A BUDGET consultation being carried out by East Dunbartonshire Council has been slammed by Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson.

The SNP politician has criticised the form which has been sent to 10,000 households throughout the area because he thinks it’s a waste of money.

Mr Paterson has written to the council’s chief executive to ask how much the council spent on the lengthy questionnaire which asks the public their views on how next year’s money should be spent – and where cuts should be made.

He said: “I am all for public consultation where it can make a difference, but this is simply a box-ticking exercise which will have no effect on the council budget decisions. I have used questionnaires to effect a change of policy, for example in Clydebank to eliminate a toxic smell coming from the Dalmuir Sewage Works.

“Budget meetings and decisions are already being taken and this consultation deadline wasn’t until November 21 so it missed the boat. Several of my constituents have complained that they don’t feel they have enough information to make these important financial judgments and they question the validity of their participation anyway.

“I plan to issue a consultation to residents of Bearsden and Milngavie on the rail halt at the Allander development early next year, at no cost to the taxpayer, which will be on a meaningful issue where the people can make their voices heard which will actually make a difference.

“It’s about time the Labour/Tory administration stopped to think about their unnecessary expenditure on measures that have been decided on.”

Council leader Rhondda Geekie defended the consultation. She said: “I’m very disappointed that Mr Paterson is criticising this consultation which was carried out with residents and that he thinks it’s a waste of money.

“The findings of the Christie commission and the SNP government strongly supports engaging with local communities.

“Valuable information from the stakeholder questionnaires will hopefully help all parties make decisions in December on budget cuts consensually.”

Gerry Cornes, East Dunbartonshire Council’s chief executive said: “The stakeholder engagement programme was agreed in June 2011, receiving council-wide support.

“In light of the financial challenges we face, it is essential that we engage with our communities in planning not only for the £6.5million of savings that need to be found for 2012-13 but also for identifying options to shape future public service delivery over the next few years by the new council. Therefore the programme is not solely in place to routinely address the budget for 2012-13 but goes beyond this remit.”