The road ahead for South Ayrshire residents is looking much improved this week as South Ayrshire Councillors approved additional spending on roads of £1.5 million for 2011/12, bringing total roads spending for the year to more than £10.5 million – the Council’s biggest ever roads investment.
Elected members approved the additional funding for roads, which equates to around 15 per cent of the overall spend, in response to issues raised by members of the public during the Council’s Big Budget Challenge, which ran from November until January to get feedback from local residents on where the Council should make savings, spend less money and prioritise its spending.
Almost 1,000 responses were received, with roads topping the bill for many residents as the number one priority for Council spending.
Councillors took that feedback on board at this week’s special meeting of South Ayrshire Council as they agreed spending priorities for the 2011/12 revenue budget of £265.849 million – a reduction of £3.337 million on last year’s budget.
They also agreed to freeze Council Tax levels for the fourth year in a row, which will benefit every household in South Ayrshire. This keeps Band D Council Tax at the 2007/08 level of £1,153.95.
The revenue budget funds the running costs of the Council’s operations, including the costs of employing more than 5,000 staff, operating Council facilities and supporting the capital programme.
Other priorities approved by the elected members were an additional £1.079 million to improve the care provided to older people and disabled adults, which included £341,000 to deliver care packages for older people; £162,044 to provide residential care for physically disabled and learning disabled adults; and £118,400 for in-house homecare.
Care for young people received a boost with an additional £551,724 allocated to children’s services including £345,570 for care packages for children and young people with disabilities, helping them live as full a life as possible; and £79,113 for additional pupil support assistants and additional support needs nursery nurses.
To continue the Council’s work to improve sustainability and the local environment, £189,450 has been allocated to Zero Waste projects that promote recycling as well as the Joint Ayrshire Waste Project, which is being developed to create a sustainable alternative to landfill.
Councillors approved funding to help South Ayrshire become the best place for business, tourism and leisure with the first £200,000 towards the major redevelopment of South Carrick, which they approved in December, and £75,000 to support events development that will bring major tourist events to the area. They also committed £1.439 million to continue to support community planning.
The 2011/12 revenue budget includes a total of £9 million in efficiency savings – £5.5 million of which were approved during 2010/11. The remaining £3.5 million approved at today’s meeting includes savings of £1.5 million generated by a review of opening/operating hours, £250,000 through primary school rationalisation and £790,000 through the maximisation of income.
The Council also agreed to retain uncommitted general reserves of around £11 million.
Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council (pictured above) said: “I am very pleased we can deliver a budget that continues to invest in the services that matter to our residents and genuinely make a difference for them.
“While we have to balance cuts in funding against increased demand in services, we are listening to what the people of South Ayrshire are telling us and working better and smarter with a real focus on customer service, service delivery and best value.
“That’s why today we have approved the Council’s biggest ever investment in our roads infrastructure and provided additional funding to support the more vulnerable members of our society. However, we do need to be clear that times are tough and more challenges lie ahead.
“We have focused on efficiencies to generate the savings we require and have worked to get as much as possible out of every penny and every pound – that is exactly what our budget achieves.
“We are moving forward in an ever-tightening economic environment; however, thanks to strong leadership, collaborative working and responsible governance, South Ayrshire Council is now in a much stronger and healthier place and match fit for the challenges that lie ahead.
“This is a good budget in difficult times and we will continue to build on this to put our customers first and consolidate our position as the most improved Council in Scotland.”
Councillor Nan McFarlane, Leader of the SNP Group and Portfolio Holder for Social Services said: “Thanks to the collective efforts of the SNP and Conservative groups and our independent elected members, we have approved a budget today that will make a significant difference to many in our communities. Even in these difficult financial times with demand outstripping the resources available, this is a good budget that prioritises the services that matter most to our residents.
“As the Council’s ‘champion’ for older people and children and adults with disabilities, I am especially pleased there is significant investment in care provision that will give those who need it the chance to improve their quality of life and reach their full potential, particularly with a rising elderly population. As a champion for equalities, I am also pleased the budget has been impact-assessed for equalities and there are no significant concerns.
“We have surpassed ourselves in terms of reserves and we now need to consider – in a careful and planned way – how we manage these. Every penny we invest has to help improve the outcomes for our communities whether that’s in terms of equalities, health or economy. This budget helps achieve this as well as our aim of being the most improved Council in Scotland.”
Speaking on behalf of the Independent elected members, Councillor Douglas Campbell, who is also Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First, added: “Creating a balanced budget this year has been made even more difficult because we don’t know what will happen to our funding allocation over the next three years. This means that we have had to be wary this year about how we use every penny.
“Our priorities are very much focused on giving our children the best possible start for the future and support for older people.”
The Council’s capital programme for 2011/12 was also approved at this week’s special meeting, with spending of £12.873 million agreed – a reduction of £2.476 million on 2010/11.
Education is very much at the heart of the capital programme with a total of £9.3 million dedicated to improvements in schools, including:
* £2.86 million to renew the dining hall and construct a school extension at Heathfield Primary;
* £2.05 million to refurbish Forehill Primary;
* £1.4 million to refurbish Braehead Primary;
* £600,000 towards a new-build Kirkmichael Primary;
* £500,000 towards the refurbishment of Marr College;
* £441,667 towards a new-build Ayr Academy;
* £300,000 to fund ongoing improvement works at primary schools (based on two per annum); and
* £350,000 for curricular upgrades and ICT replacement within schools.
In addition, the capital programme includes:
* £1 million to create one stop shops in Ayr, Maybole, Prestwick and Troon, putting customer service right at the heart of communities;
* £400,000 to ensure Council facilities and amenities comply with the Disability Discrimination Act;
* £375,000 to improve the Council’s technology infrastructure;
* £200,000 for bridge strengthening at Skeldon Bridge;
* £100,000 to improve public toilets in Ballantrae, Dunure, Maidens and Maybole;
* £100,000 to replace and improve lighting in Kildoon Drive, Kincraig Avenue and Queens Terrace in Maybole;
* £50,000 to create pontoons and safety features around Girvan Harbour in conjunction with the Sailwest project; and
* £50,000 for initial works to extend burial ground in Ayr Cemetery.
Councillor Robin Reid, Portfolio Holder for Resource and Performance said: “For 2011/12, we are looking at a significant reduction in our capital programme of some 16 per cent and we have to ensure we put the funds we do have available to the best possible use.
“The programme we have approved is very much about delivering for the future and we are certainly doing that in more ways than one with a significant focus on investment in education – both the actual bricks and mortar as well as the infrastructure needed within schools to help deliver Curriculum for Excellence and ensure our pupils enjoy the best possible opportunities.
“We’re also taking steps to transform our customer service delivery with four new one stop shops that bring together many of our frontline services in one location, making it easier than ever for residents to access Council services.
“This is testament to our commitment to doing the best we can with the resources available and our capital programme will deliver much improved facilities and positive outcomes for communities from one end of South Ayrshire to the other.”
South Ayrshire Council is a founder member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
THE ELITE AYRSHIRE BUSINESS CIRCLE
The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle is an association founded in 2007 by some of the top companies in Ayrshire.
Its purpose is to publicise its members, and to celebrate and promote the wealth and rich diversity of entrepreneurial talent and business excellence that abounds here within the county boundaries of Ayrshire.
Members include the Clydesdale Bank, Ayr Racecourse, Western House Hotel and South Ayrshire Council, and member company activities include broadcasting, building and construction, architectural practice, estate agency and land management, chartered accountancy, insurance broking, legal services, golf club management, marketing services and brand creation, web design and public relations consultancy.
Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors senior partner Norman Geddes is executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle, and managing director is public relations consultancy Fame Publicity Services proprietor Murdoch MacDonald.
Founder members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle:
South Ayrshire Council http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk
Clydesdale Bank http://www.cbonline.co.uk
Turnberry Hotel and Golf Resort http://www.turnberry.co.uk
Ayr Racecourse http://www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk
Western House Hotel http://www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk/hotel.html
CKD Galbraith Property Consultants http://www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk
Frazer Coogans Solicitors http://www.frazercoogans.co.uk
Accident & Injury Claims Centre http://www.accidentclaims.com
MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers http://www.mackaycorporate-brokers.com
Donald Ross Estate Agents: http://www.donaldross.co.uk
Westgale Ltd Building Contractors http://www.westgale.co.uk
Sinclair Scott Chartered Accountants http://www.sinclairscott.com
Paligap Creative Agency http://www.paligap.com
ARP Lorimer & Associates Architects http://www.arpl.co.uk
JB Management – Training Providers http://www.jb-management.com
Brunston Castle Golf Club http://www.brunstoncastle.co.uk
Fouters Restaurant http://www.fouters.co.uk
Christie Financial Planning Ltd http://www.christiefp.com
Allison Lightbody Waddell Chartered Surveyors http://www.alwsurveyors.com
Kestrel Press http://www.kestrelpress.com
Fame Publicity Services Public Relations Consultancy http://www.famepublicity.co.uk
West Sound Radio http://www.westsound.co.uk
Easton Kitchens & Bathrooms
For further information about The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and to apply for membership, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org