Opposition councillors have hit out at city leaders over looming cuts to vital services in next month’s budget.
Aberdeen City Council is facing a funding shortfall of £38 million ahead of its budget being announced on March 3 – with the administration laying the blame at the door of the Scottish Government.
Earlier this week, co-leaders Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing told the Evening Express the local authority’s budget had been slashed in real terms from £330.5m to £327.9m.
However, the opposition SNP group has claimed the Conservative, Labour and independent administration is to blame for the city’s precarious financial position because of the spiralling costs of a range of projects.
Group leader Alex Nicoll criticised the council for pressing ahead with cuts to services at the same time as initiatives such as the regeneration of Union Terrace Gardens went over budget.
And he accused the administration of having a “spend, spend, spend mentality”.
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He said: “There is no question that the budget process will be a difficult one and hard choices will have to be made, but the blame firmly lies at the feet of this Tory-led administration, who have failed to rein in their overspends.
“While the administration blames others, the reality is that they will be cutting services at the very same time as continuing to splash tens of millions on the likes of Union Terrace Gardens.
“Despite their rhetoric, the people of Aberdeen will not be taken for fools – they know that this administration’s spend, spend, spend mentality will have consequences.”
Last year, the SNP group claimed the cost of the Union Terrace Gardens project had risen from £25.2m to £27.8m before work began.
It was initially expected to cost £22m when designs were unveiled in 2016.
Other projects the group claims cost more than initially predicted were the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Third Don Crossing, TECA, Music Hall and the Treasure Hub.
However, Mr Lumsden replied: “Councillor Nicoll is right. There is no question that the budget process will be a difficult one with hard choices having to be made. However, he is wrong to suggest this is down to capital financing.
“The budget process is hard because the Scottish Government refuse to provide Aberdeen with a fair and equitable settlement.
“Councillor Nicoll’s time would be better spent lobbying his own government to ensure Aberdeen receives its fair share of Scottish cash.”
He added: “Aberdeen has been revitalised over the last eight years thanks to the administration spending money in our communities.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have ensured our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement that supports vital public services.”