People have had their say on budget - now it’s decision time

Fife House, headquarters of Fife Regional Council in Glenrothes.
Fife House, headquarters of Fife Regional Council in Glenrothes.

HUNDREDS of Fifers have put forward their views during the consultation on the Council’s budget proposals.

While some dismissed the process as little more than a political stunt which would make no difference, others welcomed the opportunity to have their say on how the Council should spend its budget of around £800m – and where the cuts should fall.

Protecting education and social work services, and frontline staff – with concerns job cuts could cause services to suffer – came across as priorities.

Reservations were also expressed about cuts to bus services and reductions in the workforce looking after parks and open spaces.

Investing in creating apprenticeships proved popular, but other proposals such as removing care home charges and introducing a living wage got a mixed response, while there was considerable opposition to plans for a £1m investment in Dunfermline town centre.

Several respondents suggested reducing the number of councillors and highly-paid managers to save money.

Council leader Alex Rowley said: “I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to respond. This is the first time Fife Council has published information ahead of budget day and this new approach seems to have been well-received.

“The new online dialogue app we tried out has been well-used and the more traditional method of filling in a paper form has proved popular too.

“Although the area meetings didn’t have a universally high turn-out, the quality of comments and interest in the process from those who were there was encouraging.”

Analysis of all the comments and ideas is now being done and councilllors will then have to decide what they want to review in the draft budget proposals based on the feedback. They will make a final decision on the budget on February 14.

Cllr Rowley added: “This is just the start of a more open dialogue we want to have with communities in Fife about how and where money is spent.

“The next four years are going to be very hard and some difficult choices are ahead of us so we want to make sure communities understand what the issues are and what needs to be done.”