Coun­cil pro­posal for new bud­get pow­ers shelved

Fi­nance: Lead­ers won’t push ahead for se­nior civil ser­vant author­ity

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY JON HEBDITCH

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

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