The DEMOCRAT

Democratic process ignored as SNP council produce plans for budget cuts

Burgh Hall new artist's impression

The new council offices in Church Street, Dumbarton.

December 15, 2017

SNP-led West Dunbartonshire Council has been accused of using “smoke and mirrors” to hide the true scale of the cuts to services and job in their budget from the electorate in West Dunbartonshire, according to a Labour media release.

Labour has published previously unseen documents which reveal the hidden cuts to local schools, services and the jobs of low-paid council staff.

The Council published its Savings Options proposals to close next year’s budget gap last Friday, but the SNP-led administration decided to keep the number of job losses under wraps. An internal council document shared with the Leader of the Opposition before the options were made public shows that over 180 jobs are under threat.

In addition to the cuts announced on Friday, the Council has already taken secret steps, without a single vote being cast at full council, to slash a raft of services and jobs under so-called ‘management adjustments’.

This is a separate list with £1.2 million cuts over three years which, according to Labour,  will cut cleaning of public buildings down to once per week and ask some school pupils to clean their own areas in classrooms. It will also:

  • End free school milk at lunchtime.
  • Stop funding the out-of-hours noise complaints service which helps residents experiencing anti-social behaviour.

These decisions have been taken without any democratic oversight or consultation with the local community.

Council chiefs have used questionable methods to reduce the budget gap by £2 million by slashing funding over the next three years in a number of areas:

  • Staffing adjustments will result in savings of £381,765 which means more job losses by the back door.
  • Funding for initiatives to tackle the attainment gap in schools will be cut by £420,000.
  • A £380,000 raid on the roads budget will mean less money to fix potholes

The SNP has also put vital services like care for the elderly and health services at risk by assuming a £4.68 million cut to the budget for Health and Social Care Partnership over the next three years.

Labour politicians have pledged to fight for a better deal for West Dunbartonshire Council from the Scottish Government’s budget to stop all the cuts to local services.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour MSP for Dumbarton, said:  “The SNP has been caught red-handed trying to hide the scale of the cuts and job losses from communities in Dumbarton, Clydebank and the Vale of Leven.

“These budget cuts would increase the gap between the richest and the rest in our local schools and make West Dunbartonshire a less attractive place to live with overgrown grass, fewer street cleaners and more fly-tipping.

“To make matters worse, now we know that the SNP-led council has already decided to make even more cuts behind the scenes without facing a vote in the council chamber never mind telling members of the public. No amount of SNP spin or smoke and mirrors can hide the scale of the cuts and job losses on the cards.

“Over the past three years, the cuts from the Tories to the Scottish Government’s budget amount to 1.5 per cent. Over the same three years, the SNP’s cuts to local council funding amount to 4.6 per cent. The SNP has taken Tory austerity and more than doubled it in passing it on to local councils. Labour will fight the SNP’s turbo-charged austerity and demand fair funding for local services from the Scottish Government.”

David McBride, Scottish Labour councillor for Dumbarton ward, said:  “Instead of joining Labour in demanding a fair deal for West Dunbartonshire from the Scottish Government, SNP councillors have decided to get a head start on cutting jobs and services before the budget consultation has even begun.

“Decisions on cutting services like free school milk at lunchtime, cleaning public buildings and out-of-hours noise complaints should be taken by the Council as a whole, not in backroom deals between officers and the SNP Council Leader. There is no transparency or accountability.

“The 180 job losses planned by the SNP will hit council staff like cleaners and school catering staff at the same time as making it harder for trade unions to defend their interests. This is an attack on some of the lowest paid council workers. Labour councillors will fight alongside our local communities to protect jobs and services in West Dunbartonhshire.”

ENDS

 

Notes to readers who seek the details:

Job losses contained in Management Adjustments 

Remove post in legal services 1
Integrate HSCP with Council payroll 0.5
Remove educational psychologist 1
Cut cleaning of schools public buildings 35
   

Job losses contained in Budget Options 

Pre-packaged school meals instead of freshly prepared ingredients 30
School crossing patrols delivered by volunteers 40
Closure of Dalmuir golf course 4
Review grass-cutting 12
Remove summer bedding displays 5
Reduction in street cleaning 10
Reduction in cemetery maintenance 4
Reduction in park maintenance 5
Increase areas of uncut grass 6
End Care of Garden Scheme 20
Closure of recycling centre in Old Kilpatrick 4
Centralisation of registration services 1
Reduce number of paid trade union convener posts 2.4

 Total job losses: 180.9

Other cuts with staffing implications but number of job losses not specified:

Provide a sandwich lunch on Fridays instead of hot meals in school (Catering staff would be reduced to a 4 day week)
Removal of weekend litter squad (This would affect overtime payments of 40 staff.)
Review of waste services – alter bin collection frequencies
Closure of community centres and other facilities
Transfer cash payments from One Stop Shops

 

 

 

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