Aberdeen City Council's
announcement of £27 million of cuts in its budget has caused shock tremors throughout the city and further afield.
The initial headlines concentrated on the loss of the Bon Accord Baths and the Lynx Ice Rink. However, as time has gone on, there has been growing shock at how deeply the cuts may impact on Aberdeen's
most vulnerable citizens.
Were the councillors fully aware of what they were voting for?
- Did they know they were voting for the probable closure of the Glencraft workshops for the blind and disabled?
- Did they know they were voting for the removal of the children of Aberdeen families from sector-leading facilities for children and adults with special needs like Camphill and Linn Moor?
- Did they know they were voting for the closure of Choices day centre?
If they weren't aware of that, then they ought to be.
Remember it is elected councillors who set the policy for councils like Aberdeen City Council
, not faceless strategists. The officials are there to implement the policy of the council... not the other way round.
That seems to have been forgotten by some of the councillors who say that they had to implement this strategy. They did not. They could easily have said that the damage inflicted on services for vulnerable members of Aberdeen's community was too great and that their officials would have to think again.
I do have some sympathy with the council's predicament. Aberdeen
has been asked to shoulder some of the costs of the oil and gas industry which has propped up the UK economy for four decades. I am certainly not convinced that central government has recognised that in its financial support for the local council.
However, Aberdeen City Council has set its aim to be the leading council in Northern Europe.
Aberdeen's councillors should remember that, as Gordon Brown said, "you judge a society by how it treats the most vulnerable".
If that is true, and I believe it is, then Aberdeen has taken a huge step backwards in its stated ambition to be the leading council in Northern Europe. Let's hope it is not too late to find a resolution.