Fife Council leader challenges SNP to publish alternative budget

Fife SNP group leader Brian Goodall has been challenged to publish his party's 'alternative budget'.
Fife SNP group leader Brian Goodall has been challenged to publish his party's 'alternative budget'.

Fife Council leader David Ross has challenged SNP group leader Brian Goodall to publish his party’s alternative budget.

In a letter to the opposition leader, Cllr Ross expressed his disappointment that the SNP group hadn’t taken up repeated invitations to discuss the budget for 2016-17, while the Lib Dems, Conservatives and a number of independent councillors had engaged in “helpful conversations”.

He suggested that as the SNP’s finance spokesman David Alexander had been “publicly minimising the scale of the financial challenge facing the council”, the SNP group must have prepared an alternative budget – and challenged Cllr Goodall to publish it to allow some level of advanced scrutiny prior to the council meeting on February 25.

Cllr Ross said: “Since Labour came into administration in 2012 we have produced a draft budget well in advance of setting the council’s budget in February, allowing public scrutiny and debate on our proposals.

“However, the SNP have regularly produced their alternative budget proposals on the day of the budget meeting, giving no time for them to be properly examined or scrutinised by other councillors let alone the public.

“Since the SNP finance spokesperson David Alexander is on record as saying there was no need to postpone the council’s budget meeting to take account of changes to John Swinney’s grant offer to councils, clearly the SNP must have prepared their alternative budget already.

“He has also accused me of overstating the financial challenge the council faces, in contradiction to the advice we have all received from the council’s executive director of finance and corporate services. He must think he has some magic alternative up this sleeve.

“I have therefore written to Brian Goodall inviting him to publish the SNP’s alternative budget on the original meeting date of February 11 so it can be subject to some level of advance scrutiny prior to the budget meeting that is now scheduled for February 25, as has already been the case with the Labour administration’s draft budget.

“I have also expressed my disappointment that the SNP have made no attempt to discuss the council’s challenging budget situation with me despite repeated invitations to meet.

“I had hoped we could reach some measure of cross party agreement on the budget, given the difficult financial position the council faces.

“I have already had helpful conversations with the Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups and with a number of independent councillors, and would still welcome a discussion with the SNP. My door remains open.”