COUNCILLORS last week agreed to approve a £315million budget for North Ayrshire over the next year.

After a full day of meetings at Cunninghame House last Wednesday, February 17, the budget – which will see cuts of £13.6million on council services – was agreed by the majority of members.

As the Times first revealed, the SNP administration announced a number of investments within North Ayrshire including £25million for a new additional support needs school, £32million on improving Ardrossan Academy and £17million on council housing.

But a raft of cuts have also been imposed which will see around 40 full-time jobs go as well as 46 play parks, Dreghorn Recycling Centre, several public toilets, and the removal of community wardens.

Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Ruth Maguire, presented her general revenue, capital investment and housing revenue reports to the council last week.

She said: “In 2016/17 we will spend more than £315m meeting the needs of our communities.

“In addition our North Ayrshire Health and Social care partnership will access funding of almost £7.3million.

“We are also one of only seven local authorities in Scotland with access to the National Attainment Challenge fund, we expect to receive £12million over the next four years.

“I’m sure no one in this chamber is in any doubt that we are operating in challenging times however I would like to acknowledge and welcome additional funding that we are receiving.

“I welcome the additional £1.4million to support the Children and Young people’s bill and the extension of the early years services both of which will support some of the most vulnerable young people and families in our communities.

“Despite obvious challenges and political differences I know that everyone in this chamber remains steadfast in their commitment to use all resources available to us to improve the lives of those who live North Ayrshire and to reduce inequalities in our communities.”

Councillor Peter McNamara, leader of the North Ayrshire Labour Group, re-iterated his vehement stance against the budget settlement.

He said: “We will be supporting a balanced budget and I’d like to thank the officers for all the work they have done.

“This is an attack on local democracy, a deplorable attack and it’s avoidable. The Scottish government have powers to avoid these cuts.”

Independent Councillor John Hunter added: “Speaking on behalf of Councillor (Ronnie) McNicol and myself not to say we are happy but we acknowledge we have to work within the settlement.”

NAC Leader Willie Gibson hit back at his party’s critics, saying: “No one can possibly deny George Osborne is creating an austerity affecting everyone in this country.

“John Swinney has to create a budget for the whole of Scotland, we are receiving some pretty

massive cuts from George Osborne.”

The motion put forward by Councillor McNamara was shot down by an 18 to 11 vote.