Chief warns ‘sa­cred cows’ will be slaugh­tered to save money

Evening Times - - NEWS - BY STE­WART PATER­SON

‘SA­CRED cows’ will need to be slaugh­tered to al­low the coun­cil to man­age its fi­nances and de­liver on pri­or­i­ties, the leader of Glas­gow City Coun­cil has warned.

Su­san Aitken said coun­cil chiefs will have big de­ci­sions to make as they strug­gle with re­duced bud­gets and de­mand for im­proved ser­vices.

Speak­ing at a fringe event at the SNP con­fer­ence in Aberdeen, Ms Aitken, who has been in power for just over a year at the City Cham­bers, said peo­ple in the city are propos­ing some rad­i­cal so­lu­tions to the tight­en­ing fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

She said the coun­cil has al­ready taken ac­tion in one area, to pro­tect leisure fa­cil­i­ties and im­prove af­ford­able ac­cess to swim­ming.

The con­tro­ver­sial move to re­move free swim­ming from over 60s and chil­dren has at­tracted crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors.

Ms Aitken also took a swipe at her op­po­nents in Labour who she said failed to act de­spite decades in of­fice.

How­ever, she said these de­ci­sions are nec­es­sary and oth­ers will have to fol­low.

Ms Aitken said: “We will need to slaugh­ter some sa­cred cows as we re­form ser­vices to de­liver out­comes.

“That is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult. We are find­ing it dif­fi­cult.

“We are try­ing to go above and be­low the noise and go di­rectly to com­mu­ni­ties. We have done that and we are go­ing to keep that up.

“Glaswe­gians are say­ing do peo­ple who don’t live in Glas­gow need to have free ac­cess to mu­se­ums. That’s one sa­cred cow.

“They are talk­ing about con­ges­tion charg­ing. That’s what’s com­ing up.”

She said the coun­cil is al­ready mak­ing some de­ci­sions on free pro­vi­sion but to im­prove ser­vices.

She said: “It sounds great but it hasn’t re­ally worked. We have made changes to that.”

She said be­fore the changes were made, the coun­cil con­sulted with around 5,000 peo­ple who were asked about free pro­vi­sion for fa­cil­i­ties.

Ms Aitken added: “We are tar­get­ing the peo­ple that need it most. We have been able to keep pools open and gyms open. Other lo­cal author­i­ties have closed swim­ming pools, we haven’t.”

She said the com­ing year would be chal­leng­ing for the coun­cil as it man­ages its fi­nances and she said there would be op­po­si­tion.

How­ever, she added: “It will be the very peo­ple who failed to make the nec­es­sary changes while the fi­nan­cial sun was shin­ing who will shout the loud­est.”

Su­san Aitken said coun­cil chiefs will have big de­ci­sions to make

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