Monday, 12 April 2010

Fife Council is having difficulty with Area Budgets

Fife Council allocates "devolved" budgets to Area Committees, such as the North East Fife area Committee, and also to Locality Budgets covering council wards, such as East Neuk and Landward, etc.

Area Budget decisions are openly decided in public Committee Meetings. Locality Meetings are meetings between elected ward councillors and the Locality Manger, to whom the budget, with limits, is delegated. Spending decisions are made in consultation with the councillors: if there is any disagreement, the Locality Manger may authorise the spend in line with the prevailing view of the local members, or even refer the spending decision to the Area Committee.

I think the system works well - the Locality Meeting focuses on local need and the limits stem any excesses.

But what happens when the Area Budget is unable to meet demands on it? There is currently a case, a worthy enough cause, where an approach has been made to Localities to make a contribution to a shared need - a matter that ought really to be met by the Area Budget after public discussion in the Area Committee.

The Administration has to face up to the realities of its financial position - clawing back from Locality Budgets is not on - unless done openly at a meeting of the Area Committee.

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