said the SNP-Lib Dem-Labour coalition’s proposals – which she described as “horrendous” – were discussed at a meeting of her group in Inverness yesterday.

The council needs to make savings of £64million over the next four years and has just completed a public budget consultation exercise.

Mrs Wilson said: “Having seen some of the proposals that will be coming forward in December, we realised they would be completely unpalatable for the Highland community.

“And we feel it is our duty to make sure we put forward peoples’ feelings about this and protect the frontline services that would be affected.”

She was unable to provide information on the proposed cuts at this stage, but insisted there were other ways to make savings that would be less detrimental.

Mrs Wilson said: “We will do everything in our power to fight these cuts to protect vital frontline services, such as education, swimming pools, libraries and winter gritting.”

She said the Independent group would soon release details of alternative budget savings.

The council’s budget leader councillor Maxine Smith said the administration was listening to people and would be considering the final analysis of the consultation next week.

She said: “We fully expect to be making some changes to the budget savings proposals, as we constantly seek to juggle other revenue streams internally and also maximise the council’s income as quickly as possible.”

She added that she would be happy to discuss the “sensible proposals” the opposition had for “alternative savings to the tune of £64million”.