THE leader of South Ayrshire Council has told his critics that the authority needs to bring in money - or it will face severe financial consequences in the coming years.

Councillor Martin Dowey insisted that increasing income is the only way to protect council staff.

Cllr Dowey was speaking after the budget plans brought forward by the authority's Conservative/Independent administration were approved - on the casting vote of the council's Provost, Iain Campbell.

The budget includes a 5 per cent increase in council tax bills from the beginning of the new financial year next month.

One of the main hopes for bringing in money is September’s airshow - officially named the 'International Ayr Show - Festival of Flight'. 

Neither the SNP or Labour budgets included financial support for the event.

Cllr Dowey (Conservative, Ayr West) said that the show would have been cancelled had either the Labour or SNP group's budget plans been approved.

He said: “This is not about politics, it is about common sense. You cannot keep salami slicing services and expect a service. As a council we need to get income.

“We need to generate money. We can’t just live off council tax.

“If you look at South Ayrshire’s budget there is about £90 million that isn’t ring-fenced. We are making £10m in savings a year. In nine years’ time, there’s no council left.”

He added that he was confident the inaugural airshow would make a profit this year.

Cllr Dowey said that his ‘number one priority’ is protecting staff, pointing out that the focus had been on vacant and temporary posts.

He said: “My number one priority is to protect the staff, if that means some outside contractors don’t get business and we protect our own staff.

“Staff are forgotten about when we are all playing silly politics in county hall.

“There are a lot of folk who are worrying about livelihoods. But we can’t protect staff without generating revenue.”

He also hit back at opposition councillors who criticised the administration's budget plan to spend more than £5m on golf in South Ayrshire, pointing out that capital funds could not be used for the day-to-day running of services.

He also acknowledged that, despite their political differences, the SNP and Labour groups both put forward plans that they believed would benefit South Ayrshire.

However, he also pointed out that the ruling administration's plan to invest £1 million in each council ward - voted through at last week's budget meeting - was something the opposition groups had insisted could not be done.