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Saturday 4th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

A LABOUR-CONTROLLED Scottish council was commended yesterday for becoming the first council to defy Scottish government austerity by setting a “bold, radical” no-cuts budget.

North Ayrshire councillors voted on Wednesday to approve a budget which will use reserves, its projected underspend and changes to council tax to invest an additional £12.3 million in the local community and stop Scottish government cuts.

The previous SNP administration had increased the council’s reserves while cutting jobs and services.

The investment includes £5.5m extra for social care, £1.8m spent on anti-poverty measures, and the devolution of over £5m to Ayrshire’s six localities, thereby empowering communities to have a voice on matters that affect them.

Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “I have proposed the most radical, anti-austerity budget seen in North Ayrshire for many years and I am absolutely delighted that it has passed. It stops the cuts and invests in our future.”

Mr Cullinane said the budget was “radical, bold and unequivocally anti-austerity,” adding: “It is the difference having a Labour councillor makes for the people of North Ayrshire.”

Unite regional officer Andy Macfarlane praised the Labour administration for “protect[ing] our members and the services they deliver from the worst effect of the cuts, as well as investing in the future.”

The union particularly welcomed North Ayrshire Council’s construction charter which will “help to make sure that these projects promote local employment, fair wages, union recognition and worker protection.”

Earlier this year the SNP, with the help of the Greens, passed a budget which will slash £170m from local government funds. They have cut a staggering £1.5 billion since 2011.