West Lothian Council budget talks ‘a farce’

West Lothian Council Civic Centre
West Lothian Council Civic Centre

West Lothian Council’s SNP group leader has slated the current administration’s handling of the £30.4 million budget deficit.

Councillor Peter Johnston hit out at the apparent lack of detail within the newly launched public consultation.

As reported in last week’s Journal and Gazette, the council claims the consultation will assist in making reductions to its services in the following three years.

However, Councillor Johnston said: “Our Labour/Conservative administration tells us that they strongly believe in working with our local communities.

“Yet they have produced a consultation document totally lacking in the detail needed to enable our community to meaningfully engage in our budget process. To pretend to consult on a council budget without providing figures for either jobs to be lost or how savings are to be made is farcical.

“This is not a consultation – it’s a shamsultation!”

However, a West Lothian Council spokesman hit back.

He said: “The Government’s guidance on how to effectively engage with stakeholders states that information should be easy to comprehend – it should be in an easily understandable format and use plain language.

“We believe that our consultation meets those requirements.

“Council officers have drafted potential budget measures that are clear and understandable to the vast majority of our citizens.

“We want residents to be included in the budget process and we are looking for feedback on whether the draft measures are areas in which people would want us to take forward and explore, as we seek to make savings of £30.4 million over the next three years.

“We have a specific programme to consult with local, hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups.

“The response to date is very encouraging with over 200 responses being sent in the first day of the consultation. The number of responses has increased steadily since then.

“We would encourage citizens, businesses and community groups to take part.”

For the full list of proposals and to take part in the consultation, visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/yoursay14