PLANS by North Ayrshire Labour to use unearmarked reserves to support the Community Investment Fund as part of their management of the budget were rejected at a full meeting of the council last week.

Councillor Amanda Kerr put forward a motion which read: “The council acknowledges that using non-recurring such as reserves to balance the council’s revenue budget increases the budget gap in the following year.

"Council notes the approach adopted by the last administration of allocating one-off savings such as released reserves, re-financed loans and budget underspends to the council’s investment fund which has been used to support the development of the council-owned solar farms, community wealth building, and the one-off cost-of-living support package.

“Council believes the investment fund approach provides a strategic medium to long-term plan to make the council more financially sustainable, making possible transformational projects like council-owned renewable energy as well as emergency support to residents in times like the current cost-of-living crisis.

“Council therefore agrees that un-earmarked reserves should be set at two per cent in the forthcoming budget for 2023/24 with any additional surplus (currently around £3.25 million) and end-of-year underspend allocated to the investment fund to support initiatives such as the i3 renewable energy plan.”

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Conservative leader Tom Marshall put forward an amendment and said: “We agree with a lot of what Councillor Kerr says but take exception to the last paragraph where she talks about the year underspend being allocated to the investment fund.

“By agreeing to that you are going to tie the hands of the chief officers, particularly this year when there is liable to be a real difficulty in balancing the budget and at present we have quite a shortfall.

"If we agree to this, any surplus is going to go to the investment fund.”

The motion was defeated by 20 votes to nine. Another amendment by councillor Christina Larsen, which was the direct opposite of the Labour one, fell earlier.

Councillor Larsen said this was the second special meeting Labour had brought to the council on un-earmarked reserves since the new term started in May and was becoming a habit.