In case anyone has forgotten, there are Holyrood elections looming.
They aren’t until next year but, let’s face it, as soon as the scribbling hand of Fifers recovers from the umpteen Xs they’ve had to stick on forms over the last few years, politicians will be vying for their attention again when it comes to picking who they want to occupy Scottish Parliament seats.
Which is why there was a distinct air of caution in the air as Fife councillors set their budget for the coming 12 months – with profound implications for future years.
Having covered budgets since Steps were popular, it’s something of a tragedy that political points are still being scored at a time like this. But did anyone expect any less?
The reality of the situation was that the SNP councillors blamed Westminster for the impact of austerity, Labour councillors in the joint administration also blamed them but had a dig at the SNP at Holyrood for the way local government is financed, and the Tories and Lib Dems, in truth, came up with proposals without any expectation of them being taken on board.
It’s just the way of the world in Fife at the moment but the one thing I think everyone could agree on – and I highlighted this in my analysis on Fridays paper – is that it would have been better if all the facts had been known before the budget was set on Thursday.
We are now told that Fife might get an extra £6.3 million following the recent deal between the SNP and Greens at Holyrood, and it remains to be seen where that cash is diverted.
Would it have alleviated the cuts to education? Would it have gone towards health and social care? Or would it have minimised the council tax increase?
The worst thing is that we’ll never know and the blame for the delay in budgetary decisions will again fall along party political lines.
To me, it seems that calls for local government to take more control over their finances are growing and, in my opinion, make sense.
Ring-fenced funding for projects has to be welcomed and it’s great on the face of it, but one wonders if there couldn’t be more flexibility built into some of the figures passed on by the Scottish Government.