Councillor Sally Pattle’s comment on the council budget

28 Feb 2024
Councillor Sally Pattle

Sally says:

“No-one is trying to pretend that the budget we agreed was what we wanted, it was a tough set of proposals to swallow, but it is our statutory duty as a council to balance our budget within our available resources.

Since being elected I have been impressed by West Lothian Council’s adherence to the ethos of preparing robust median and long-term financial planning.

I have been appalled at the scale of cuts that have been imposed by the Scottish Government for the past decade and their continual and increasing attempt at centralisation which has led to a stranglehold on services that local authorities are bound to deliver in a certain way.

The fact that we are beholden to the Scottish Government’s whims, rather than being able to choose local provision that would best serve our communities here in West Lothian is bad enough, but this has been compounded by the fact that yet again we are being forced to freeze council tax – a measure that has not been fully funded despite claims to the contrary.

The uncertainty officers faced trying to propose a budget when they have no idea what the final settlement is going to be in March means this has been a Sisyphean task.

The threats issued by the Scottish Government to local authorities over accepting their terms across Scotland have quite frankly been incredible. There’s been no dialogue, just a series of demands.

With regards to the revenue budget we agreed last week, I welcome the commitment to work in concert with staff at the Burgh Halls when developing a new business plan and I especially welcome the intention to revisit opening hours and look at improving the new booking system at community recycling centres across West Lothian.

I also welcome the openness of council officers in the lead up to the budget, they really helped us to understand the stark reality of the situation that we face.

Ultimately, having secured commitments on the future of the Linlithgow Burgh Halls and extending opening hours at community recycling centres, I was happy to support the Labour budget proposals. I now hope that all elected members and officers can come together to make this budget work for everyone in West Lothian.”