Council proposal for new budget powers shelved
Finance: Leaders won’t push ahead for senior civil servant authority
City council leaders have indicated they will not push ahead with proposals which would give unelected officers new powers.
Under the plans, due to be debated at Monday’s full council meeting, a senior civil servant would have the ability to approve projects of up to £1million.
Currently for any works worth more than £250,000, the council has to approve the budget and then a
“We’ve been clear about the potential pitfalls”
separate committee is also asked to back it.
Under the new proposed model, councillors would be informed of works of up to £1million in a “workplan” which would then be submitted to the new strategic commissioning committee for approval.
Business cases for each approved contract would then be submitted and these would require to be approved either by the head of commercial and procurement services, for spending below £1million, or by the committee if over £1million before the procurement can proceed.
A massive shake-up of the council is now under way with around £125mil- lion of cuts and savings due to be made over the next five years.
The ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent coalition blame this on decreasing Scottish Government block grants, while the opposition SNP group questions the priorities of the administration.
Aberdeenshire Council approved similar proposals this year. But many town house insiders have privately expressed fears of elected members being undermined with decisions handed to civil servants.
Last night council coleader Douglas Lumsden said: “We as an administration won’t be going down this route for approvals of up to £1million, we think the current level is reasonable. But we will be looking closely at the whole scheme of governance.” Opposition SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said: “While it is mildly comforting to learn they aren’t going to be accepting these proposals it does leave you wondering why they are continuing to back a model which has this principle at its core.
“Councillors are elected to make decisions as the accountable face of the local authority.
“We’ve been clear about the potential pitfalls of rushing into this model without knowing the consequences and if this is anything to go by, our concerns have been well placed,” added Mr Flynn.
HAPPY: Council co-leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden thinks the current £250,000 level of approval for projects is reasonable