Tories hit out at ‘timid and dull’ Fife budget

Dave Dempsey, leader of Fife Council Conservatives
Dave Dempsey, leader of Fife Council Conservatives

Tory councillors have described Fife Council’s budget as ‘‘timid and dull.’’

They said the local authority had rejected their ‘‘bolder vision’’ of the road ahead for the Kingdom.

Councillors met yesterday to set the budget for the next 12 months, with the SNP/Labour joint administration’s proposals given the green light.

They included a rise in Council Tax, and plans to shed up to 190 full-time equivalent jobs from the payroll to meet a £12.8m budget cut.

Councillor David Dempsey, Conservative group leader, said his party backed many of the officers’ proposals which the council rejected.

He said: “Once Labour and the SNP agreed a budget, it was always going to pass and it was always going to be timid and dull. Our amendment offered a bolder vision of where Fife needs to go. Fife Council officers know what can be done to transform the council. All we need are politicians prepared to back them.’’

He described as ‘‘nonsensical’’ the decision to charge at park and ride centres in Halbeath and Inverkeithing – a modest charge as more and more Fifers use the free facilities to avoid paying hefty airport parking charges – adding: ‘‘Encouraging the public to do something and then penalising them for doing it is plain daft. Unfortunately, the pair of parties that currently run Fife see the bulk of the public as a source of taxes and not much else.’’

The Conservatives’ support for the privatisation of care homes in Fife was a particular red line for the administration – along with a proposal to re-introduce care charges.

Cllr David J Ross, the Tories’ spokesman on health and social care, said “As anticipated, we came in for particular criticism for adopting the officers’ proposal to externalise the care home provision, thus saving £1m per year.

‘‘Labour and SNP arguments for keeping council care homes have never made sense. It buys most of its care home places from the private and third sectors and pays the nationally negotiated rate. It retains a small provision of its own at a vastly higher cost per place.’’