Shock at depth of £127m cuts

I am shocked at the severity of the cuts being proposed by Aberdeen City Council as it faces the need to prune £127 million off its budget.

I keep puzzling how the city that has been the power house of the Scottish and UK economy for the past 40 years, is reduced talking seriously about padlocking the city’s parks, axing support for the most needy members of our society and postponing Aberdeen’s desperately-needed bypass?

  • Is this the same city at the heart of the oil and gas industry that propped up the UK economy through the seventies and eighties and puts more company tax (estimated at 28% of UK corporation tax) into the UK Exchequer than any other region, including the ‘Square Mile’ in London?
  • Is this the same city as headquarters an industry that provides a net benefit to the balance of trade of some £35 billion* in 2009 and provides 440,000 quality jobs across the UK?
  • Is this the same city that is number two in the world as a centre from upstream oil and gas?

How on earth could the city that hosts Britain’s largest industrial investor, be reduced to this?

Well part of the answer could be the inequitable way the city is treated.

Take business rates. Aberdeen City Council gathers £140 million in business rates. That money is sent to the Scottish Government who take off £80 million and send back £60 million. in this process Aberdeen City becomes the lowest per capita funding of any local authority in Scotland.

What is the justification for that? This is a pivotal time for Aberdeen as it seeks (very much in the interests of UK plc) to extend the life of the oil and gas industry in the North Sea and to develop the massive potential of marine renewables.

To achieve this, the city needs to develop its infrastructure and increase its competitiveness. It cannot do that if its infrastructure development is stopped dead and its services cut to the core!

It is time for our governments in Edinburgh and London to waken up to the national significance of what is at stake and to support Aberdeen.

When the gas goes off, the oil tanks run low and the 400,000 oil-related jobs start to disappear, it will be too late.

  • The balance of payments was supported to the tune of £27 billion and the supply chain’s exports of goods and services added more than £5 billion again. Importantly, this year, the industry is providing employment for 440,000 people across the whole country...” Oil and Gas UK, July 2010
  • For more oil and gas facts see the Energy Facts page.
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