Leaders: ‘The council must justify its priorities’

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THERE are many competing demands on the public purse. Deciding on the merits of one project over another can be a thankless task, incredibly difficult and quite often controversial either way.

Today we report on a £50,000 contribution by the city council to a celebration of the Forth bridges – part of overall £117,000 taxpayer funding.

Yesterday, we told how late summer opening was being trialled at two city council owned attractions at a cost of £20,000.

Both are certainly worthy of public funds, and city chiefs may well be able to demonstrate the benefits of a relatively small amount of funding in each 
case.

Indeed, the spectacular fireworks event planned to mark the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge may well attract worldwide attention.

But while no-one would dispute such funding at a time of prosperity, at a time of austerity and while cuts are being made to other services across the city, throwing tens of thousands of pounds at what may be deemed “non-essentials” will inevitably raise questions of priorities.

The Evening News has highlighted the case of The Engine Shed, the 25-year-old respected social enterprise, which faces losing its £211,000 annual council subsidy.

Suggesting that the £70,000 spent on these two projects could instead be spent helping to save the shed is perhaps an overly simplistic view of the spider’s web of local authority finance.

To most, however, it’s simply all taxpayers’ money coming from the same place and that is the real problem for the city council.

It is up to the council to justify its spending priorities and make the case for cutbacks.

If it does not, the sight of £50,000 going up in smoke over the road bridge next year 
may seem like no cause for 
celebration.