Angus Council has knocked back proposals to hold a public consultation on next year’s budget.
Councillors were asked to weigh up three options for whether to consult residents on the next budget, due to be announced in February.
After a vote, councillors chose the option that took public consultation off the table until later next year, removing any public say in the upcoming process.
It means an “information-sharing only” approach will be taken in the immediate future.
The other options before councillors would have involved greater two-way communication with the public ahead of next year’s budget, one being a full consultation.
The post-Christmas lockdown and coronavirus were used as the justification to freeze-out residents.
Scottish Conservative Kirriemuir and Dean councillor Angus Macmillan Douglas, whose motion to against immediate public dialogue passed, said: “This administration has always favoured consultation.
“We’re too late to get into specific budget choices for the February 2021 budget.
“Consulting when we can not take account the results of the consultation risks bringing the whole process into disrepute.”
SNP councillor Lynne Devine said she was a ” bit surprised” by the motion.
The Forfar and District member said: “We’ve really not done a great deal of consultation at all on the budget under this administration.
“We were promised much more consultation this year.
“I feel we really need to give people the opportunity. I think there is an appetite out for people to get involved.
“I accept this could be a little more work for staff, but I think that they’re well and truly capable.”
Fellow SNP councillor Julie Bell said: “I think not consulting sends out a very worrying message indeed.”
The prospect of pushing back the consultation was described as a “slap in the face” by Indpendent councillor David Cheape.
He said: “We should be using every opportunity we have to consult with the public, particularly on budgets.
“Budgets affect the entire Angus public. We should give them the option to comment.”
In response to the “fairly harsh words”, Mr Douglas said: “We’re all in favour of this consultation. There is six month difference between us.”
It is hoped there will be a full public consultation put in place ahead of the 2022/23 budget.