DENIS COYNE stressed the importance of unity within Clackmannanshire Council as they approved the budget for the year ahead.

The 18 councillors unanimously agreed upon the 2024/25 budget at a special meeting of the council held on Thursday, February 29.

This will see £161.5 million be set aside for general services and projects, but also saw several cuts being made to accommodate the £11.5 million budget gap.

Speaking to the Advertiser after the meeting, Tory Councillor Coyne hoped to stress the necessity of the council working together despite the differences in parties.

He said:  “It is really quite important for the public to understand that the council really is working on their behalf in the middle position between the administration and the public’s needs.

“We are working together, as a group of 18, not as a collection of separate parties, and I think that’s something that distinguishes Clackmannanshire from any other councils in Scotland.

“We’re privileged and proud to be a part of this process because every one of the 18 people round the table actually does care.”

The cuts included the removal of funding for several community halls across Clackmannanshire, including Tillicoultry, Coalsnaughton and Clackmannan.

There is hope that the buildings will be made available for community asset transfer, allowing community groups to take control of the halls.

Library and leisure facilities at the Sauchie Hall could also be on the way out, the following year, with Cllr Coyne explaining that the council had to make tough decisions.

He added: “I hope that the public understand that we don’t make the decisions we make lightly, there’s an awful lot of thought goes into it and a real proper exercise into considering the alternatives and prioritisations.

“It won’t suit everybody, it can’t suit everybody, when supply is shorter than demand. There are people here that are slightly disaffected and we’re aware of that, and obviously if we can generate more money for more services, then we will.

“We’re at the mercy of external funding.”

Changes in the services budget will begin to come into force later this year.